A letter to the PMM (Poumai Masou Me) – Poumai Naga Union

It was in the last week of July, 2007 while I was at Senapati for an assignment in the Naga Army Finance Department (NAFD) the then Lt. Col. Wungyip, General Accounts Officer, NAFD called up me to come to GHQ as the Longviby, Lt. Gen. H. S. Ramsan wanted to talk to me for an urgent matter. So, I reached GHQ on 26th July but met Longviby on 28th as on 26th to 27th July, 2007as there was a People’s Consultative Meeting going on at Hebron Camp called by NSCN (IM). I met him in the evening at his room, he asked me how the situation in Senapati was.
I replied that there was no any such major problem or news though there were some problems in the collection of taxes. Then, without any further word he looked at me and said, you must eliminate Mr. D. D. Thaisii (who is represented from the 47th Karong Assembly Constituency in the Manipur Legislative Assembly and presently Minister in the Tribal Development, Veterinary and Animal Husbandry Departments, Govt. of Manipur). He told me to finish him by blowing bomb using T.N.T explosives and also advised me to carry out the mission in between Senapati and Kangpokpi so that others might suspect it to be done by Kuki underground groups. Further, he warned me not to leak out this to anybody and even warned me not to tell to any of the kilonsers and leaders of Shepoumaramth region. He said this mission should be known only by him and me.
He even didn’t tell me why D. D. Thaisii should eliminated or say it’s the decision of the government/NSCN or anything like that. Hearing this I was surprise, angry and sad but in front of the Army Chief I had no option, I said, ‘Yes Sir’. Next he told me to stay at Demolition Camp for some days in order to learn to handle bomb skilfully and take along with me an expert person in bomb from among the Demolition Group whom I can trust. I said, ‘Yes Sir’ and asked his permission to go to Dimapur once since that day was Saturday and the next would be Sunday, and so I was allowed to come on Monday.
So, that day I came back to Dimapur and lodged at Hotel Yak. The next day i, e on Sunday I fasted and prayed in the hotel room for this particular problem.
I especially prayed to Almighty God to guide my life and strengthen my heart so that I would be brave and righteous always, going the way and doing the thing that is acceptable in the sight of the Almighty God because I firmly believe, ‘ Nagaland is God’s purpose’ and for this very reason we are in the National service. In the duty of the Nation wherever we go and whatever we do should be for God and for the Nation. I prayed Almighty God so earnestly to inspire me and help me to come to a right decision. At last it came to my decision that this kind of assassination plot is never a right thing, it’s sin against God, against the Nation and purely a suppression of my tribe Poumai. I took a firm decision that I will never carry out the mission to assassinate Mr. D. D. Thaisii inspite of whatever risk may come upon me, because I am a man of my own decision in the National Service, to go and do what I think is right for the Nation in the fear of the Lord, and not that I am being in the NSCN (IM) to be utilized by others like a tool or like a hired soldier.
Yet, then as I have to take time to safely escape from this trap I went to the GHQ Demolition Camp on 30th July, 2007 as directed by Longvibu. I stayed at Demolition camp for about a week yet I didn’t touch or look at the bomb’s materials because I was angry and hated it very much. I said to the man in charge (capt. Daniel) just handover everything whatever is required to the man whom you will give to accompany me for the mission. So, Pte. Rupfo a Naga from present Arunachal Pradesh State was selected to accompany me. He handed over to us two kgs. of T. N. T explosives saying that the rest like wires, batteries etc. can be available from the town and Mr. Rupfo knows everything of it. (Rupfo is a trained man in handling bomb). But I didn’t buy anything with him instead we went straight to Senapati with the T. N. T explosives because I am not going to do it and Mr. Rupfo is just a junior he has nothing to say about it. Both capt Daniel and Pte. Rupfo didn’t know what was the real intention and what was our target for, only they knew that we were going for a mission which required bomb to blow. Pte. Alauding my personal attendant too witnessed everything though he too didn’t know what and whom the real target was for. (Pte. Alauding is a Poumai from Houmai village)
After reaching Senapati I thought hard over it. I once plan to just explode the bomb without letting touch any of the vehicle of the convoy of D. D. Thaisii and leak if out to all so that he would be safe. But then I know for sure the public would come to know that it was done by me and they won’t know my real intention and I would just unnecessarily earn the wrath of the public. So, after thinking hard over it I at last decided to meet the Army Chief once and tell him that I will not do it and examine what his reaction would be. I went to GHQ in the last week of October and met him but I didn’t say the real reason why I shouldn’t do, I just said, since I am from the same tribe and locality it would be more risky and unsafe for me even for all times to come. He said what about Col. Pukeho will he leak it out to others, I said, I can’t say about him. Then he told me that he would discuss the matter with others and inform me after sometime and so I went back to Senapati.
Again in the 1st week of December, 2007 I reported the matter to the new Army Chief Maj. Gen. Ng. Markson that former Army Chief Lt. Gen. H. S. Ramsan directed me to assassinate D. D. Thaisii, then he too told me to do as order but I told him Sir I had very clearly explained him the reason of my unwillingness to do it and I won’t do it. He again said, so wait I will talk the matter and inform you. But after some days without informing anything about this he summoned me to come to GHQ the next day. On 12th Dec. 2007 I reached at GHQ and met him, but then regarding the confidential mission for which I was sent he didn’t say anything. Instead after four days stay at GHQ I was sent to Dimapur town for duty. I was surprised how this much a confidential matter ended up in this manner and that shows that they’re not happy upon me. I also doubted very much that as I refused some others might have been entrusted for the mission and if that happens and in case any harm befallen upon D. D. Thaisii I would be solely responsible because among the whole of Poumai community from top to bottom I alone know about this sinister plan from within our government that is to come upon one of our Poumai leaders.
I am a man, I said, I am a freedom fighter then how come that I should be allowed to be intimidated by others. I am not a boy working under the leader of a mafia gang. I came to join the National service according to my own will after fully realising our Nagas’ rights. From Zhaimai village representing as a Poumai to the Naga Nation I am in the National service together with all the tribes of the Nagas to unitedly fight for our Nagas’ Independence. Then, how come that some are attempting to use us in suppression and destroying against our own people. I couldn’t breathe in anymore within the NSCN (IM) and so I left it on the night of 24th December, 2007.
A few words I wish to share with my Poumai brethren
O. K fine once I was alone living under the threat of the plotters of this ‘Assassination Plot’ but when I broke the shackles of this threat and come forward myself before all, all are with me and I believe all the rest of Nagas too are with Poumai in this matter. When I broke the news all Poumais particularly those who are holding high post within the NSCN (IM) and public leaders of Poumai whoever have heard were shocked and felt betrayed, yes we are one in body, mind and soul. Now the question lies how strong and effective the Poumais would stand and fight for our rights. Let us ask ourselves how and why the whole community of poumai not even a single poumai knows the reason why D. D. Thaisii should be eliminated from the Naga society and how is it that other alone know the fault of ours and when we will die? Let us also ask the reason how they plot to assassinate him with the name of NSCN(IM) where in fact I believe no kilonser, steering committee Member, tatar, secretary, regional authority etc. from poumai tribe have been consulted and consented to this plot.
I also believe no poumai within NSCN(IM) from top to bottom would ever think and agree that D. D. Thaisii deserved to be eliminated. Then who on earth has the right and power to threaten us? Or are we just living under the tyranny of someone? I said this because I know for sure that even Mr. Azheto Chophy the then Kilo Kilonser of that time and almost all the kilonsers, steering committee members of the NSCN(IM) would not know about this assassination plot. Then who are the real plotters? We must find out this group who exercise power and act like mafia (gang) within the NSCNIM) in the guise of being as freedom fighters.
But I still doubt how our poumai who are holding high post within NSCN(IM) will react and fight for our rights this time too, because every time and for every problem they were made to stand with the decision of those people whether right or wrong as ‘national decision’ or in the name of maintaining and upholding of their so called ‘national principle’ or for the sake of ongoing peace process for they have been so long trained, tamed and brought up in that way. Next to the Tangkhuls and Sumis the Poumais are the largest component of NSCN(IM) set up and we have well representation in the government. We too have our own Shepoumaramth region formed and set up since from the very inception of the NSCN formation. More and above the NSCN(IM) survived and grew up to this height and size because of the help and mercies of the Shepoumaramth people. Then how come today the Poumais are the most victimised people under NSCN(IM)’s rule.
Are we Poumais joining NSCN(IM) just because we are too weak a people to stand and survive among others as a tribe, that others are forcing and recruiting us to join them to serve their interest or are we in the NSCN(IM) as those of the French Labour Corps that were taken to Europe? Though we Nagas were once called naked and had nothing, we chose freedom and dare to fight the mighty India and Myanmar. Yes, though we were once poor, backward, uncivilized and lived in headhunting we become a proud and blessed people with the light coming of the light of the Gospel of Christ into our land. With our faith as Christian and with the proudness of our heart as a brave people we Nagas never feel small and weak.
We fought together for our rights and thousands lives have been unsparingly laid down for the just cause of ‘Nagaland for Christ’ and we Poumais are very much a part of the Nagas in all the fights and sufferings from the very beginning up till now. Then how today some people are trying to teach us a new method of their own in the Naga freedom struggle. Nagaland is too small to play politics of domination among ourselves like that of European nations in the past. Should we stop fighting against India and Myanmar who are under occupation of our country and started to fight first among ourselves for domination as some people are pursuing its policy. Our freedom spirit and our bravery are being exploited to achieve their own selfish policy of its domination over others, and our patience are being taken for otherwise. Today, before we seek solution with India and Myanmar we need to correct it first among ourselves. To me the voice of the Eastern Naga People are the most sincere and sweet, their voice is loud and clear, “Unity first Solution next”.
Remember, today, I am wandering and hiding in unknown places unable to live in my own place with my own people. Have I done any criminal act that I deserve to be living in this way or is there anyone among the Poumais that I did was an act of traitor, betrayal and cowardice. Come if anybody think that way I will come and die before all so that our nation will be purged of evils. If what I did was right and if it was a sacrifice please do not seek compromise between me and the NSCN(IM) as some body have suggested. This is an issue between NSCN(IM) and all of us and not mine own or that of D. D. Thaisii only. I risked my life and come forward to fight together with all of you to put an end to all dangers and injustice.
aj. Z. D. Akho
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A brief fact of the problem in the Thiwa village

