Use of firearms symbolises happiness, strength and unity of community celebrating the event; also used to communicate with neighbouring villages about happenings
Kohima: Open firing of muzzle-loading guns by Nagas has intrigued many visitors who witnessed this unique culture from the state for the first time, particularly at the ongoing Hornbill Festival. For the Nagas, the age-old tradition of firing these guns is common during festivities and celebrations even till this day.
The firing of muzzle-loading guns at festivities symbolises happiness, strength and unity of the community celebrating the event and also as a means to communicate with the neighbouring villages about the festive happenings in the community.
In some Naga villages, especially among the Angamis, guns are fired at the time of the death of a person (especially a wealthy person) as a means of informing fellow villagers about a deceased. This practice is still prevalent in some Angami Naga villages.
Speaking with EastMojo, Zakie Khate, an in-charge at the Angami Morung, said, “Culturally, traditionally, most of the times, it’s the men who take the guns because women are given the highest standard and honour in the Angami Naga society — they are protected and should be protected. So, in our tradition, we will hardly find where women taking guns, daos (machete), spears. That is the job of the men.”
“A man who is unable to protect the women is not a man. Even today, that truth still holds in society. Women should be protected, so there is no need for women to take guns to protect herself, it is the job of the men to protect their women,” he added.
“For Sümis, it’s not even guns but spears and daos too. If needed, it depends on the situation. Otherwise, since our ancestral times, Sümi women don’t use guns,” a Sümi Naga elder told EastMojo.
Meanwhile, a Dobashi from the Phom tribe said, “Initially, there were only spears and daos which served as a powerful weapon. Later on, muzzle-loading guns replaced the spears and daos for the warriors because it became more powerful and is also used during big occasions. At war times, the muzzle-loaded guns were used by warriors as the main weapon.”
“There is nothing particular about women not firing muzzle-loaded guns but women don’t try till today, but there are no restrictions,” he added.
As reported earlier, an all-women Konyak cultural troupe firing shots of muzzle-loading guns while performing a folk dance on the fourth day of the Hornbill Festival has won many hearts. The troupe performed The Fearless Eastern Tigress clad in Konyak traditional attire with each participant opening fire.