Having forbidden our ailing Australian anything but plain rice for dinner, we generously allowed her to eat a boiled egg and dry toast for breakfast. It was quite the task stopping her eating unsuitable things while she was still recovering from the gastric infection, involving many resounding choruses of ‘NO! NO! NO!’ from the rest of the group at mealtimes and on the bus. She did thank us in the end, after she’d recovered.
After breakfast we left for the village of Jakhama, belonging to people of the Angami tribe. (The population of Nagaland is comprised of 16 major tribes with individual cultures.) Jakhama was all tiny, footpaths winding up and down the hillside, full of flowers and beautifully stacked firewood.
It’s a very well-preserved village with traditional old buildings. This is because during WW2 the village co-operated with the Japanese troops and was therefore spared. Villages that refused to give aid were destroyed. Both British and Japanese forces used the villages and took advantage of existing antagonisms between communities.
Each village has a communal building called a morung, like a village hall, in which, traditionally, the boys all sleep once they are over the age of about seven. The morung, the village gates, and the houses are decorated with images of the mithun – an animal very like a bull – mostly in a very stylised form, or in some instances with actual skulls.
The village made much use of rescued and recycled materials, creating so many walls of marvellous texture and pattern that we went a bit wall-crazy:
One of us was, unsurprisingly, concentrating on what had been painted on the walls.
There were huge churches around the village, all with signs indicating their denomination, and suggesting a rather ‘People’s Front of Judea’ situation. We saw huge, man-sized baskets for storing rice, pet monkeys, beautiful dogs, colourful cockerels and many baby chicks, a few cats, happy children, and lots of graves. The graves were everywhere, in people’s back yards, in the walls, in the street, and new houses are built with basement burial chambers and holes in the walls ready to received bodies. Everyone greeted us with great friendliness, including the drunken man we encountered. It’s a dry state and the villages are dry, but #1 guide observed that it’s the part of India in which he has seen the most drunks.
The children were in their church-going finery, it being Good Friday.