 The background:

Thiwa village isone among aged old indigenous traditional village of the Poumai Naga tribe. Thevillage is known as Dapei by Thiwa villages, also known as Pouhmai or Pamai byother Poumai Villagers. It is located in Purul Sub Division of SenapatiDistrict, Manipur 101KM away from the state capital and 54km from districtheadquarter. A total of 218 families are residing in the village with apopulation of 1309 (census 2011). Original inhabitants of the village arehistorically, socially, politically, traditionally and culturally Poumai Naga.The most significant historical, traditional, social and cultural facts arethat traditional Poumai edible salt called the POUTAI was manufactured here byThiwa villagers and supplied to other Poumai villages. And before the light ofChristianity came, the wealthy families of the village did, and unlike theTangkhul Feast of Merit who would erect only wooden post as told by thevillagers all the Feast of Merit performers had erected stone monolith and nonehad erected wooden post. Folk dance, songs and traditional dress are same asthat of all the Poumai villages. Recently, all the Poumai people and otherNagas witnessed the performing dance troupe of Thiwa representing Poumai Tribeduring Lui-Ngai-Ni festival 2015 held at Tahamzam (Senapati).

The administration of the villageis the same as that of all the Poumai villages. It is a sub-administrative unitof Khongdei circle under Chilivei Naga Union which is zonal unit of Poumai NagaUnion, Purul Block, 47 Karong Assembly Constituency in Senapati Distirct ofManipur. Mention may be made here that the educated persons from Thiwa (Pouhmai)village led the people of Chilivei area in the organization of Chelivei NagaUnion, Chilivei Student Union, other programmes and activities for developmentand unity. Mention also may be made here that Shri. Thuingalen Lamgahva aninhabitant of Thiwa (Pouhmai) village was the founder President of the ChiliveiNaga Union in 1963. The gospel of Jesus Christ wasbrought to Thiwa village by Tangkhul brethren, established the Church andnurtured it till 1973. The villagers were taught using Bible and Hymnal booksin Tangkhul dialect. So, Thiwa villagers were very used to this dialect. But inthe year 1974 during the Manipur North Baptist Naga Association’s conventionheld at Punanamai, Rev. Ningol Woleng the then Field Director of WesternTangkhul Naga Baptist Association (WTNBA) officially handed over Thiwa BaptistChurch to Manipur North Naga Baptist Association (MNBA) with the view that itwas not wise for Thiwa Baptist Church to be attached to WTNBA because Thiwavillage is a Poumai Village. Then, Thiwa Baptist Church became full-fledgedBaptist Church affiliated to Poumai Naga Baptist Association (PNBA) since theinception of PNBA in 1978. Mention may be made here that Thiwa Baptist Churchhosted the annual fellowship of PNBA in 1982.

 

In the year 1984, Thiwa BaptistChurch affiliated to WTNBA/TBCA without having any recommendation from PNBA ledby some vested interest leaders when PNBA imposed disciplinary action on theground that Thiwa Baptist Church defied rules and regulations of the PNBA. Butsome of the Thiwa villagers revolted against the affiliation of Thiwa BaptistChurch to WTNBA/TCBA. As such the PNBA with a view to reunite church membersdeputed Pastor Woba Kadu to Thiwa village in 2009 and served there till 2014 ashe was recalled by the PNU on the 8th Nov. 2014. Even though there is problem inthe church matter, the village is a unit Poumai Masou Me (now Poumai Naga Union)and other frontal organizations of Poumai Naga Tribe. Till today they activelyparticipate in all social and political affairs. But recently, along with thechurch problem, some villagers claimed that they belong to Tangkhul tribewhereas the original inhabitants of the village are against their claim on thehistorical ground that it is against the tradition, norms and practices ofNagas.

 

The fact of the tradition, norms and practices is that when any outsiders(new comer from other village) seeks for settlement in an indigenoustraditional village, they can be given permission to settle down in the villageby the condition that they are attached to any of the existing clan/khel oftheir choice and with an oath to abide by the law of the land, they are notallowed to form a new clan or khel in the village. Another recent problem isthe dispute in Headmanship and leadership in the village politics. The Thiwavillage was for sometime divided into two groups headed by two chairmen andthere was clash of interest in the leadership. But it was resolved by the PNUamicably by setting up of one unanimous administration. Some of the evidencesare enclosed (See Annexures-I) The problem crop up today as thevillage was still divided in the church matter due to the undue influence andinstigation by the Western Tangkhul Church leadership. The Major interventions of PoumaiNaga Union into the Thiwa village problem so far are:

 

The Zingtun Longphang Karot (TNZL)Western Tangkhul leadership in connivance with the NSCN leadership continued tointerfere and instigate the Thiwa villagers not to cooperate with Poumai NagaUnion and the Poumai Naga Baptist Association and this continue for long 33years, long enough to wear out the patience of the Poumai people. And hence,the Poumai Masou Me (Poumai Naga Union) submitted a representation to the KiloKilonser, GPRN dated the 16th December 2006, wherein No.2 of thecharters of demand stated as follows “Stop annexation of Poumai villages onceand for all and particularly the Thiwa village and withdraw all arbitraryorders made by NSCN (IM)and stop interfering in the Poumai internal village affairs” This has been demanded with theclear mandate of the people that Thiwa village problem is a family or internal matter, and as such interferences of the NSCN (im) in the people of Thiwavillage.

