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: 9th Day: Tria-da-na
text: Early in the morning the tingkhupeo and the men who cut the bamboos go to the path below the village. The bamboos are cut in half length-ways. The tingkhupeo-katseipeo and another old man take half a bamboo in each hand and stand between them, facing each other, pressing the bamboos against their bodies. The tingkhupeo takes hold of the bamboos in the middle and says: "We do not know you, you are the truth-tellers. Will strangers come to the village today? If so, then fight together; if not, go apart". The answer is given by the behaviour of the bamboos. Several other questions are asked - will the village get a good crop, will they kill a tiger, will it be good to jhum in a certain direction, and so on. Sometimes the bamboos are asked to go apart for 'yes' and to fight together for 'no', but if the bamboos do nothing at all and remain inert, the answer is taken to be 'no'. The answers are checked by the arrival or non-arrival of strangers in the village. Each question is asked twice.
text: When it is all finished, the party hack the bamboos to pieces an go back to the village. They fetch cooked rice from their houses and meat, vegetables and zu from the dekachang and break their fast. They may on no account eat meat or vegetables from their own houses. The others have already started eating with their families, and after this meal those who went to take the omens may do so too.