A Journey into the World of the Naga People (Part 2)

Continuation of A Journey into the World of the Naga People

At one time, the naga people were headhunters. English anthropologist, writer and in time to be guerrilla fighter, Ursula Graham Bower described the Naga Hills as the “paradise of head-hunters.”Ursula Bower, author and anthropologist (died November 1988). Sh

Most villages had a skull house and each man in the village was expected to contribute to the collection. The taking of a head was symbolic of courage and men who could not, were dubbed as women or cows. There was nothing more glorious for a naga than victory in battle by bringing home the severed head of an enemy. There is however, no indication of cannibalism among the naga tribes. This practice is now entirely eradicated with the spread of modern education in the region.

Now this information has been passed on to me by Peter, who as I have already stated, is of the naga people. This is a man with a pretty amazing heritage and even though headhunting might turn a modern stomach, let’s not forget the things we did to others throughout the course of history.

The naga people are traditionally tribally organized, with a strong warrior custom. Their villages are sited on hilltops and until the later part of the 19th century, they made frequent armed raids on the plains below. Although the tribes exhibit variation to a certain degree, considering the diversity in their languages and some traditional practices, they have many similarities in their cultures which set them apart from the neighboring occupants of the region. Almost all these tribes have a similar dress code, eating habit, customs, traditional laws etc. Today the naga number around two million.

Apart from cultural contacts with the neighboring Ahoms, the rulers of Assam from 1228, the naga had little or no contact with the outside world. Real exposure to the outside world came with the British annexation of Assam in 1828 following the Treaty of Yandabo in 1826. In the 1830s, the British sent expeditionary forces, and in 1845, the colonial power succeeded in concluding a non-aggression pact with naga chiefs, who used to attack the bordering areas in Assam. But the naga violated the agreement time and again and their war and peace tactics continued. Attempts by the British after the 1830s to annex the region were met with sustained and effective guerrilla resistance from naga groups.

The British responded by dispatching numerous military expeditions until they succeeded in establishing a foothold by building military post in some areas in 1851. The conflict culminated in 1878 when naga guerrillas mounted raids on British camps. The response was brutal with the burning of several rebel villages by the British forces. The resistance met with failure and eventually the region fell under the administration of the British. Christianity soon grew among the naga and nowadays it is the majority religion.

Traditionally the naga live in villages. The village is a well-defined entity with distinct land demarcation from neighboring villages. Each has a dialect of its own, which fosters a strong sense of social solidarity within the village. Almost every home rears pigs, as pigs do not need much care and provide meat. The people of the village are held together by social, economic, political and ritual ties. The villages have their own identity, but not in isolation, as there are interdependent relationships with neighboring villages. The impact of modernization is slowly but steadily eroding the centrality of villages as a social unit, as large commercial towns are rapidly coming up in every region of the Naga Hills. This is bringing about drastic changes in the values, lifestyle, and social setup of the people.

I think this is enough for today.
Come back on this weekend for part three of the story of these amazing people.
Have a great day.
Gavin

 

A Journey into the World of the Naga People

The world about us is diverse to say the least. It’s a magnificent tapestry of interesting faces and incredible places, of awe-inspiring beauty and of inconceivable mysteries just waiting to be discovered. Many of us go about our daily lives without even contemplating the magnitude of life. We begin our conventional mornings with mugs of coffee and hot showers before heading off to work or to school. Then we come home to watch the TV while wishing we had the guts to go do something else instead. The truth is, none of us know how lucky we are. We take for granted all that has been given to us and we think all seven billion of us live just as we do.
It’s easy to become complacent and very few of us are truly free of the chains of modern society. There are other worlds within this world though, battles being fought, lands being lost, people suffering great injustices. In fact, truth is stranger than fiction and any great fantasy writer knows all too well that reality is the bases of fiction.
Today I want to bring to your intention the story of the naga people. Now, I know what you are thinking. You are probably sitting there reading my words, wondering who on earth the naga people are. And if you are not, then you are probably wondering what importance they are to you or to anybody else within western society. Well, that’s where you are wrong. You see, all peoples, all nations and all tribes have an importance on this planet. We are all one blood running through veins under different shades of skin. We are all born unto this planet, all share this planet and we will all die on this planet. Except for the ones of us who decide to hop a one way flight to Mars of course.
So why have I decided to write about a people that hardly anybody knows about? Well, first of all, it’s just because hardly anybody knows about them and second of all, I happen to be a good friend with a naga. He has asked me to write about his people and the humanist I am, I was more than happy to do so. What I am writing to you now is all based on his words, so you are getting the story from a true naga and a man who burns for his people. So grab a coffee and buckle your seat belts.