In reply to the above demand, the Chief Principal Secretary, Government of the People Republic of Nagalim, Mr.Samson Jajo wrote a letter dated the 7th July 2008 to the President,Poumai Hoho wherein Point No.2 stated as follows “it is the principal of GPRNthat all Naga tribes, big or small are equal on the issue of the tribalidentity. Imposition of one identity to other is prohibited. However, in theTheiva village, Poumai and Tangkhuls have been living together peacefully formany years. So their identity remains as it is and shall be under theadministrative jurisdiction of Poumai. This had been clarified by theGovernment when Mr. R.H. Raising was then the Kilo Kilonser.” (Annexure-II)

 

The Poumai Naga Union in itsGeneral Assembly held on the 26th April 2011 at Tusii Ngani KhumaiSenapati village with Mr. P.T. Daniel Speaker PNU in the chair passed aunanimous Resolution No. 5 endorsing the PNU executive council to deal with theThiwa issue and also empowered the executive Council/member to set upvolunteers if and when need arises out of the issue. The said resolution wasreaffirmed on 26th May 2012 and 26th April 2014 atRikhumai Taphou respectively. The PNU Executive Council underthe leadership of Mr.Ng.Lorho the then President of Poumai Naga Union after aseries of consultative meetings with the Thiwa villagers, came to a conclusionthat there shall be only one village Authority council and one Church under thejurisdiction of PNU which is duly signed by all the parties. But the problem ofone church could not be complied. Then the Poumai Naga Union in itsgeneral Assembly held on the 8th of November 2014 at Thiwa villagewith Mr. C.D. Jongeo John Speaker PNU in the Chair passed the followingresolutions on Thiwa village problem:

Resolution No. 1. That existingThiwa Baptist Church will have only one administrative unit under the under thejurisdiction of the Poumai Naga Baptist Association (PNBA).

Resolution No.2. That PNBA shouldwelcome and receive the Thiwa Baptist Church without restoration service andexempt them from all the past dues.

Resolution No. 3. That PastorPeter is asked to take responsibility of looking after the Church members ofthe village with equal treatment.

Resolution No. 4. That all the formalitiesfor re-affiliation of different authorities, social organizations like Studentbody and women society to their respective parentsauthorities/organizations/unions such as Poumai Naga Union, Poumai Naga BaptistAssociation, Poumai Naga Catholic Mai Me (PNCM), Poumai Naga Naotou mai Me (PMNM)Poumai Naga Tsiidou Me (PNTM). Etc, should be completed within December 2014.

Resolution No.5. That,appropriate action will be initiated against the Thiwa Village if the villagefails to comply the above resolutions of the PNU.

And in the process if anyproblem arises out to the matter all expenses incurred will be borne by theThiwa village. Since the Thiwa villagers failedto comply with the above resolutions adopted by the Poumai Naga Union GeneralAssembly, the Poumai Naga Union held a Peoples’ Convention on the 30thJanuary 2015 at Koide (Nahmai Zho) wherein declared, “to protect and safeguardthe Thiwa village from any external threat and disturbance”. The Poumai people are convincedthat Thiwa was founded by the Poumai ancestors and to defend a Poumai villageis the birth right of every Poumai Naga and in defending the Poumai land thereis no any violation of the Universal Human Right principles. In the process of Poumaisattempt to defend its land and people we have been thrown a challenge by theWestern Tangkhul that they would bring double the number of the Poumaivolunteers to defend the Thiwa village as a Tangkhul village.

 

Now that thePoumai people though weak and small shall defend its own land and people at anycost. As per the declaration of thePeoples’ Convention, the Poumai Youth front was raised to defend and safeguardthe Thiwa village from any external threat. Thereupon, the Kilo Kilonser of theNSCN (IM) invited the Poumai Naga union executive members wherein a leadershipof strong 25 members went to meet the NSCN to have a discussion on the matteron the 16th of February 2015 at Hebron. In that meeting the Poumaileadership feeling that the NSCN (IM) has been fed with a one sided story ofour opponent, the leadership clearly clarified the position and the stand ofthe Poumai people. The Kilo Kilonser told the Poumai delegates that now he hadheard the story from both sides that he would meet the Poumai leaders within ashort span of time. And without meeting the second time, the NSCN (IM) issuedan order banning the Poumai Naga Union dated the 18th of February2015, the official copy of which was delivered to the Poumai Naga Union officeonly on the 28th February after widely circulating the order in Dimapur area and publishing it in the local dailies and in the internet.

The Poumai leadership is curiouswhether defending its own land or aggressing against others land is violativeof the Universal Human Rights principles. Thiwa village issue is just aninternal and family problem of the Poumai Naga and the PNU has never usedcoercion to assimilate anybody into our fold nor has it tried to aggrandizeanybody’s land into our jurisdiction. To the contrary of what the NSCN hasalleged the Western Tangkhul people have been trying to forcibly wrest away outland and people into the Tangkhul fold. The Poumai People feel that wehave been doubly sinned against by banning the Poumai Naga Union and brandingthe Poumai People as Anti-national for it is the conviction of our people thatwe have not committed any serious blunder tantamount to be termed asAnti-national.

Issued By: PNU Consultative Body.

A Trip to Less trodden Road : Purul Sub-Division, Manipur

R.B. Thohe Pou *

In this modern era – who would like to travel 5-10 hours on foot? Do you believe that most of the villages in Purul Sub-division, Senapati District, Manipur still travel 5-10 hours on foot to catch the Bus from the nearest village bus station or from NH39?

Even if you believe this fact – you need to travel on foot to these villages to feel the reality in your heart as you burn your feet and ache your entire body. The Purul Sub-division in Senapati District is dominated by Poumai Naga tribe with one of the highest population growth rate in India. There are 60 revenue villages and about 40% of the total villages have not Jeepable road during rainy season .

Recently a friend of mine – name John Basho Pou, a Journalist – who loves to preserve the rich traditional culture and an enthusiastic explorer to new places – took a trip together to the eastern parts of Poumai Naga dominated areas to see the ground reality of these villages.For the first time – the Bus commenced to ply from Senapati Headquarter to Lakhamai village in 2004. However till today, no Jeep or TATA Sumo is plyable during the rainy season. Most of the village in Chiliive circle (Purul Sub-division) are located around 60-70 Kms away from Senapati Headquarter.

In 1990s people traveled on foot around 14-16 hours to catch the Bus from NH39 at Maram Bazar. Just ponder how the villagers from Songdo, Thiwa, Ngari, Khongdei, Kodom, Ngamju etc still travel around 6-8 hours on foot to catch the Bus from the nearest village Bus station (Purul village).

As there is no Bus service from Senapati to Sirong village, which is one of the main village to reach the other villages. We took a TATA Sumo from Senapati and went to Sirong village (original village of NSCN leader Muivah, before migrated to Ukhrul District).

We were excited as we reached Sirong village since we’ve never been to this circle also we are going to travel on foot and encounter the ground reality. From Sirong village – we went on foot to Khongdei (Dumai) village, which took around two and half hours.

The Kutcha Road is small and copious with bushes; it is also sloping steep from Sirong to Iril River and from Iril River to Khondei village. From Khongdei village, we went on foot to Kodom Khavii, Kodom Khullen, Lakhamai and back to Sirong village. However we are regretted for we could not go to Songdo village (Poumai Indigenous Salt producing village) and other villages like, Thiwa, Ngari village etc due to rain and exhaustion.

As we traveled in the wilderness – we heard the sweet song of Cicada, birds and other wild animals. If John Keats or Alfred Tennyson or any poet would have travel on this less travel road – they would have composed a beautiful poem. However we had recorded only the sweet song of Cicada in my friend’s type recorder as a memento of our trip to less trodden road.

The Bus ply in the Kutcha Road from Maram Bazar (NH39) to Purul village is in a pathetic condition forget about plying the buses after Purul village.

In this computer era – when people possess their own Helicopter and Mercedes – some of the villagers in Chiliive circle have not even seen the Bus – forget about travelling by Bus from their villages to District Headquarter.

As we talked to the village authorities (Gaonboras) and asked about their problem – the villagers are crying for help to construct the bus playable road linking to their villages from Senapati Headquarter. It seems the villages in this areas are the forgotten villages in Manipur.

In this less or less trodden road – how many Politicians, Political leaders, NGOs, Government Officers etc have travel on foot to these villages? Who dare to travel on foot to see the ground reality or have the patient to listen the grievances of these villagers? In this less educated villages – who will voice their grievances in local or national Newspaper?

This year there was an epidemic occurred in some villages but it was reported very late to the concern officers. There was also drought in some villages in this area but only God knows and who else will know. There is Primary Health Sub-Center in some villages but there is not Doctor or Nurse.

Due to road transportation and communication problems – many villagers also died every year as they cannot take the sick people to the district hospitable.

The newly constructing road from Senapati Headquarter to Phaibung village is going to pass through many villages in this areas but only God knows when it will be completed and ply the bus.

