Nagaland is almost entirely inhabited by the Naga tribes except some Kukis, Kacharis, Garos, Mikris, Banglalees, and Assamese etc. in the plains sector. There are several views expressed by scholars regarding the origin of the word Naga. Some believe that the word Naga has evolved from the Sanskrit word Nagna which means naked. It is so because the Nagas are proverbially known by the paucity of their clothes. Another view is that the word Naga originated from Naga meaning Snake or king of snakes. Mythlogically, princess Ulupi was a Naga Kanya, that is daughter of the king of snakes. Ulupi’s residence is generally identified in the south-west of Nagaland. Since this area was under the Naga raj, the people are known as Naga.
The People, Social and Cultural Heritage
The Nagas are not a composite people. They speak many languages. There differ widely in dress and other cultural traits, as well as in physical features. They belong to Mongoloid stock but yet there are great differences in the details between one tribe and other, as well as between different people of the same tribe. Some are tall some are short Some are yellow in complexion and some are even brow .the cultural traditions of the Nagas include features which are common to all the tribes like head hunting,common sleeping house for unmarried men which are taboo to women a sort or trial marriage ,of great freedom of intercourse between the sexes before marriage ,disposal of dead on raised platforms,the simple loom for weaving cloth etc.
There is no caste system among the Nagas or anyone of the non-Naga tribes. But each of the Naga tribes is divided into several or as many as twenty clans. Clans are mainly based on forefathers or such other things by which one group of people is differentiated from others. The bigger the tribe, the more is the number of clans. of late, there has arisen a kind of Gotro of family lineage among almost all the tribes. This has grown out of an important man of that family whose name is used by his progeny as the surname. This has got nothing to do with clan system, but in course of time, such family name may become a clan name. Generally, marriage in the same clan is prohibited but nowadays modern educated young men and women are often violating it.
Rengma Ngada festivals. In the last month the Ziling Nga-Ngai, festival is celebrated with all the pomp and shows this marks the completion of a year and the beginning of the next year.
Places of Interest
Shrouded in mystery, greatly awe inspiring till recent times, the territory of Nagaland finds mention in the recent Sanskrit scriptures, wherein it is hailed as ‘Nag Bhumi’ – land of serpents. Due to the extremity of its location, the inhospitable terrain, coupled with profusion of wildlife and vegetation, Nagaland remained for long, almost a virgin territory – where few mortals from the outside world dared to tread. But not so anymore. With the growing awareness and interest in travel and tourism, the thirsty travelers relentlessly search for new destinations. Consequently, Nagaland is fast emerging as a tourist destination in its own right. Nagaland abounds in serene natural beauty and panoramic view of the hills which infact are the eastern offshoots of mighty Himalayas.
Four districts of Nagaland have been recently opened up for international visitors. Theare Kohima, Dimapur, Wokha and Mokochung. Kohima is the state capital situated at the height of 1495 meters above sea level. It is an enchanting hill station presenting wide panoramic views. The was cemetery is a symbolic memorial raised in honour of the officers and soldiers who sacrificed their lives during World War II. The epitaphs are moving. There are few mountains and peaks in Nagaland, which are worth seeing. The Japfu peak situated at a height of 3048 mts. above sea level is the second highest peak in Nagaland after Mt. Saramati. Watching sun rise from this peak is memorable. Mt. Tempu is another peak worth visiting. It is at a height of 3000mts. From this peak, you can have an eye view of the Dzukou Valley. The Dzukoo Valley is at a height of 2433 mts. above sea level. It is a favorite haunt of young trekkers and meditation groups. There are few villages, which can be of interest. The Khonoma village is known for its valour, as its residents had fought a pitch battle against the Britishers who came on an expedition to the Naga hills in Oct. 1879. Another important village is the Shangnyu village, ruled by the chieftain Angh. It is popular for the wooden monument located in this village, which is believed to have been constructed by divine angles. Another place,which can be of interest, is Impur. At this place, the early American Baptist Missionaries set up a mission center. It is 18 km from Mokokchung and a pilgrimage center is proposed to be set up here.