The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript notes on the Zemi Nagas by Ursula Graham Bower

caption: Nsing-ngi genna: performed in November for very young children
caption: gennas
medium: notes
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
date: 1939-1946
refnum: Betts papers, ring binder 1
person: Centre for South Asian Studies, Cambridge
text: Nsing-ngi (November)
text: The day before the genna begins every father of young children (the ceremony is not performed for children over three or four years old) goes into the jungle and fetches two new bamboo chungas and some of the leaves called hegoa-gum. There are several kinds and large ones are preferred. All the men leave the village together and must return together, and if anyone is delayed the others must wait for him. Both in going and returning the father of a boy must lead and another bring up the rear.
text: The leaves must be carefully chosen. Those growing singly are not taken, as this might cause only one child in a family. Leaves growing in bunches of several together are chosen, and those picked must be clean and fresh and free from bird-droppings or spiders' webs. Any which are torn in falling to the ground are discarded, and in any case only the right-hand side of the leaf is taken, the left side and the stalk being thrown away. Only one or two leaves are taken back for the ceremony, but the men may carry in a load of plantain leaves for cups, etc., if they like. A man who is unable to go himself may ask another to fetch leaves for him, but a man fetching leaves for his own son may only bring others for another boy and on no account for a girl, and vice versa.
text: When the men return the leaves are put carefully aside till the morning. That evening the child's hair is cut by the father or any obliging male, and the clippings thrown away in the village street or anywhere else.