New Delhi: According to UN data released a few years ago, India is all set to become the world’s youngest nation by 2022. However, those who attended the 56th Nagas’ Meet held earlier this week in New Delhi would have surely returned with the impression that we might already achieved that distinction.
Except for a handful of invited dignitaries, Talkatora Stadium crackled with the energy of hundreds of 20-somethings throughout the day on Tuesday as youths belonging to the Naga community moved around in traditional attire of various Naga tribes.
The Naga Students’ Union Delhi (NSUD) has successfully organised the event for over five decades now. Founded in 1963, the body has around 30,000 members comprising present and former students in Delhi-NCR.
“This is the biggest cultural festival of the Naga community in Delhi. What makes the event even more special is the fact that despite our otherwise very busy lives in the city, we assemble here from all walks of life to celebrate our cultural identity and brotherhood,” a very occupied KS Masotmi, an organising committee member, informed EastMojo.
And in any gathering of the Northeast and Nagas, can artistic talent ever be in short supply? Although the event was delayed by up to three hours, it was all forgiven once performances by some of the region’s established as well as upcoming singers, musicians and rock bands got underway. Gigs by rock bands Lords of Rock and Nightmare and hugely talented singers like Talisang Jamir and Angeu Disuang left the audience gasping for more. Highly energised dance performances by the duo of Chanchui and Sara and Wondenbeng Ovung literally had members of the audience up on their feet.
In fact, Ovung’s dancing to popular Bollywood numbers in a traditional Lotha attire almost brought the house down.
Communal identity and India’s diversity
The meet’s theme this year was ‘Strengthening Identity & Unity’ amidst all the diversity manifested in various Naga tribal groups spread across Northeastern India. “There is no Northern Naga or Central Naga or Southern Naga and we need to come together to pray and help one another,” declared NSUD president Hinoto P Aomi in his welcome address.
Moreover, in the backdrop of the recent hope and positive sentiment generated by the prospect of a resolution to the Naga issue being close on the horizon, speakers were equally emphatic on the community’s responsibility towards the country.
Chief guest minister of PHED, printing & stationery, Losii Dikho rhetorically asked the gathering, “Are we contributing to the society as Nagas in our individual capacity? Are we acknowledged by other people or communities? Are we willing to show them our culture of honesty, integrity and the willingness to help others?”
“To take our nation forward or backward is in our hands today, and not tomorrow! There is a need to change, to evolve with the times. Let’s work in unison to take the Naga society to a level where people in rest of the country look up to us,” asserted legislature from Ukhrul in Manipur, Leishiyo Keishing.
In fact, this time the organisers were also able to successfully leverage the event to expand their outreach. “We sent out invitations not just too fellow Nagas but also members of other communities from the Northeast and our friends from the Delhi NCR. As Nagas we are proud of our rich traditions and culture and would like to showcase them. That requires non-Nagas to come and witness the festival for that’s how you develop a strong sense of bonding,” another member of NSUD’s organising community and law student, Mhasilenuo Keditsu, remarked.
Her colleague and student Matekho Pekosii quickly added, “This is how the people in Delhi are getting to understand our culture and way of life. And that is how we are bonding and growing in strength as Nagas and Indians to help in building our nation.”
There are currently 19 tribal units under the NSUD umbrella. Members of Angami, Anal, Lamkang, Inpui, Chakhesang, Rengma, Poumai, Maram, Chiru, Zeliangrong, Sumi, Mao and Thangal groups gave special performances at the event. The evening culminated in the crowing of Ms and Mr Fresher for 2019, who were selected by a distinguished jury comprising of notable members of the Naga community.