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Juri Baruah
Date of Publish: 2016-05-24

Looking Nagaland from Ting Ya Naga village


In a cold morning of January you are standing in front of the Morong ghar and listening to the story of ‘Dalimi’. Dalimi fell in love with Godapani, an Ahom prince, during his exile in the Naga hill. Dalimi, also known as Watlong, accompanied Godapani at the time when he returned to his kingdom. She fell sick during this journey and died in the place which is known as Naganimora, present sub-division of Mon district. The oral history of the villagers reflects that the people who came with her did not go back to their original place. They stayed in the place Cheng-phan, present day Sripur. Then they shifted to the bank of Hatigharia Bill. Finally the Gosain of Moiramora Satra converted them to Neo-Vaisnavaite religion and settled them in this village. Yes, you are now in Ting Ya village dominated by the Konyak Naga tribe. The village is also known as Naga Gaon Model village which was established in 1775.

In the city when we are discussing about the constant border conflict between Assam and Nagaland; interpreting the situations only from the point of the centre without confronting the construction of new political landscape ; the significant question arise here is- is there any ‘place making strateg' 1 that contested to the ‘mainstream’ social and political forces? Feeling Nagaland from the frontier to national landscape, it is quite interesting to note down some significant metaphors negotiating the border in terms of Ting Ya  Naga village.

When we used to talk about a geographical location, including frontier or border, we refer to its location. So, the naming of a location is also depends on how we interpret that location. It is a kind of relationship perceived as a centre from where such directional viewing takes place. This directional view not only includes the geographical positioning but also cultural as well as political attitudes. So, when we are talking about North East India, it is not merely a geographical expression. It is a frontier of a country with not so friendly neighbours along with its borders. As the frontier is fragmented from the viewpoint of the political centre there is always a force of coercion to find a different identity for the region like the metaphoric representation of ‘Seven Sisters’. From this perspective the questions like ‘are you an Assamese or an Indian?’; ‘are you a Naga or An Assamese?’ confronted the ‘cosmetic federal regional order' 2

Why the village is important?

Place consists of socially constructed world that are simultaneously material and representational. It is the general idea people have of where things should be in physical and cultural relations to each other. From that point of view the interpretation of a place is the conceptualisation of the imagined physical relationships which give meaning to society. Following the material and the spatial dimension of place we can understand the imagination of the Naga village towards Nagaland is on the basis of border. Meanwhile, it carries the nature of ‘spatiality’. The transformed and socially contested spatiality of the Naga villages in this sense socializes and acquire both physical and psychological sense of the locality.

Language plays here an important role. Language in the form of symbols and signs dominated the power and ideology of the particular localities. In their imagination Nagaland is a different state but this difference is not because of the sentiments; the hill-plain differentiation creates here interstate debate which is political.

The actual and spatial practices connect the village to the immediate material experience and realization. Indeed the experience with other communities, events like performing Bhaona and inter caste marriage as well as political choices like casting votes or favouring a particular party the users directly perform an insider perspective role.

No doubt the border conflict spread the fear towards using places in frontier areas.Nationalism as a kind of imagination also makes these places as fragmented in nature. The state basically epitomises the belief in the homology between culture, identity, territory and nation. The homology is here a structure of power. Boundary making or breaking within and between states is a political exercise in the form of support or oppose that structure. Power rests on the everyday social practices in the form of concrete relation in between the governing and the governed. From that perspective border is not only related to changing law but feeling the landscapes. These relations are not only social but in reality they explicitly dominated the political. With the socio cultural transformation the people of the village hold cross cultural characteristics. Locally they feel the indigenous nature of Naga in the sphere of Assamese. This is a symbol of peace and harmony for both the state. In the mean time it is also a strategy to visualize new landscapes not only from the discourse of nationalism but also from the ethnic ties that creates the mosaic of culture beyond state-centrism.

Photo and Text : Juri Baruah

( Juri Baruah is a Research Scholar ofTata Institute of Social Sciences, Guwahati. She can be reached at juribaruah33@gmail.com)


 1. Derived from Amy Muehlebach (2001)

  2.Sanjib Barua, Durable Disorder, p. 37


van Schendal Willem. (2002). Geographies of Knowing, Geographies of Ignorance. Environment and Panning D: Society and Space, 20, 647-668

Agnew J. (1999). Regions on the mind does not equal regions of the mind. Progress in Human Geography, 23, 91-96

Barua S. (2005). Durable Disorder. Oxford University Press

Barua S. (2001).India against Itself. Oxford University Press







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