Stone pulling ceremony held to commemorate 142 years of Anglo-Naga peace treaty

Kohima: Thousands of men from the Angami, Chakhesang, and Rengma tribes on Tuesday took part in a stone pulling ceremony held at Mezoma to commemorate 142 years of Anglo-Naga peace treaty. 

The stone pulling ceremony is a practise of the Angami Naga tribe where a huge stone is pulled to a certain location to be erected as monoliths to commemorate jubilant occasions.

Organized by the Mezomia Mechü Kehou, men from Mezoma and Tuophema villages under Kohima district, Tesophenyu and Tseminyu villages under Tseminyu district, and Kikrüma under Phek district, took part in the ceremony to strengthen brotherhood ties among these villages. 

Convenor of the organizing committee Neivikuolie Khatsü informed that on March 27, 1880, the British and Nagas entered into an agreement for peace and cessation of hostilities at Mezoma village.

While the British could claim to have subjugated the Nagas through their superior firearms, he said that the Nagas hold that a peace treaty concluded with the British had brought an end to their hostilities. 

As per oral testimonies, he said that a solemn ceremony at Mezoma village was held in which two men from Mezoma and Khonoma held the head of a cat while a British representative held the lower end, following which a cat was sliced from the neck as an oath of peace that bounds the parties in the severest terms and ended the existing state of war between the British and the Angami Nagas. 

While the British were neither the first nor the last adversaries of the Nagas, he said that the Anglo-Naga peace treaty was never breached by the Angami Nagas till the British departure in 1947.

Need to maintain peace among Naga tribes

Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio, who graced the stone pulling as the chief guest, said that like the Nagas reached a peace treaty with the British in the past, any misunderstandings within the Naga tribes must also be resolved.

He said that Nagas should learn to unite and overcome the division between the tribes. As the Anglo-Naga peace treaty completes 142 years, he said that Nagas must also work together and be united. 

Rio also urged the need to preserve the culture and tradition of the Nagas. The ancestral stone pulling practice, he said, should be passed on to future generations to maintain the legacy. 

He cited that the Hornbill festival was introduced to preserve, protect and enhance the traditional and cultural practices of the Nagas.

The Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act, which is a legacy of the British regime, has been protecting the Nagas through the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system, he observed.  

He added that Nagas should continue to work to preserve the rich and distinct culture which has attracted tourists from across the globe. 

The one-day event was held as part of the Hornbill Festival. 

Also read | Neither dead nor alive: Life of one that ‘survived’ the Oting massacre

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