If the present constructing road is successful – it would ease the problem of travelling on foot on this areas. Not only ease the problem of travelling on foot but it would also boost their economic life as there is great potentiality of truck farming in these villages.

Once the road transportation is improved and commence the truck farming in these villages – it would be a great help to many people in Imphal, Senapati, Kohima and Dimapur to get fresh vegetables in abundant. Vegetables farming is possible to carry out in some villages in Mao-Maram and Paomata Sub-division as there is better road transportation and marketing facilities.

Once the Mao’s potatoes, cabbage, plum etc were very popular in Manipur and Nagaland due to high quality and cheap availability. But today the Poumai’s Potatoes and Cabbages are becoming more popular in Imphal, Senapati, Kohima and Dimapur as the farmers do not use the chemical fertilizers and it is cheaply available with high quality.

In Paomata sub-division a village name Tungjoy is very famous of cabbage cultivation. On an average they earned around 40-50 thousand rupees per year from cabbage cultivation. The Poumai Naga tribe has one of the biggest cultivable farm land in Senapati District and there is great potentiality to do truck farming both in Paomata and Purul Sub-division once there is good road transportation and communication facilities.

In conclusion, I would like to suggest many things to be done for these poor villages like construction of road, regular electricity, medical facilities, educational institution etc.

However the present urgent need is to have good road transportation. Therefore I would like to request and suggest the Government of Manipur, local politicians, political leaders, Poumai Masou Me (Poumai Naga Union), Poumai Tsiidoumai Me (Poumai Students Union) and the public leaders to seriously consider the urgent need of these villages and construct the bus plyable road.

As I mentioned above – once there is good road transportation in these areas, there will surplus fresh vegetables in Imphal, Senapati, Kohima and Dimapur through out the year, which will be a great benefit to these villagers and to the people in the periphery villages and towns.
_________________________________
Written on 17th Dec.05
Source: epao.net
R.B. Thohe Pou, a resident of Manipur, contributes regularly to e-pao.net
You can email the writer at thohepou@rediffmail.com
This article was webcasted on 07th January 2006.

Poumai Naotumai Me (Poumai Women Union) Silver Jubilee concludes

Three-day silver jubilee celebration of Poumai Naotumai me (Poumai women society) the apex body of Poumai’s women union concluded with a grand programme on Thursday. The celebration was hosted by Tunjoy village where thousands women from different villages attended the programme under the president ship of SK. Tabitha as and D.L Rone as general secretary.

Poumai Naotumai Me Pix: NPN

Poumai Naotumai Me Pix: NPN

Kh. Süle Anthony deputy registrar JNU Delhi the speaker said mothers have a great role to play for the betterment of the society including teaching values and ethics to their children at home. He stressed on the importance of knowing and preserving ones original roots without which their identity would be lost adding he said “our culture is the reflection of our identity”.

Anthony encouraged women to be a role model in the family and society and also learn to live together with different people in the midst of the differences. He said though women may not get the platform to speak and make major decision in the decision making meeting, they can guide and advise the husband the words of wisdom at home.

Warshang Hungyo IAS assistant deputy commissioner Senapati in his address as the chief guest of the valedictory function said the PNM has gone through the 25 years with many success stories and still many more to go ahead with great vision and hard work.

He said women were the one who shape the future of the society by passing the good values to their children. Nehemiah CDPO Mao the guest of honour of the valedictory function in his address encouraged the union and its members to be more united and show concern for one another.

Around 2500 delegates from 42 villages, NPO, ANSAM, PNBA, NWU, PNU, PNTM and others attended the silver jubilee.
It may be mentioned that Poumai women instilled to form the union after Oinam accident where Assam Rifles tortured and imposed curfew in Poumai land following the camp attack by Naga insurgency on July 9, 1987 at Oinam village.

As per the souvenir of the jubilee it said the excessive Indian Army so called “operation bluebird” has killed 27 people and tortured the innocent public in various manners.   NPN

Maiba Baptist Church (Poumai Naga) celebrates 75 yrs

Contributed by Solomon Sha

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Maiba Baptist Church Platinum Jubilee Hall

First ever platinum jubilee for the Baptist Church in Poumai land was celebrated at and hosted by Maiba Baptist Church (the first Baptist church under PNBA) on the theme “ Jesus is Lord”. The jubilee was organized by Poumai Naga Baptist Association (PNBA) from December 11- 13, where more than 6000 people turned up for the celebration from different places.

It may be mentioned that the gospel was first brought to Poumai area ( Maiba village) by Mikrü Lohrü of Punanamai village in 1937 where 7 seven namely S. Row, Lachao Dalie, S. Shawo, D. Reihe, Th. Panü, D. Shehe and H. Sounü were converted and baptized by Kholi Puni. At present under PNBA has 81 churches including town churches and branch churches.

Rev. H. Gideon executive secretary PNBA in his greetings said “as we celebrate together the Lordship of Jesus Christ, one should look back at the past 75 years in history of Christianity in Poumai land and should praise for His marvelous blessings in the pilgrimage of our association”. He said, one should experience Lordship of Jesus Christ, in churches and in associations.

Rev. Dr. Jonathan Ansar renowned preacher and pro-chancellor, Truth University and president of All India united Christian front as one of the speakers said people could not escape from the clutches of Satan/evil if the power of Jesus was not in them.  Rev. Thakzü minister at-large Indian evangelical mission (IEM) and also first reverend under PNBA speaking at one of the services said the theme “Jesus is Lord” can be claimed only by the people who are in Him. He encouraged the believers to have the mind of soul winning mission in their hearts wherever they are as that is the will of God.

Speaking on the theme of the Jubilee “Jesus is Lord” Rev. James Dhale president Royal ambassadors Academy (RAA) said God was the creator, redeemer, ruler in eternity and controller of everything happening in this universe including invisible things.  Jubilee greetings were delivered by Rev. Dr. Zabu Terhuza president ETC, Rev. Dr. Kholi principal Manipur theological college, Rev. T. Karang executive secretary MRNBA, Apila executive secy. Thangal Naga Baptist association, Rev. K. Koda executive secy. MBCA and Rev. R.L. Simon pastor Manipur Baptist convention center church Imphal. PNBA choir, Mao Baptist Churches Association choir, Maiba Baptist church choir and Poumai Razeba range Baptist churches choir were the jubilee choirs.

 

Migration of Poumai Naga from Makhel – Naga dispersal site

The Poumai Naga– etymology

The Poumai Naga tribe is a major tribe and one of the oldest among Nagas. The descendants of POU are known as POUMAI. The descendants of POU are MEO, LEO PAO and PROU. According to the Poumai legend, it is believed that the Poumai and Mao ancestor name was ‘SHEPOU’ (POU)’. And the people of Mao and Poumai are known as ‘Shepoumai’. Here ‘MAI’ which means people. The word, ‘Shepoumaramth’ is derived from the word, ‘Shepou’ which means the people of ‘Mao and Poumai’. The word, ‘Maramth’ which means the ‘Maram and Thangal’. The Poumai Naga and Mao are referred to as ‘Shepoumai’ since time immemorial as their progenitor was POU or SHEPOU. The Poumai and Mao are the blood-brother and they are from the same ancestor. It is believed that during the British Anthropological survey in Manipur, the interpreter wrongly informed the British that Poumai and Mao are known as Mao Tribe though it is supposed to be known as ‘Shepoumai’.60 Since then the name of the tribe was recorded as Mao tribe. Infact, the name ‘Mao’ is also a foreign language to the people of ‘Memei’ or ‘Ememei’. There was some misunderstanding between the Poumai Naga and Mao for many years due to this misinformation. However the problem was solved after the POUMAI NAGA tribe was recognized as a separate tribe by the Central Government of India under the Constitution of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled tribe Order (Amendment) Act 2002.

The word Poumai is derived from two syllables “POU” and “MAI”. “POU” was the progenitor of Poumai and “MAI” is the descendants of POU. In other words, POU is the name of the ancestor and his descendants are known as POUMAI. The literal meaning of POUMAI means “People of Pou” According to Vaison Pou there are eight different patriarchal heads namely- Memiiwo, Khrasi, Akrow, Paodu, Dukku, Liidu, Lapaosuru and Prowo. They lived together at Makhel for some period of time before they migrated to the different villages.61 As the legends and folktales were not written in the olden days, there is variation from one person to another person about the patriarchal heads and migration. But it is believed that Lapaosuru, Paoyao (Paodu) and Propoziio were the last Poumai progenitors who took the Poumai enmass from Makhel to their present villages. According to the oral history of Mao tribe, it is believed that a White Cloud (Kahe kakra) enveloped a woman named Dziiliamosiiro, while she was sleeping under the peepal tree and she conceived and bore three sons, namely- Ashupfo Alapha (dark complexion race), Chiituwo (Meitei race) and Khephip (Naga race).

