5 1 2017

Christian conversion, the rise of Naga national consciousness, and Naga nationalist politics

Shonreiphy Longvah

Abstract


Religion, a strong belief in the existence of an omnipotent supernatural being that controls human destiny, has long been part of the Naga way of life. Even before Nagas converted to Christianity, they believed in the existence of a Creator, and to whom different Naga tribes accorded different names. Most Naga tribes also had a clear belief system pertaining the afterlife. Part of this article argues that it is therefore a misnomer to define traditional Naga religion as ‘animistic’, as has been commonly done. However, ancient Naga religion did not generate a sense of Naga nationalism in the way, I will argue, Christian conversions did. By the late 19th and early 20th century, many Nagas had been converted to Christianity. At the same time, Nagas’ self-awareness as a political community that shared a common identity and destiny was also born. This article contends that Christian conversion was predominantly responsible for the rise of Naga nationalism.


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