The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript notes on the Zemi Nagas by Ursula Graham Bower

caption: Le-hera genna: a sickness genna for removing evil spirits from the village
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: 2nd day: Hera-gwoa-le (Scaring away the spirits).
text: The young men make panjis of kemeotsing and stick each through a piece of hega-zing. All the old men go up above the village with the dog and panjis, and stick the panjis in the path, closing it. They return down the village with the remaining panjis and the dog, ho-hoing and shouting as they go and throwing hega-zing in all directions to scare away the spirits. The people in the houses do the same, throwing hega-zing under the beds, on top of trays and shelves, and so on, driving any spirits there may be towards the door, where they will meet with the advancing elders and be driven out at the bottom of the village. The old men go on down the path outside the village for a little way, and there stop. They kill the dog, cutting its throat with a dao and putting its head on a stake of kemeo-tsing. They then close the path with the panjis. The tingkhupeo, and his assistant then take zao kasang in a leaf cup, and the tingkhupeo, saying something to this effect: "We are performing the ceremony of throwing out the spirits. All those in the village, men, women and children, will be well, they will not be ill, they will not die", offers ginger and zao kasang in the customary fashion. The old men may then break their fast, and they light a fire and cook and eat the dog by the side of the path, washing it down with zu brought from the village. They sit there eating and gossiping as long as they like - generally well into the afternoon.
text: On this day the village is most strictly closed, any strangers being turned out first thing in the morning and no one allowed in under any pretext whatever. If the day is sunny, the omen is good; if rain falls, there may be illness in the coming year.
text: (It is related that a village of Zemi once decided to see if spirits really were driven out of the village by the showers of "wormwood", etc. so formed a line across the street with spears and shields. One man was knocked down by the spirits as a sign, so they decided it was effective, the hunks of root thrown at this time wounding any spirits they hit, "like spears". Wounded spirits can be heard groaning in the jungle at this time it is said. Villagers do not stray far from home that day, for fear of meeting them.)