Khiamniungan Cultural Troupe
Khiamniungan is a major tribe among many other Naga major tribes found in Nagaland, India. These people were considered great Warriors before the advent of the Christianity in Nagaland at the time of headhunting Practices. Moreover, these people are also called 'Water People'. In order to understand the real meaning of Khiamniungan, it would be desirable to split/asunder these three syllables which have its own different specific meanings for further explicit interpretations. The word 'Khiam' denotes Water, 'Niu'-Great, and 'ngan'- Source. Similarly, the alternatives names of this tribe are "Aoshedd, Kalyo-Kengnyu, Khiamngan, Khiamniungan, Nokaw, Tukhemmi, Welam." Also in Myanmar: Makware, Nokaw, Para, Tukhemmi, Welam.
Territory and Demographic
The geographical location of these people lies in the easternmost corner of Nagaland and can see some of the villages living alongside the international border of Myanmar and India. The area of Khiamniungan in India covers 914.60 sq km whereas the area covered in Myanmar is about four times more.
Today, Majorities of the Khiamniungans are living in Myanmar (Burma) with the estimation of 132 villages as compared to 29 villages in India. The population of the Khiamniungans in India according to 1991 census is about 25,677 and according to 2001 census, its population raised to 37,800.
Origin of the Khiamniungans
The Origin of this community is the folktale that has been originally passed on verbally through manifold generations (estimated 1500 years) which deeply rooted and belief the Origin of their ancestors from the place called 'Khiamniunga' meaning the 'Source Of Water' located Between Panso Hq and Noklak district near Tsuwao village. After they settled at this place for centuries, a group of people moved towards the west to the place called Lumoking and later, to Pathso village. However, with the rise of its population, they gradually spread especially towards the east, setting up many villages throughout their conquered territory and to the Far East beyond India, reaching down across Myanmar. This tribe could be seen Unique as they commonly believe in their origin from one exact place unlike those of the other tribe inhabitants of Nagaland.
In the book of Furer Haimendorf Christoph Von, 'the Return to Naked Nagas', he called these people 'Kalyo Kengyu' (Slate House Dwellers) as they were found living under 'Slated roof Houses' at the time of his visit.
According to the book ‘human Landscape’ by Geeti Sen “All this is express with official brevity in one sentence in an ethnographic study 'People of India': 'Legends traces these people as the 'autochthon' of the area”
Traditional Village Society
This traditional ethnic group has eight important people, who are the cornerstones in every village and possesses the ability to carry out village administration and their sustenance along with traditional health care professionals and other traditional activities experts. These people provide incentives for means of livelihood in order to get rid of meagre living. They were perhaps like the executive, who manages the common affairs of the village. They are as follows:
1. Nokpao (War leader, Warrior) - Christoph Von Furer-Haimendorf has mentioned the words 'Miho hai Clan' which literally means 'Warrior Clan' in his book 'Return to Naked Nagas' when he visited Pathso(Panso) village in 1936. He goes on mentioning, "After the heads have hung for some time above the skull tree they are all brought to the house of a certain man. This man is the Miho-hai Clan.He does all the Gennas connected with headhunting and never eats Dog, Goat, Cow, and the stomach of Pig. When a man brings the head into the village the Miho washes his hands. Many skulls are hung up on the house of the Miho of the larger khel, the Longshi-hai. Strangely enough, they are put up at the back. When the Miho dies all these skulls are thrown into the jungle and the new Miho who is one of the oldest men of the Miho-hai clan starts anew with the piling up of all enemy skulls captured during his time in office". The successor or a man, who is 'Miho' can perhaps, be called Nokpao.
2. Putsee (Peacemaker, elder) - Peacemaker obviously has to do with peacekeeping activities. They/he resolves the issues which could lead to major conflict among his people, negotiating and confronting both sides to reconcile, to eradicate the disorder prevailing in the society and promoting unity and peace among the villagers. One appropriate example could be that issue, related to field border disputes among people and even within families. Hence, in such a case the 'Putsee' has to intervene to further intercede and rectify the problems as he is equipped with the knowledge of his forebear and fully conversant with the ancestors of his community. Similarly, he resolves such kinds of issues by telling them who actually is the right person to receive the legacies or inherit the properties of his ancestors. He always remains accountable to his people and consolidates the fragmented groups of people to ensure peace and unity. The village councils are often called Putsee in these modern days.
3. Ampao (Priest) -Today, the title Ampao is given to a person serving as a pastor in any church whether beyond or within their boundaries. Every church member highly values his prestige position.
4. Kieo Lomei (Doctor) - He or She has the knowledge of local medicines to cure the disease/symptoms of the patients. This tradition is still practising though may not be like those of the olden days. He also has the power of repositioning the bones to a normal state of the dislocated parts of the body of individuals.
5. Eiah (Priestess and Oracle) - He/she tells the advice or information given by gods which often had a hidden meaning, especially about the future. In others words, the priest or priestess through whom the gods were thought to give their messages.
6. Shoalang-Po (Blacksmith) - This man is skillfully equipped with the technique of coming up many designs of agricultural tools, machinery and different type of weapons for hunting in the olden days. He is an abled person to repair things for the reuse. However today, there are many 'Shoalang-Po' with different kinds of techniques making different local cooking and kitchen utensils and many more which are highly utility for the villagers.
