The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book - 'Naga Path', by Ursula Graham Bower, published John Murray 1950

caption: Chapter eleven. The Affair of Degalang
caption: taboo on marriage during harvest; marriage postponed by elders
medium: books
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: At any other season of the year they would have won; their 'fait accompli' would have been acknowledged. But it was the middle of harvest. There was a strict taboo on marriage, as there was, indeed, on everything which magically or actually might interfere with the all-important work. Their sudden act, their violent breach of custom, jeopardized the whole of Laisong's crops. In the utmost agitation a party of headmen and elders went off next day to insist that she return, at least till the harvest was over.
text: There was an all-day meeting at Impoi at which priests, headmen and relatives argued themselves husky over the merits and implications of the case. But the vital harvest won. She was, at the end of the meeting, persuaded to come back, on the clear and definite promise that she should marry Degalang in the spring, when the New Year feast of Hgangi was over and the wedding season began. As soon as she reached the house again, Rangalang announced that never, so long as he lived, should Degalang have her; but nobody took much notice. The promise was given, if not by Rangalang, at least by the village elders, and considering his loss of face, some such salving statement was only to be expected. The harvest took up our attention, and everyone forgot about Degalang until the following spring.