Diagram 3.2 Genealogical Evolution The above genealogical evolution from a woman is only a legend and not very scientific and one finds since the historic times human beings create myths and narrate different stories at different times. However the genealogical evolution from Shipfowo (Pou) to his descendants is convincing and narrated from generation to generation. According the oral tradition of Nagas and based on oral history, genealogical evolution can be traced as-

Diagram 3.3 Oral History-Genealogical Evolutions

 Poumai diagramThe Poumai Naga took the wave of migration from Makhel in two directions-Northeast and South East direction. The descendant of Liio (Lepaona) took the southeast direction and settled at Koide village under the leadership of Chief Rokhuo.                                                                      

Diagram 3.3 Poumai Paoh (Progenitors of Poumai) Progenitors of Poumai The descendants of Pao (Paomata) took the northeast direction and settled at Saranamai village after the four Chiefs were chosen to head the new settlement. The descendants of Prou (Chiliive) also went in the northeast direction and settled at Prouphii. However some believed that all the Poumai first migrated to Saranamai and then migrated to different circles or areas. The whole Poumai Naga community is divided into three units or circles for administrative convenience as-

  1. Paomata Circle
  2. Lepaona Circle
  3. Chilvai Circle

3.7.1. Paomata Circle The descendants of PAO are called as Paomata. The word PAOMATA is derived from their progenitor name PAO. In Paomata circle, there are two historical ethnic groups known as “Ranapao” and “Raonapao”. Ranapao had four sons and Raonapao hads two sons.  

Migration from Makhel The Paomata migrated from Makhel to the north of Makhel under the leadership of Paoyao and settled at SIIFII (Saranamai village). In order to select the residence of the chief, a bell was struck to test the audacity of its sound and a cock was also made to crow. As the bell sound was good and the cock crew in four different spots. Four chiefs were chosen to head the new settlements. The four chiefs houses were built by four “Peorow” who were fortune tellers and lastly the public houses were built.63

Migration from Saranamai village The Paomata first settled at Saranamai (Siifii) after they emigrated from Makhel. The Saranamai settled at the present Saranamai village, while many others moved towards northeast seeking a better place where the present villages are located. Today, the persons in Paomata circle have migrated from six villages from Saranamai. The Saranamai, Maiba, Phuba, and Liyai were the descendants of RANAPAO.In the other two villages of Tungjoy and Tunggam were the descendants of RAONAPAO.64

Ranapao descendants: The descendants of Siipao settled at Saranamai village while the other three descendants migrated to different areas and formed their own settlements. The Khipao (Maibai’s progenitor) went to the south of Saranamai village crossing the Barak River and settled down near the Koide village. The Zhaipao led his descendants to the northeast of Saranamai and settled at present in Liyai village. The present Liyai village is the biggest village amongst the Poumai villages. The Phyapao led the migration in the northeast direction and went beyond Liyai village. It seems they migrated after the Zhaipao since the Zhaipao had already occupied the land, they were pressed further northeast from Liyai village. The descendants of Ranapao took a sacred vow during their dispersal from Saranamai village not to fight each other in Headhunting. They also made a vow to unitedly fight against their enemies. They have a common observation of death rituals when some one dies in their villages.

Raonapao descendants: The present Tunggam and Tungjoy villagers are known to be the descendants of Raonapao. They are the blood brothers as they are from the same ancestors. Tungjoy led the migration from Saranamai in the northeast direction and settled at the present Tungjoy village, while Tunggam took the southwest direction from Saranamai village and settled in Tunggam village. These two villages are located in the northwestern parts of Poumai dominated areas where better road transportation is available at present; it is bordered with Phek district of Nagaland.

3.7.2. Lepaona Circle Liio or Leo was the progenitor of Lepaona.  Leo’s descendants are called Lepaona or Leopaonese. The Lepaona, guided by a Tiger and Eagles migrated from Makhel (Naga dispersal site) to Koide village (Lepaona dispersal site). The name LEPAONA is derived from the word PAO-LIIO-NA, which means “grand father Liio’s progenies or descendants”. The literary meaning of LEPAONA means “grandchildren of Leo or descendants of Leo”

Migration from Makhel: In the history of Lepaona, it is mentioned that they migrated in the Southeast direction from Makhel. It is said that on the day of Lepaona people leaving from Makhel to present Lepaona villages, Lapaoshuru (Rou) was late, and a strong and brave man name Khyapou Dukhuo (Dukhuo from Makhel) blocked the way with a sword (kho/Dao). However, a lionhearted man name LAPAOSURU (Rou) screamed at the top of his voice and jumped over Dukhuo and his shield was slightly cut by Khyapou Dukhuo. The Lanamai believed that the shield used by Lapaosuru is still preserved at

Photo: 3.6 Lapaosuru’s Shields

the King’s  residence at Purul Akutpa. During fieldwork, the researcher met (Hiikhani ) the present King and interviewed him and also took the picture of that shield. (See photo). Thus, the Liipaona (Lepaona) conceded that they emigrated from Makhel and first settled at Koide village under the Chief of ROKHUO.65 Poudufii or Poudeifii is located at Koide village. According to Raini Pao, the literary meaning of POUDUFII means “the discussion place of the Poumai Naga community” All the important meetings and deliberations were held at Poudufii at Koide village. It is mentioned that even the Angami tribe from Nagaland also joined in the meetings and discussions held at Koide village. The Poumai Naga community erected a memory stone at Poudufii. There are five important villages in Lepaona circle namely, Koide, Purul, Thingba Khullen, Thingba Khunou and Oinam village. All the other village in the periphery of the five villages are settled by migrants from those five villages and some from other villages. The Khongdei villagers who were migrants from Koide village (dispersal site of Lepaona) actually belong to Lepaona circle but now administratively they bare in Chiliive circle.  

Migration of Lepaona from Koide village: i) Koide and Purul In ancient times, Koide village was an important site or village for Poumai Naga community for discussing important matters. The Koide or Naamai settled at Koide village. But the Hiimai (Purul) migrated from Koide and settled at Purul village around 5 kms to the northeast of Koide village.

Photo3.5 Koide village                    Monolith at Koide village  


Koide and Purul are blood brothers according to legend.The Hiima migrated to the present Purul village due to increase of the population at Koide village. Today, there are three Purul villages namely – Purul Atongba, Purul Akutpa and Rosofii.

  ii) Thingba Khullen and Khunou According to legend, Thingba Khullen and Thingba Khunou villagers are blood brothers. They migrated from Koide village and settled at Thingba Khullen (Chaonamai) around seven km to the south of Koide village. The Thingba Khunou (Shomai) first settled at Chaonamai village and then shifted to Shomai village around 5 km from Chaonamai village due to increase of population in the village. The literary meaning of Shomai means, “Shifted people”

iii) Dumai (Khongdei) It is believed that Khongdei migrated from Koide village to the Northeast, around 15km and settled at Khongdei village. Dumai first migrated from Koide and settled at Purul village and that area is still known as “Dunafii” which mean Dumai’s site. According to legend, the site (Purul Akutpa) they first settled was filled with thorny bushes and stones. So they migrated further in search of a better site for settlement. Another legend tells us that Dumai Pao carried a stone from Makehl with an instruction that Dumai Pao should settle in that particular site where the stone falls down. As the stone fell at the present Dumai village, they settled there. There are three Dumai villages at present.

