The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

miscellaneous papers, notebooks and letters on Nagas by Ursula Graham Bower, 1937-1947

caption: Halei-na genna
caption: second day. Halei-na
medium: notes
ethnicgroup: Zemi
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
date: 1937-1946
person: private collection
text: 2nd day. Halei-na.
text: The village is strictly closed. Everyone rises fasting. The old man of the house, or if there is none, one called for the purpose, pours zao kasang by the hearth from a leaf cup and says: "Now we are performing Halei-na." He then addresses the ancestors: "Formerly you poured zu in the morning like this. I also am pouring like this. When you poured like this, your rice was good. Like yours, my rice will be good. We have as yet eaten nothing, and I am giving to you first." After this all may eat and drink and smoke.
text: Early in the morning young men are sent by the tingkhupeo or some other elder to close the paths and gates will leaves. The day is given up to drinking and feasting, and the village kills a pig, or a mithan if they can afford it.
text: The bucks and boys have a feast in the dekachangs on zu, meat and vegetables from their houses. Even the very poor manage to provide something for their sons. The food and zu is brought to the dekachang by the young men's mothers. The food is set out on the sleeping-benches and the zu is collected in one place. The tingkhupeo and the other old men of the village are called, and a little from each parcel of food is put into a leaf for each old man; their cups are fetched, and they are each given a leaf of the best zu. This done, the dekachang may start its feast. The food and some more zu is taken to the old men's houses, and the old men themselves go to the other dekachang, where the ceremony is repeated. No rice is eaten at this feast.
text: The pig (or a mithan in a rich village) is killed by the tingkhupeo at the hazoa in the path below the village or wherever is customary. (Impoi killed a pig at the hazoa, Laisong a mithan in the village path.) The pig is killed by transfixion with a sharpened bamboo, and as it is killed water is poured on it. The pig is taken to the dekachang which caught it, and there cut up, and the meat distributed among the houses. (The two Impoi dekachangs both caught the pig together. Namkia ruled it a dead heat, but sent the pig to the lower dekachang to be cut up. Such an occurrence would be a fine start for an inter-dekachang fight.) The legbones are given to the old men, and the head is cooked in the dekachang malik's house, and the headmen, tingkhupeo and elders are feasted there. The rest of the day is devoted to feasting.