Hanuman flies to Christian Nagaland
While J&K burns over an icy shivling, Christian Nagaland feels Hindu deity Hanuman can help the state script a tourism turnaround. Reason: the mythical monkey-god’s perceived association with two villages in the state. Rahul Karmakar reports.Updated: Aug 12, 2008 23:24 IST
While J&K burns over an icy shivling, Christian Nagaland feels Hindu deity Hanuman can help the state script a tourism turnaround. Reason: the mythical monkey-god’s perceived association with two villages in the state.
One of these villages is Khonoma, home of the legendary AZ Phizo, father of the Naga nationalist movement. Inhabited by the Angami community, this village in Kohima district was also where the Naga army made its last stand against the British in 1879.
Some 20 km west of the state capital is Chukhiutsu, which in the Angami dialect means the king of animals. “It is a huge rock above this village with a face somewhat resembling Hanuman. In the early days of nature worship, Nagas would pray to Chukhiutsu before a hunting trip to ensure success,” said local resident Khrienie Meru.
Khonoma, he adds, also sports an owl-shaped rock. Spirits resembling local gods are believed to have placed it in the middle of the village and it could be of interest for Hindus. Non-Christian Angamis revered this rock as Terhotsiese.
The other village is Benreu in Peren district, inhabited by Zeliang Nagas. Located 67 km from Kohima, this village has a sizeable number of nature worshippers dictating the social rules of the majority Christians. Benreu, bordering Manipur, arguably sits on the greenest and most biologically vibrant part of Nagaland. Residents attribute it to the spirits guarding Mt Pauna that overlooks the village. They also believe it was the mountain that Hanuman uprooted for the ‘mritsanjeevani’ to bring Ram’s brother Laskhman back to life.
“We have been promoting rural tourism with elements of ethnicity, ecology and adventure. Might as well throw some spiritualism in,” said Nagaland Tourism Director T Alem Pongener.