Guest post by Josiah Luithui.
Christianity came to Nagalim about 100 years ago, and now 99% of the population in Nagalim is Christian. Then, we can be sure about this – Christmas is the most awaited and important festival of Nagalim.
It is the festival of joy and merry-making; a joy for the birth of baby Jesu and a merry-making of this joy. It is a season of rest and fellowship and gathering; a season when dear and near ones comes home from afar to be with their parents and family at home. It is the most precious festival for the Nagas.
In this festive season farmers take complete rest from farm works; students comes home from their schools/colleges/seminaries, and villages are once again full of merry-making voice and gathering. So, for the tribal Nagas who mostly dwells in villages, Christmas is the most wonderful and beautiful festival and time God has made for His people.
Let me tell you about how Christmas is celebrated in Nagalim.
Usually, the celebration stresses for 4-5 days, i.e., starting from 24th December mid-night program (this is to welcome the birth of baby Jesus at mid-night) and the celebration goes till the 28th night. People gather in a place, usually the village football playground.
At night, since the weather is cold, people gather seating around the fire.
At 24th, mid-night, the whole gathering crowd goes for Christmas Carol, and at 1 am they will move out from the place where they are gathered. They are led by the village Torch bearer, followed by the Church choir master with his choir, and followed by the crowed. They will sing the Hymn songs and go door-to-door collecting the carol gifts. All these gifts they collected are done for auction in the Church after Christmas, and the fund is for the Church.
During day time, people gather from 10 am- 4 pm, they play different games and are rewarded with prizes- pen, cup, plate, exercise books, utensils etc. The games are usually played categorically, i.e., children, adult and old folks; also men and women.
Common games played are: race, volleyball and football. Nagas, both men and women, are football lovers. The program begins and ends with prayer; before the departure of the day, a very special kind of “delicious sweet” is distributed to the crowed, one piece each- called “Genikur,” which is made of sugar-cane juice- an apple size.
At night, people gather around the fire and there is competition: song, dance and drama, fashion show etc. The winners are rewards with prizes. The night program is from 7 pm- 10 pm. The program begins and ends with prayer and the delicious “Genikur.”
The most delicious and choice food for Christmas is “Pork.” Poor people buy 2/3 kgs for the festival; but this does not stop them from the joy of receiving baby Jesus. And, especially for children, Christmas is the time when they buy new: toy guns, barbies, and dress.
This is the time the parents spend their saving for children’s clothing.
To sum up, for the Nagas, Christmas is the one all-in-all celebration; a celebration of joy and merry-making, singing “joy to the world, the Savior Jesus is born.” Amen.
Josiah is a student of theology.
Servant of the living Lord Jesus Christ.
To learn more about Nagalim,
you can connect with Josiah @ the Facebook page Council of Nagalim Churches