7. Paothieo-Po (Storyteller) - He has the complete knowledge of his ancestors, generations after generations. He knows every generation by name and has the capability of digging out events and incidents that took place like 'war'. Paothieo-Po points out every bloodline of each tribal society and clarifies the issues related to the ties of the kinship. He then tells this as a story to his Sons and Grandsons which he acquired the knowledge through personal experiences and witnesses and the stories imparted by his Parents and Grandparents.
8. Ainloom - A person who keeps a supposedly magical stone; the stone is said to warn or signal any of the impending disasters, either natural or manmade, such as a fire or a raid, by moving out of its case or basket or by creating a sound through striking another object. The Stone is kept so as to get the warning signal of the disaster awaiting in the future.
By the early 1990s, only the Puthsee, the Shoalang and the Ainloom remained relevant, others being remembered mainly as a part of books and oral tradition. However, some of them are still in use like the title Ampao is Given to a person who is a minister in charge of a Christian church or group.
There are mainly three Major clans which the Khiamniungans practise till today, such as Shiu, Lam and Chio. But the European Anthropologist, Christoph Von mentioned in his book that 'there are three clans in Panso(one of the Khiamniungan villages), Miho-Hai, Shiu-hai, and Lam-hai clans which are exogamous'. It is to clarify here that the word Miho-hai which he understandably refers to Longshi-hai Clan comes under Shiu Clan, which is impossible for them to marry between Longshe-hai and Shiu-hai clan. He also stated that 'Panso people are strictly monogamous' which I would say probably in those times his observation may seem to be true, unlike today's generation. He rightly asserted that these people pay no 'bride price'. In addition, these people do not practice arranged marriage.
Before Christianity affected the lives of the Khiamniungans, they Practice Animism, with different kinds of activities. However, with the coming of western missionaries in Nagaland, the Khiamniungans have accepted to be a part of Christian as other Nagas being influenced by the Western Missionaries. The book 'Human Landscape' edited by Geeti Sen, Ashis Banerjee shows 'the dominant religion is Christianity about 89.61 percent'. However, in the recent years, the population of the Christianity has been increased to 98.5 percent of the total inhabitants. The religion of others in the region like Hinduism is by 0.7 percent of the population, Islam by 0.5, Buddhism by 0.2 and a number of Sikhs.
The Names of the Khiamniungans are quite unique and interesting. Some of their names have meanings defining personalities. The Cultural Name appears to be one of the most important traditions to be carried on for these people. Especially, the Student Unions are taking initiative for this tradition to be followed, establishing mechanisms like passing the resolution to mandate the cultural practices of naming the person as their forefathers and ancestors. The Lists of their Cultural names are as follows:
Masculine Personal Cultural Names
Bathong, Bangchie, Bunam, Buchaie, Bunyie, Bonghyh, Buhchong, Benglang, Bukei, Bengchang.
Chillio, Chumong, Chetei, Chingkhong, Chuba, Chalim, Chenoh, Cheye,
Duhming, Duhmo, Dumong
Hanong, Hatho, Hoamo, Heno, Hosea, Halim, Heime, Hungtaie
Jujong, Jugpou, Jingmuck
Khunou, Koi, Khou, Khungo, khaikho, khumong, Khuming, Khushoh, Khumo
Longshe, Langkhio, Langshe, Liang, Lamthio, Lamnyoh, Lushoh, Lusang, Longkhoi
Mongtham, Muno, Mukim, Mushang,Mukom, Mushou, Muchou, Mulang, Mudang
Nokshing, Nyiusewh, Nyingpao
Pushong, Pushia, Pushe, Pushou, Pusing, Puhie, Pupoi, Pukhoh, Putse, Pukoi, Puchio, Putsui, Pukeo, Puhnyang, Putsong, Peshim, Pehe, Pungom
Shingnyo, Shangchiu, Sheying, Shellem, Suthem, Sangtsui, Sang, Shou, Sukho, Siangsoh, Sangkuthong, Simon, Shuhmoh, Sumoh
Tangmong, Thiamo, Tumong,Tangsoi, Thangming, Tsuthong, Tsangmong,Tsoatham,Thangpong,Tuming,Thungo,Tanghiu, Tsungnya, Tungiou
Feminine Personal Cultural Names
Chuliam, Cham, Chongthiam, Chamthoi
Hoamniu, Hemshou, Honglin
Juliam, Jongtei, Jutsoi, Jongkoi, Jutie, Jongkhoi, Jongphie, Juphoi, Jeme, Jongliu,Jushoh , Jeing
Koinyiu, Kongnyiu, Khumnyiu, Kushe, Khoumniu, Khaloi,
Lamnyiu, Longkoi, Lingnyu
Mongshai, Muthiam, Mounyiu, Mutsoi, Mary, Musem, Mushao, Mokthoi, Muhao
Niamkoi, Nyiumoih, Nucha, Nyiukai
Shongmou, Shongmao, Shoinyiu, Sujang,Supou
Thokpoa, Thongkoi, Tangnyiu, Thingpio, Thingnyiu, Tsoinyiu,Themshao, Tainyiu, Tsakian, Ting, Tsoiniu