The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - extracts on the Nagas from 'Census of India, 1931 - Volume III - Assam Report'

caption: Appendix B. (1). The Western Rengma Nagas
caption: religion; myths about planets, storms and eclipses
medium: reports
ethnicgroup: Rengma <Western
person: Mullan/ C.S.Mills/ J.P.
date: 1931
text: 11. It is very vaguely believed that the sun is male and the moon female. Both were once equally hot, but God (Songinyu) saw that men were troubled because they had no means of telling night from day and planted a ficus tree (urembi), and a plant with long leaves (alaphatung) on the moon. These shade it and are the marks we see on the moon now. Orion's Belt resembles men trying to attack a village. The belt itself is 'Terison kenyenyu' (the sentries) and the dagger 'Byenyu' (the strangers, ie. attackers). The Pleiades are called 'Shenyu Pempi Kepenyu' (the star of the pounding table carriers). They are believed to be seven, but most people can only see six. Any one who can see seven will be very happy in his married life. A pair of stars (Castor and Pollux?) is called 'Letung' (girl's stick) and represents a young man cutting a stick for his mistress. Venus, both as morning and an evening star, is called 'Shepfu' and is believed to influence the crops. There is a separate name for each fork of the Milky Way. The big fork is called 'Zule' (the Diyung river), and the small fork 'Serizu' (the Tulo stream in the Sema country). They had a quarrel over the killing of a mithun and parted. Shooting stars are merely falling stars.
text: An earthquake occurs when the sky has connection with his wife the earth.
text: Neolithic stone adzes are called 'tsamphara duding' (axes fallen from the sky). They are believed to come down with lightning. It is lucky to find one and the finder keeps it for a charm. They are hurled down by the god (songingu) on any tree which he claims and wishes to fell. Thunder is the voice of god and in whatever direction it is heard most of the crops will be best. The rainbow is the breath of a spirit. It rises from damp, haunted spots. If you point your finger at it you will get ill.
text: An eclipse of the moon happens when a tiger tries to eat it. The sun is eclipsed when a great man dies.