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Ketholeno Neihu
Date of Publish: 2017-08-08



Much of what we now know about Naga traditional history has been orally narrated by elderly men and women in villages who followed pagan religion. Such nature of stories are borne from beliefs, observation and practices. It also has a tinge of both affinity and myths which is but a significant whole of the fading tradition of the Nagas.

Zhakuolie Kuotsii ( 75) from Phesama village, narrated a fable of how the dog found his master and why men till today kept the dog as a faithful follower.

Once a dog went out to seek for the most powerful creature in the jungle so he would follow him as the master. As he went about, he met a wild boar. He went on to ask, “Hey, Are you the most powerful in the jungle.” “Yes,” replied the wild boar. “Be my master and we shall continue the journey together,” the dog said and the duo went ahead. On the way, they met a tiger. When the dog saw the tiger, he began to bark, woo…. Woow… Frightened, the wild boar stopped the dog saying, “Do not bark or we shall be eaten by the tiger.” Then the dog left discouraged, left the wild boar and went to the tiger to ask the same and they went about journeying together. On the way both met a human and the dog barked. Doing so, the tiger stopped the dog saying, “Do not bark or the man shall kill both of us.” At the sight of the tiger’s meekness, he went to the man and asked the same. As time passed, they journeyed and the dog barked at the sound of a spirit. Then the human reacted to the dog’s awareness saying, “Go… attack, Go… attack.” This time the dog learnt that human was the most powerful creature in the world and thereafter lived with men the whole of his life.

As time passed, our forefathers began to domesticate dogs at home. These domesticated dogs served both as guards and for its consumption because its medicinal properties and has become a food habit of many people in Nagaland. As wrestling is a game of young and healthy men its consumption is believed to give strength and energy to the bones and muscles. It is also served to sick people for treating ailment. The art of naming their dogs was also very significant in the past. The owner named the dog by its fur, shape, colour or any peculiarity of the dog. For instance, a dog with a patch on its body was named according to it.

In Nagaland as it is till today, all dogs are domesticated and is very rare to see dogs strayed in the vicinity of the villages and towns. This culture of consuming dog meat has also faced stiff objections which has irked people consuming dog meat and the Nagas in general. Petitioners in the recent past has not only served legal notice against the Nagaland government to ban the “illegal sale” of dog meat in the state which they opine it as “smuggled from Assam and Meghalaya.” This very accusation also goes on to describe it as an act of cruelty to animal for its “slaughter and consume” process.

As from the experience of many Nagas visiting other states, it is a disgust to see hundreds of stray dogs left in unhygienic unhealthy condition and this indeed is an act of cruelty to animal. Smuggling of stray dogs and its sale in small local bazaars is veritably seen but 80% of dog meat consumed are those that are reared at home. In relation with this, the smuggling of alcohol into Nagaland in spite of its status as a dry state since 1989 has become rampant. This has never been questioned by any person from other states saying it is outrageous act. Illegal sale has to be countered upon but with equal concern. As for many Nagas, many have confronted the issue saying that it is an encroachment to culture and food habit of the people.

Ketholeno Neihu

( Ketholeno Neihu is a student of M.A. ( Third Semester) at the Centre for Studies in Journalism and Mass Communication, Dibrugarh University. )

Illustrations used in this article have been done by Vilazoto Lerina




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