iv) Lahnamai Lahnamai’s (Rou) descendants were known as Lahnamai.They first settled at Upper Koide village and still dilapidated Lanapao (Lana’s mound stones) remained at Koide village. It is alleged that Naamai and Lahnamai squabbled with each other due to the notorious life style of Lapaosuru, so later he and his clan migrated to Rosofii around 5 km from Koide village. Then they migrated to Dunaphii, another area (now occupied by Dunamai) and lived there for some years. In the past this clan was well known for moving from one area to another area. They further shifted to Purul Atongba. During the feast of paddy transplantation, when Lapaosuru went out from his house to get some meat for the feast, some men form Thiwa village lynched him. After Lapaosuru was killed, all his clan migrated to Khamsom village, extreme south of Lepaona area and settled there. Pao Lepei and Hiinii Ngaole Pao came back to Purul Akutpa from Khamsom and settled down permanently. Oinam village is one of the largest villages in Lepaona circle. The Poumai earthen pots are manufactured only in this village since time immermorial. According to Dowang, the Oinam (people of Oinam) led the migration in the southeast direction from Makhel reaching the Barak River, and then proceeded to the south through Nghaphouzhe range and eventually reached Koide and then sojourned at Pouduffi for some time. However they started to move further to the present Oinam village for a permanent settlement. When they reached Oinam, the rooster did crow in the hand of the ancestor. Then the ancestor dug up the earth with a walking stick and found the similar soil found at Makhel for making earthen pots. Since then they settled at the present Oinam village. Today there are other four villages namely, Ngamju, Tingsong, Sorbung and Laila who migrated from Oinam village. In addition, some of the Oinam villagers have also migrated to Ukhrul district and Thangal areas in Senapati district where they merged with the other tribes.

 3.7.3 Immigration to Chilivai Circle The people from Chilivai circle also originally emigrated from Makhel. It is believed that they first settled at Saranamai village and then moved to Paomata circle and ultimately settled at Chilivai circle. However based on personal interview and fieldwork, it is found that they had directly migrated from Makhel. An egg was given to their ancestor with instructions not to settle down in at any site until the chicken is hatched. As they reached Prouphii, a chicken was hatched and their ancestor settled there after all the religious rites and rituals were performed. Some of the villages in the Chilivai area are said to be from Paomata Circle and Lepaona circle. It is also believe that Khongdei villagers had migrated from Koide village that belong to Lepaona circle. The Proumai initially inhabited at Khoubu (Phuba Thapham) but later shifted to Chilivai areas. The substantial villages of Proumai are Kodom, Lakhamai, Shirong and Shamai. However, Shamai village was merged with other villages. There are some other villages in Chilivai circle in addition to the four largest villages. All the religious rites and rituals were observed together in those four villages.

Pic: Monolith of Proumai dispersal site                      

3.7.4. Poumai in Phek District, Nagaland Today about 6,500 Poumais live in Phek District of Nagaland.They are commonly called  “Razeba”in the Chakhesang tribe. There are four Poumai villages in Phek district they are namely: – Razeba, Zhavame, Zelome and Tsufume.66  

Emigration from Paomata to Phek district (Nagaland) The Poumai Villagers in Phek district hail from the Paomata villages. The British geographically demarcated the Poumai villages in Phek district and included them in Nagaland during the British period because they have the same custom, tradition, rites and rituals as the other Poumai Nagas in Manipur. Due to contacts with other tribes in Nagaland, they speak Poula (Poumai dialect) and also the common dialect Tenyidie, Chokri and Khezha of Chakhesang dialect, apart from Nagamese. The Poumai Ma Sou Me (Poumai Naga Union) PMM is the apex body of all the Poumais. The Poumais in Phek district also comes under this PMM where they participate and celebrate together all the Poumais feasts like Thounii, held in 2002. In addition to above the circles and villages, there are 11 other villages, which are located in the periphery of National Highway 39. The Moi clan (Muivah clan) Tangkhul clan hails from Shirong village (Chiliive areas) and they later migrated to Sodom village. The Muivah clan of Tangkhul and Poumai from Sirong still retain contacts each other, They are trying hard to have better relations with each other despite major differences the regarding demarcation of different districts and tribes. To quote Shimray, the MOI clan (now Muivah clan) has clearly traced their origin from Makhel, and gradually to Liyai, Shirong, Khongdei, Lunghar and Somdal village for some periods of time before they moved on to the next.”67 The Ngatang people were also believed to be Poumai by origin and they speak Poula. Ngatang and still inhabit the Poumai dominated areas, but later they merged with the Maram tribe in 1980s.

References Special Note: The references given below are not in order.  Sorry for the inconveniences 1. R.R. Shimray (1985), Origin and Culture of Nagas New Delhi, Somsok Publications, p-2 2. J.P. Mills (1922) The Lotha Naga, p-xvi 16. Shakespeare L.W. (1914), History of upper Assam, Upper Burma and North East Frontier, p-197 17. Horam (1975), p-25 18. Personal interview (2003), Saluni P. (Head man Koide village) interviewed on 23 May at Koide village and Vio R. Ex-MLA interviewed on 3rd June at Vakho village. 19. Shimray R.R., p-13 20. Ibid, p-31 21. Vio R. 2003, Personal Interviews on 3 June 2003 at Vakho village.23. Nepuni William (1999), Our language and etymology, in Communiqué, Mao Students, Delhi, p-8 24. Pao Raini, (2002), A socio-cultural profile of the Poumai tribe, Souvenir: The Poumai Thounii Celebration 2002, at Zhaimai-Liyai, p-11 25. James R.K. (1985), The Poumai Naga Tribe of Manipur: A Socio-Cultural Study, M.Phil. Thesis, Manipur University, Unpublished, p-17 26. Personal Interviews 2003, Salunii P. On 23-5-03 at Koide village, and Vio R. on 3-6- 03 at Vakho village. 27. Rhi Zhonyi 2002, Poumai Community in Nagaland, Souvenir: The Poumai Thounii Celebration, on 4-7 Jan.2002 at Zhaimai- Liyai Village. p-23 28. Shimray R.R., p-26   @Dr. Thohe Pou

A Brief Introduction of Poumai Naga in Northeast India

The Poumai Naga country is geographically located in Manipur and Phek district in Nagaland. The Poumai Naga is one of the oldest and largest Naga tribe in Manipur. According to the Hill house tax in 2001, the total population of the Poumai tribe is 151,005. (Including the Poumai in Nagaland). About 95.7% of the total population of Poumai is in the Senapati district, Manipur. There are four villages in Phek district of Nagaland with a population of about 6,500 people. There are 33 different tribes in the hills of Manipur and the major tribes are the Poumai Naga, Tangkhul, Thadou, the Kabuis, Paite and Hmar. The major tribes in the district are the Poumai Naga, Mao, Maram, Liangmei, Kukis etc. About 42.3% of the total population in Senapati district is Poumai Naga, which is the single largest tribe in the district.

The Poumai Naga People: The Poumai Naga tribe is a major tribe and one of the oldest among Nagas. The word Poumai is derived from two syllables “POU” and “MAI”. “POU” was the progenitor of Poumai and “MAI” is the descendants of POU. In other words, POU is the name of the ancestor and his descendants are known as POUMAI. The literal meaning of POUMAI means “People of Pou”. The descendants of POU were MEO, LEO and PAO. The Poumai Naga tribe was recognized as a separate tribe by the Central Government of India under the Constitution of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled tribe Order (Amendment) Act 2002. The Poumai Naga is considered an important tribe in Manipur and Nagaland since times immemorial. Their Pottery and Poutai (Pou salt) production was well known to the entire tribal areas in Manipur and Nagaland since ancient times. The whole Poumai Naga community is divided into three units or circles for administrative convenience as – 1. Paomata Circle 2. Lepaona Circle 3. Chiliive Circle The Poumai Naga took the wave of migration from Makhel (dispersal site of Naga) in two directions-Northeast and South East direction. The descendant of Liio (Lepaona) took the southeast direction and settled at Koide village under the leadership of Chief Rokhuo. The descendants of Pao (Paomata) took the northeast direction and settled at Saranamai village after the four Chiefs were chosen to head the new settlement. The descendants of Prou (Chiliive) also went in the northeast direction and settled at Prouphii. However some believed that all the Poumai first migrated to Saranamai and then migrated to different circles or areas.

Socio-cultural Profile: Before the arrival of the British to the Naga Hills, the Poumai Nagas were not exposed to the outside world. Headhunting at this time was at its zenith, with lots of pride but hatred, fear and jealousy filled their hearts. Fishing, hunting and shifting cultivation were the main occupations in the pre- British period. The Poumai Naga had no caste system in terms of high or low, pure and untouchables, rich or poor.