This is my friend, Peter Ememindex.11224.942692030112240
The term ‘naga’ refers to a conglomeration of tribes inhabiting the northeastern part of India and northwestern Myanmar (Burma). The tribes have similar cultures and traditions and they form the majority ethnic group in the Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur; Nagaland and across the border of Myanmar.
Of the numerous, unique identities of the naga people, the most unique, traditional items that can be found in almost all of the naga tribes and that distinctly separate naga from the other tribes are the conical red headgear, decorated with wild-boar canine teeth and white-black hornbill feathers, the spear with the shaft decorated with red-black hairs and the unique Dao with broad blade and long handle.

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Now this is not exactly coffee and cookies, is it? It’s turning into National Geographic. Isn’t the world we live in an exciting place for sure!

That’s all for today.

Gavin    

link to author Gavin Hill  on Amazon

 

 

Odd Socks for Down Syndrome

As many of you already know, I work with special needs children. It’s an amazing job and one that I hope to continue doing for many years to come. Special needs children are no different than you and me, apart from that fact that they have certain difficulties that we don’t have to deal with. I consider myself lucky to have been able to work with them most of my adult life. I am a people person and always have been. If you were to put me in a factory I would probably give up and die.

Children are the future. All children are the future. Not just the ones who conform to what many within society consider to be the standard norm. Besides, exactly what is the standard norm? I doubt I would fit into everybody’s standard norm. I wouldn’t want to either.

On the 21st of this month it will be World Down Syndrome Day. Down Syndrome is a naturally occurring chromosomal arrangement that has always been a part of the human condition. It affects roughly one in each eight hundred births. Down Syndrome usually causes varying degrees of intellectual and physical disability and associated medical issues.

It has become quite a common practice here in Sweden and I am sure it is the same in other parts of the world that people wear odd socks on this day to recognize people with Down Syndrome. The odd socks campaign aims to raise awareness of Down Syndrome in a bright and colorful way, while securing vital funds to support children and their families through early intervention and specialist help and advice.

So if you have two feet, a bunch of socks and don’t mind people asking why it is that you are wearing odd socks, go ahead and show your support. We were all created the way we were for a reason. Let’s support Down Syndrome together. You are welcome to send your odd sock photos to sweetconclusionsgr@yahoo.com for us to post.Odd Socks for Down SyndromeDid you know there is even a tiger with Down Syndrome? His name is Kenny and he lives at the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Have a great day!

Gavin  ~  link to Author Gavin Hill on Amazon

 

Rite of Spring

Pussy willow buds or “catkins” opening right before my spring-starved eyes was truly an amazing nature moment bestowed upon me this lovely March day in central Minnesota. I have been fortunate for the past eleven years to only have to peer out my window to witness this transformation of winter to spring!  This tree was planted in loving memory of my father in 2004. It now stands proudly above the rooftops. The lovely silky catkins come before the leaves.

opening pw scPW scPussy willow trees are native to wetlands of Canada and the eastern U.S. As a willow, the trees are part of the genus, Salix. The terminology “pussy willows” is used loosely to refer both to the trees themselves and to the furry buds on their branches.

I hope you enjoyed the beauty!

Catch you next time with more Sweet Conclusions!

Rosie

Web Site for Sweet Conclusions

The Bus Stop of Humanity

Just last week I watched a short video clip. It was an interview with writer, actor and all-round funny guy, Stephen Fry. He was being interviewed by an Irish TV presenter named Gay Byrne. He was asked what he would say to God if he died and had to confront him. I am not sure if I was surprised or shocked by what he had to say. Everybody has the right to their opinion and nobody has the right to deny anybody the right to an opinion. So, Stephen Fry has his opinion and I have mine. That’s fine. However, I certainly don’t agree with his opinion.

In his imaginary conversation with God, Fry says he would tell him: “How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault? It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?”
Now, I can certainly understand what Stephen meant. I don’t have to agree with him to understand him. We live in a world of such uncertainties, a world where all of us are only seconds from death at any given time. We grow up eating while others are starving; go to school while others are denied the right to an education. We begin our working lives while others will never see work, start our own families while others suffer alone.

Countless diseases hover at our door, lurking around the very next corner, waiting for the perfect opportunity to pounce. We know that life is fragile and that death awaits us all. It’s only a matter of time.

But for me that’s part of life here on this planet, the flip side of the coin. That’s the way it is and that’s the way we made it. God didn’t necessarily make it this way. Maybe we did. I have always believed in God. Maybe not like you. I don’t think of God as being an old man with a white beard, sitting on a fluffy cloud. I don’t see God as man, woman or an animal. You might not agree with what I’m saying. You don’t have to. God, for me is what I see around me. God is the sky, the sea, the trees, the flowers, the animals… God is humanity.

