The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book : Return to the Naked Nagas (1939;1976)

caption: Chapter Five. Heathens and Baptists
caption: attack on community spirit by individualistic Christians
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Ao
location: Chantongia
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: ln Christian villages the rich, free of traditional obligations towards their neighbours and forbidden to perform Feasts of (48) Merit, tend to hoard their rice or to sell it to the highest bidder. With the community spirit broken, individualism begins to assert itself, and the Western idea of pride in the possession of goods, fostered probably quite unconsciously by the missionaries, replaces the Ao's traditional pride in the lavish expenditure of his wealth. The mission objects to the Feasts of Merit presumably because the animals consumed in their course are not just slaughtered but sacrificed with appropriate invocations of the spirits. Yet one would think that with a little trouble an institution of an essentially social and economic character could have been remodelled so as to be compatible with Christian tenets. Were such adjustments impossible, Europe would have long lost all its folk festivals and the Christmas tree would long ago have been condemned as a pagan symbol.