Family: The Poumai Naga community believes in a patriarchal family system. In many of the Naga villages, large families ranging from to 6-8 members in a family are common. More members in the family at the time were considered a boon, since a large labour force was required to work in the paddy fields. The Poumai Naga community follows the patrialocal and monogamous family system. They have Nuclear families; with Joint families seldom found in the village.

Clan: A clan is generally a group of people who have one common ancestor. In every Poumai Naga village, there are some clans or khel as they are called, ranging from 2-6 khels. eg. Koide village has 6 Khels (Khii), Tungjoy has 3 Khels, Liyai Khullen has 4 Khels and Phaibung has 2 Khels. The size and number of Khels depends on the population size and presence of Khels from other villages.

Role of Clan Elders: The Poumai Naga follows a pure and direct democratic form of governance even in a small unit like the Clan. The elders of the Clan play an important role in keeping the community harmonious and peaceful within their own clan and with members of the other clans in the village. From each clan one or two representatives are selected to represent in the village council known as Kabora or Gaonbura (G.B). Community life: All the clans in the village are tied to each other by close bonds of community life. For instance, when a clan member falls sick during paddy transplantation or harvesting –it is commonly observed that the other people from the same clan or Khel come forward to help the sick in different ways.

Judicial Powers: The clan elders with their wisdom play an important role, settling disputes among their own clan members and with the other clans in the village. Any problem or clash between two clans is resolved by bringing it to the village Gaonburas (G.Bs) when they cannot settle it among themselves. The elders of the clan take on the responsibility of settling all kinds of disputes and work towards bringing in peace and prosperity for their clans.

Village: In antiquity, there were only two prominent Poumai village namely, Koide and Saranamai village but it has increased to 69 villages (Hill House Tax of 1999-2000). Some of the important characteristics of Poumai Naga villages show that every village is autonomous and self-sufficient in natural resources. Each village has a democratic system of governance. There is no caste system the system of landlordship is absent (Zamindari system). Beggars are unknown in the village as there is community land in every village for the benefit of the needy.

The Poumai Masou Me (Poumai Naga Union): The Poumai Masou Me (PMM) is the apex body and the largest social organization found in the Poumai Naga community. In addition to the PMM, there are a number of subordinate organizations that are actively involved in the over all development of Poumai community like:

i) Poumai Tsiidoumai Me, PTM (Poumai Students’ Organization)

ii) Poumai Naotoumai Me, PNM (Poumai Women Organization)

iii) Chiliive Naga Union, CNU (North Eastern Poumai Organization)

iv) Lepaona Naga Union, LNU (South Eastern Poumai Organization)

v) Paomata Council, PC (Western Poumai Organization)

vi) Razeba Public Organization, RPO (Northern Poumai Organization in Nagaland).

Apart from these general organizations, there are Christian missionary organizations for spiritual development namely, Poumai Naga Baptist Association (PNBA) and Poumai Catholic Mai Me, (PCM).

Village Gate: The Poumai Naga villages are in a compact settlement. Earlier there were village gates in all the villages but now we can see only the depilated ancient gate in most of the villages. The village gatekeepers opened the gates in the morning and evening for the villagers.

Feast of Merit: The Feast of Merit “Zhosouyu” is a special ceremony observed among all the Naga tribes. The culture of Feast of Merit still exists in the Poumai Naga community. A person who performs the Feast of Merit is highly recognized and honored in society. Elwin Verrier writes, “The Feast of Merit brings the donor an honor both now and after death and henceforth he has the privilege to wear the ceremonial cloth and ornaments, and decorate his house in a special way”. In the Poumai Naga community a person who can afford to perform the Feast of Merit is eligible to wear Zhosa (Shawl for those who performed Feast of Merit). Zhosousa or Zhosa is a cloth of honor to be worn only those who have performed the Feast of Merit. In Poumai village, Liyai Khullen hosted the latest Feast of Merit in January 2004.

Headhunting: In Poumai tribe, headhunting is known as Reipeihuyou. The last headhunting case was reported in 1958, in India among the Naga tribes. The reasons for headhunting are complicated yet interesting. The belief was that by taking the head from another village, a new injection of vital and creative energy would come to the aggressors’ village when he brings the head home. So whenever there was no good harvest in the village, the warriors went out to other villages to bring the heads. It is also their belief that if they killed the animals in hunting, their misfortune vanishes. To bring a good harvest to the village or to restore good fortune the warriors and hunters would continue to hunt the head of man and animals. Another important reason of Headhunting practice among the Poumai village was also to raise the social status of the village and since everybody wants to be recognized in society the warrior brings the head. Headhunting was also practiced to attain manhood and to win the heart of the fairest girl of the village in marriage. In Poumai Naga tribe, when a warrior brought the head to the village, the village chief performed religious rites at his residence.

Festivals: Nii (Festival) is one of the important social activities for human beings since time immemorial. Festival is a time to celebrate together with the loved ones from far and near. There are some important religious festivals of Poumai Naga and it involves some religious rites and rituals. However in recent yeasr, the Christians celebrate all kinds of festival without any traditional religious rites and ritual. Some of the important festivals of Poumai Naga tribe are Thounii, Laonii, Paonii, Rounii, Loukanii, Khiinii, Taithounii, Donii, Daonii, Duhnii etc. Most of the festivals are celebrated only in some villages except the Thounii, Laonii and Paonii and Donii, which are celebrated in all the Poumai villages or circles.

Religion: In Poumai Naga villages, the people who believe in their traditional religion are known as Yaosomai. The literary meaning of Yaosomai means those who drinks rice beer or those who follow the rites and rituals of the King. The Poumai Naga believes in the existence of one supreme God called Rahmai. The literary meaning of Rahmai means Supreme God, the designer and the creator who will judge the good and evils acts of man. He is the god of above everything, powerful and controls everything, including all the gods residing on earth or above. Rahmai is same as Allah in Muslims; Jehovah in Christian; Bhraman in Hindu etc. The Poumai Nagas believe in life after death. The religious rituals and sacrifices of the Yaosomai are quite interesting to note. They conduct various rituals and sacrifices to appease their gods at the individual level and at the village level as a whole. They make religious rituals and sacrifices in time of success or in adversities. Some of the omen examinations are done from grain of paddy (Kiithou), small piece of split bamboo, Lou (a kind of scented small plant), Miithou (embers), Legs and intestine of strangled chicken etc.

Marriage: Marriage is not a matter of ephemera; it is a lifetime matter. Marriage is sacred and one is supposed to abide by the marriage vows to the end of their last breath. In Poumai Naga community, monogamy is practiced. There is no child marriage and dowry system. There is not bride price system among the Poumai community. Intermarriage between the same clan or Khel is prohibited. Marriage with ones own sister and paternal cousins is restricted but marriage with the maternal cousin is accepted. Generally, engagement takes place in the months of July and August. The wedding ceremonies are held in the month of September. In antiquity, arranged marriages were common in the Poumai community. But in the present situation, love marriages are becoming more common. In ancient times, old women administered the marriage ceremonies. After 2-3 months of marriage, the couple is given a special lunch and dinner known as Kotouyou. Kotouyou is a kind of honeymoon for the couple. The bridegroom is introduced to all the bride’s relatives and a good rapport is developed. Kotouyou is held after the harvest i.e. in the month of December or January.

Divorce: Naotayou (divorce) is not common in Poumai Naga society. There is no Marriage Act for the Poumai Naga but the customary law is applied to all the divorced couples. According to the customary laws, if the husband divorces his wife, he is liable to give his movable property to his wife. If the wife divorces her husband, she loses everything, including all the gifts she received during her marriage. Birth: There are some religious rituals and ceremonies performed after the birth. During the birth, the husband and some elderly women assist in delivering the child. In antique there was no doctor or hospital and delivering child is depended on the experienced women who help in delivering the baby. The labor pain women are usually given some salty chicken soup in order to deliver the baby with good strength. The young boys a When the baby is born, either the mother or father cuts the umbilical cord with a sharp bamboo knife and buries it in the ground inside the bedroom. This custom of delivering a baby is still in practice in the village.