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Call me crazy if you will, but consider this. Is it not possible that everything we need, that every cure for every disease is out there waiting for us to discover it? Is it not possible that God hasn’t lost sight of us, rather that we have lost sight of God? We already know there’s enough food on this planet to feed everybody if only we were not throwing mountains of food away.

Or consider this. Is it not possible that the world we live in is the bus stop of humanity; that we are here to prove ourselves worthy of God? Is it not possible that God put us here to see if we can solve problems, not to complain because we have problems? Personally I believe we are all here for a reason, that there are no coincidences, no flukes and no mistakes. People are being murdered by people who murder people and people are going hungry because other people are too selfish to share the wealth. I don’t believe in diseases, I believe in cures. I believe the cure for every ailment is out there just waiting for us to discover it. God isn’t punishing us. He is testing us.

How about this for an idea. Let’s suppose my son’s grandson saves a drowning boy and that boy grows up and finds a cure for cancer. Had I never been born that man would have drowned as a child and a cure for cancer would never be found. Hmm, looks like I just might have an idea for my next book- hahaha

So, Stephen Fry has his opinion, you have yours and I have mine and that’s good enough for me. But for all you disbelievers out there, just take a look around yourselves and see the world for what it is. Don’t see problems as holes in the road of your life. See them as interesting puzzles to solve.

A hundred different diseases may strike you down, but don’t blame that on God. Blame it on previous generations of humans who have taken the money that could have gone into finding cures, but instead, have wasted it on weapons of mass destruction. You maybe see humans hurting humans, others going hungry. You can’t blame that on God either. You can blame that on the richest one percent of people who own almost half of global wealth. How is that God’s fault?

We create our own destinies. I believe God put us here to figure that one out for ourselves.

Have a great day!
Gavin (Amazon author link) 

Being Thankful – Celebrate You!

When photographing this art piece, kaleidoscope colors of September 2007 memories rushed through my mind of relentless, agonizing pain and discomfort. My second port a cath had become infected and poison was running rampant through my blood stream.

pin sc

Laying on the ER bed as extremely strong antibiotics whirled, blending the mixture of medicine to help my weakened body fight the severe infection, the medicine and overhead lights made my vision blurry. During the course of daily treatments, I recall one moment when I saw a glimpse of my “heavenly” father by the foot of my hospital bed protecting me. It was a calming reassurance. He is always working in me … no matter what I may feel or how the situation may look … I have to remember God is in control of my life and carrying me.

It is now several years later, I have gone through another major health crisis. I have been bed ridden now for 182 days. I am thankful to be making slow progress. Thankful to be alive. I still have moments where I think things are going a little too slow in all areas of my life. This especially happens to me during sleepless nights, I then become impatient.  One night thinking of what the outside world must be doing, I became miserable. I was pondering how wonderful it would be to fly or drive somewhere to meet my friends, go window shopping, go to an event, take a long walk to view nature, anything but be in this bed. It was a moment of being human. 

We all have some kind of personal issue, health and financial issues, moments where we think, “How can I go on, why is this happening, what is the future going to bring?” We want things to happen in “our” time but need to realize all good things happen only in God’s timing.

I can choose to have positive thoughts over negative ones. I also can choose to be hopeful. I believe that hope is the anchor of my positive soul. I recommend to never stop hoping and being positive. Above all keep your faith. Together they are powerful tools of our spirit pushing forward. Never allowing us to give up.

Recently a dear friend used my story for her devotional. I share with you what she wrote.

 On Being Thankful

I have a dear friend named Rose that I’ve known for 30 years. She is the definition of determination. Over 20 years ago, she was diagnosed with several intestinal diseases, and eventually she had a feeding tube surgically placed in her intestine. For the last 21 years, Rose has had nothing to eat or drink by mouth. Since then, she has had many surgeries, some to help repair or replace tubes, and then repair the damage on her insides. What amazes me perhaps even more is that after any surgery, and every day since, she cannot have any pain medication. She has lived with pain, sometimes constant and often severe pain since this diagnosis began. Each day she suffers without relief.

Rose has had physical therapy, but recently even that needed to be reexamined. The rough therapy has been causing her to vomit, and her neck and shoulders are frozen, both rotary cuffs have tears, and she suffers complex inflammation all due to her last major surgery in October. She is now on day 178 of complete bed rest. Recently, she talked of the indescribable feeling of warm water.

Listen:

“Warm water on my shoulders and back after 116 days is too incredible for words!”
(I was able to stand without the safety harness for a few minutes in the shower! My aid still had to wash my hair by having me sit etc. for that, but the moments of freedom to feel ALIVE were electrifying! )

Yet, throughout this entire ordeal, Rose has been a believer in God. Her faith puts mine to shame. Her Facebook posts contain updates written with honesty and without gloss. But they also contain words of hope, of perseverance, and of determination. She shines even throughout a life filled with pain, without the joy of eating and drinking, and with no assurance that her earthly body will ever fully heal. She has had many “heaven” moments, and some people might wonder why she chooses to keep on trying to live.

