The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

typescript 'Journey to Nagaland', by Mildred Archer. An account of six months spent in the Naga Hills in 1947

caption: Assam Rifles celebration of Durga festival at Mokokchung
medium: diaries
location: Mokokchung
date: 27.10.1947
person: Archer/ Mildred
date: 9.7.1947-4.12.1947
text: 27 October. Mokokchung.
text: Tonight the Assam Rifles outpost celebrated the Durga festival with a small variety show. The sepoys had fixed up a little stage with a drop curtain on which an unattractive Durga solemnly rode a fat and languid tiger. Plump comfortable Gurkha wives and little Gurkha children with their attractive flat faces sat to one side, while Nagas crowded in behind the sepoys. Cigarettes and pan were passed round and we were given large mugs of potent rum. The show went with a swing. There were gymnastic turns; P.T, somersaults and cart wheels. There were short sketches interspersed with Gurkha songs and dances accompanied by drums and a harmonium. In a favourite dance the performers dressed as women crouched down with one (118) knee bent like Russian dancers. They chinked their ankle bells to the rhythm, gradually rising up and finishing the dance with a pirouetting swirl. A 'clown' entered between each turn, sometimes with a hobby horse, sometimes dressed as a Sadhu, but more often as a Naga man or woman. There was a comic imitation of a Naga war dance and the Naga audience took it all in very good part.
text: As we returned the moon was whitening the great hills as though snow had fallen. The trees shone like silver birches and round the moon was a pink and blue halo. This is the Kartik moon, the loveliest of the Indian year. By its light the milkmaids moved in the circular dance and the flute of Krishna 'thrilled the bodies of a thousand girls.'