Soutouyou (Peace Treaty): One of the greatest changes brought to the Poumai tribe during the British administration in the hilly areas is pacifying the people against headhunting. The British coming to the Poumai areas had some significant socio-cultural impact. The inter-village and inter-tribe feuds in Poumai Naga tribe gradually ceased after British intervention in their headhunting. The British made Peace Treaty and brought reconciliation between the two headhunting villages.

Introduction of Christianity: Introduction of Christianity to the Poumai tribe is another very important event that brought changes in the socio-cultural and economic life of the Poumai Naga tribe. Many Poumai villagers accepted Christianity but the majority of the populations were non- Christians during the British period in the Naga Hills. A Christian missionary Rev. Pettigrew introduced Christianity in Manipur State in 1894. In Manipur Christianity was started from Ukhrul then spread to other Districts. The Tangkhul missionary introduced Christianity to the Mao Naga and then Mao Naga Missionaries brought Christianity to the Poumai Naga. M. Lorho first planted the seed of Gospel to Maiba and its neighboring villages.

Dress and Ornaments: The Naga tribes have different types of colorful shawls and clothing. The Poumai Naga tribe has different kinds of dresses and adornments for different purposes. The dresses and adornments, which are used at different festivals, are not used in casual wear. Before wool was imported in the Poumai villages, only Khailousa and Dolousa (made from wild jute) was mainly used for dresses. Khekaisa: It is a dignitary shawl to be worn by the elected public leaders to be worn by the elected public representatives (MP/MLA/MDC), Gazetted officers, Ordained Ministers (Reverend) and social activists. The dignitary shawl for ladies is known as Loukaisa. Zhosousa: Zhosa (feast of merit performer shawl), Riidusa or Nghasa (white with large stitch), and Khaopeiteisa or Khaopeidasa (embroidered elephant head in black cloth) etc are entitled to be worn by only those who have performed the feast of merit. Community Shawl: All the sections of Poumai community use the Sousa or Teisa (Rainbow color stripe). Hairstyle: Generally the women’s head were shaved or kept short before marriage. But they after they get married they do not cut or shave their hair and the long hair are rolled into a bun and suspended on the nape or plaited. It was easy to distinguish between unmarried and married women earlier from their hair.

Music and Dance: The identity of a tribe also shows through their unique traditional music and dances. There are different types of Poumai Naga folksongs like Patriotic folksongs, Poetic folksongs, Romantic folksongs, Rice men folksongs and Feast of Merit folksongs. Most of the folksongs are composed playing Lana and Chii. The main musical instruments are: i) Lana (a long string with a stick attached to half gourd shell) or (single stringed Bango) ii) Chii (mouth organ) made of small split bamboo iii) Nghakai (a mouth organ made of buffalo horn) kind of bugle iv) Shah and Be (mouth organ made of hollow small plant) v) Mouth organ made of bamboo with four holes

Food Habit: Food habits depend on geographical location, personal likes of different races and religious beliefs. The same geographical location and races can have different food habits due to certain taboos and personal likes. The Poumai’s food is less spicy. No spices or very little spices are used in their food. Generally the foods are braised with some spices without frying with oil. There are no vegetarians in Poumai villages. They have three heavy meals in a day.

Dormitory System: Kheloukizii (Dormitory or Morung) was found in all the Naga villages. In the earlier times the Naga young men and women slept in groups in their dormitory. Many social activities were carried out in the dormitories. In Naga society, the dormitory was a big house where the young men and women slept in groups in different dormitories and trained in different fields before their marriage. It was partly a training centre and partly a Clubhouse for entertainment. There were separate dormitories for boys and girls. In Naga villages, different tribes have different names for dormitory. The Poumai Naga call a dormitory a Kheloukizii or Reipeiki.

Khekizii: Khekizii is one of the important social institutions. When a boy attains adolescence he goes to sleep in Khekizii with other friends. It was prevalent during the headhunting days and strict discipline was taught and they were trained in different fields in Khekizii.

Loukizii: In girls’ dormitory (Loukizii), the young girls slept together in groups. Loukizii is another important social institution for the village girls. The girls go to their own Loukizii to sleep when they attained adolescence till they get married.

Inheritance: In Poumai Naga community, father has the sole authority to decide about the distribution of property for their children as per their tradition. All the ancestral and acquired properties are shared with all the sons. The sons inherit the immovable property according to the customary law. The daughters inherit the movable property; however according to the wishes of the parents. According to the Poumai customary law, the eldest son gets the lion-share. Daughters are excluded from inheritance of their father’s immovable property. In rare cases, some of the families give the immovable properties (paddy field) to their daughters.

Signs and Symbols: Different communities have different cultural, sign symbols, etiquettes, gestures etc. Non-verbal communication is communicated with gestures, signs and symbols. In earlier times, the Poumai Naga tribe never sent any message to the other villages through writing for Peace Treaty, Surrender, Friendship etc. but different articles were used as a signs or symbols to convey them. 1. Sounii or Sousha peiyou (Giving a piece of Meat), It is customary for the Poumai to give Sousha during the Laonii and Paoyi festival to their younger sisters, who are married in other villages. It is a sign and symbol of blessing and remembrance. 2.Poudziiziiyi (Twisted knot on the grass),3.Poudziihisiithouyi (A stick pierced into twisted knot on the grass), 4.Poudziikaonaiyi (A slant knot on the grass),5. Siiberaikho (Rope tied to a tree), if a tree is found tied with a rope, it symbolizes the tree is reserved by other people.6. Pouhuduhi kakouyou (A small long grass across on the way), A small long grass across on the way symbolizes something may be there ahead of you on the way.7.Kikhusiini tyayi (Door closed with stick across),8. Chuhthouyi alia Siishoh (placing stones and planting trees),9.Sahpeiyou (Giving shawl),10.Nghoupeiyi (Giving of spear),11. Zhaiseiveiyu (sending blood),12.Soushi Ho (Sending Chilly powder), 13.Meivipeiyu (giving charcoal),14.Maipeisiseiyu (sending human hair),15.Bahzii siiyi (to show your fist), 16.Khaoto sei you (Piece of rice taken out from the plate), 17.Lou Ki khaiyou (placing a small smelly medicinal plant at the front door), 18.Siibo Rohmii hi khaiyou (a bunch of plants placed at the village gate): It symbolizes that no visitor is allowed to enter the village. And anybody found violating the customary law can be fined or punished.

Games and Sports: Different traditional games and sports are held in Poumai Naga villages during the important festivals. Different games are played in different seasons and at different festivals. Some of the important games which are commonly played in the Poumai villages are, wrestling, High jump, Shot put, Long jump, Carrying a big stone, Kaka, Kabbaddi, Climbing on bamboo pole, Deidei, Louka, Bow and Arrow, Tug-of –war, catapult, Hawk and hen chick etc.

Spreading of Christianity: Christianity first came to Poumai the villages in 1934. The traditional headhunting ceased and Christianity spread rapidly in Poumai villages during the British Period. It was Christianity and the coming of the British who awakened the hearts of the Poumai Nagas and exposed them to new social mores and environments. Besides modern education, contacts with other people, improvement in infrastructure etc has in no small way helped to change the social and cultural life of the people. The coming of Christianity had brought some changes in Headhunting, Feast of Merit, Dormitory system, Marriage and Divorce, Birth and Death, Food habits, Dressing and Clothing, Hairstyles, Music and instruments, Housing Structure, Change in Family relationship, Traditional Festivals, etc.

Modern Education: Education in Poumai villages commenced very late as compared to the neighboring tribes like the Tangkhul and Mao in Manipur. However, modern education spread so swiftly to many Poumai villages and brought in tremendous changes in their primitive way of life. The first mission primary school was established in Poumai village in 1944 at Phuba village. The Catholic Christians established some schools in Poumai villages.

Conclusion: Some of the changes were brought to the Poumai community during the British period. The people could freely move to other village after headhunting ceased. Better relationship was fostered with all the Poumai villages through the Peace Treaty known as Soutouyou and reconciliation made between the rival villages. The other significant change which occurred during the British Period was the introduction of the Christian religion this altered forever the fundamental animistic beliefs of the Poumai people. The Christian Missionaries taught the people to love and help one another, which was a boost to stop further headhunting in Poumai villages. In the later years, the introduction of modern education, contact with other people and other infrastructures available in the region has brought lots of changes in Poumai Naga society.

Copyright© Dr. R.B. Thohe Pou 2009