I share with you her story to remind all of us that we have much to be thankful for! Hearing about her daily struggles puts life into perspective. I shudder when thinking how contrite and trivial frustrations and annoyances can be. I am reminded to really thank God at each meal not only for the food but for the fact I can eat it.

Here’s one more recent post from Rose:
“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in; their beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”

Let us pray. Dear God remind us to keep our lives in perspective. Help us to not take the simple pleasures we enjoy for granted, but in all things give you thanks and praise. Teach us to be more grateful. In your name we pray, Amen.
Amen and thank you Juli for sharing your beautiful words and years of friendship.

I anticipate a miracle in my life … join me in that prayer for your own miracle to happen!

Peace,

Rosie

Oh, Beautiful Dorset (part 3)

Continuation of Oh, Beautiful Dorset and Oh, Beautiful Dorset part 2,

I was brought up in Wimborne, England. Wimborne lies on the River Stour. It was an old Saxon settlement and the foundation of Wimborne Minster dates back to the beginning of the eighth century. The minster was sacked by the Danes in 1013. Æthelred of Wessex was buried there in 871. I remember there being a model town in Wimborne, a complete replica of the town itself. I always felt like a giant when walking up and down the streets, peering into shop front windows.

 

Yes, that sweet little guy is me. Are you wondering what happened? Me too-hahaha

One of the most amazing sights, for me at least, must be Durdle Door. It’s probably one of the most famous rock formations anywhere in the world. 

It was created when the sea eroded the limestone around 10,000 years ago. Isn’t nature fantastic? Part of the Jurassic coast, Durdle Door almost looks like something out of a dinosaur movie.

It doesn’t matter where you go in Dorset, you will always find something interesting to see or to do. Here are some more amazing Dorset photos for you to look at.

Poole Harbor, Sandbanks and Studland Beaches and Brownsea Island.

West Bay

Worbarrow Bay

If you ever get the opportunity to visit England, then head for Dorset. There are so many beautiful places to visit in the county with a little of everything.

Until next time with more Sweet Conclusions,

Gavin

Oh, Beautiful Dorset (Part 2)

continuation of Oh, Beautiful Dorset

We have our share of castles in Dorset too. I always remember going on a school trip to Corfe Castle. The dramatic ruins of Corfe Castle stand on a natural hill guarding the principle route through the Purbeck Hills. In 978 King Edward was reputedly murdered there by his step-mother so that her own son, Ethelred the Unready could become king of England.

During medieval England Corfe was a royal castle. King John kept his jewels there and Edward ll was imprisoned and tortured there. What a place… what a story.

During the civil war the castle was finally besieged by Parliamentary forces and eventually, it fell after two sieges in 1645. Now, perched on top of a hill, all you can see today are the shattered and broken walls of that historical place.

As I have already stated, a large percentage of my teens were spent in Bournemouth. Sadly, I don’t remember much from those years. They were spent getting in trouble and although I am ashamed to admit it, getting high. I spent a lot of time on Bournemouth beach though. I actually slept under the pier. Bournemouth is a beautiful town, a typical seaside resort. You can’t visit Bournemouth without taking a local bus tour or visiting the Pavilion Theater, strolling through the Pleasure Gardens or taking in the sights and sounds on Old Christchurch Road.

I haven’t been home since 2007. I expect an awful lot has changed since then. 

This is Bournemouth Lower Gardens.

And this is Bournemouth Beach

Something else I remember about Dorset is the New Forest. I spent a lot of time there as a child because my aunt owned a pub there called the Alice Lisle. And as with everything in Dorset, the Alice Lisle has its own intriguing story to tell. Lady Alice Lisle was charged with harboring a pair of traitors from Monmouth’s defeated army at Moyles Court.  She was tried by a judge named George Jefferys. Jefferys was actually known as the ‘Hanging Judge’, also known as ‘Bloody Jefferys’. 68 year old Alice was beheaded at Winchester market-place on September 2, 1685.

The pub was said to be haunted and I can tell you know, it was.  I have a vivid memory of seeing her from my bedroom window one night.

The New Forest is hardly new. It was actually a former hunting area, created by William the Conqueror in 1079. It’s an absolutely beautiful place to visit. You will see ponies idly wandering along without a care in the world and herds of deer, donkeys, pigs and sheep crossing oceans of heather. There are six species of deer in England and all live in the New Forest, as are all six species of reptile. Isn’t it strange how there are six of each?