I had heard a lot about Nagaland, it’s people, art, culture, the unique varieties of herbs and spices, their food, and Nagas’ intimate connection with mother nature. Nagas are known as fearsome headhunters, fighters and tribals, with many presumptuous stories that people assume are true, because despite being part of India, Nagaland has remained the exotic ‘other’. My journey here opened my eyes and heart to a rich culture and even richer history. This blog post is about my love story, with Nagaland.
Many have heard about Nagaland, but very few have actually travelled to this beautiful place. Nagaland is a part of the ‘Seven Sisters’– that includes Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura. Thanks to our friends @DesignStash, we got the opportunity to be part of Nagaland and see it up close. A lovely train journey took us from Guwahati to the extreme east-end of India, to the land of Nagas – where the air and the greenery were simply mesmerizing.
It became very clear that despite being sidelined by the Indian government for decades, the Nagas by nature are full of an industrious spirit. The amount of facilities required for the prosperity of the state is still missing but people have worked their way out on many self-sustainable models. They are great lovers of fun and frolic and here, life is one long festival. The local culture has the deep imprint of Western influence, as seen in their fashion and music. English is the pre-dominant language amongst the locals, many of whom practice Christianity.
In my journey, I saw the colorful life and rich culture of the Nagas. They are very skilled in making things with their hands and are known for their textile, handicrafts and cuisines. Till recent years, they were dependent on the forest for their food and shelter, which gives them a deep insight into the natural and organic lifestyle, which I wanted to absorb and explore for my Tea. Our journey, luckily, was not just about the food and spices, but also culminated in us attending three weddings and witnessing India’s first Mixed Martial Arts Tournament – Yoddha Fighting Championship. Most importantly, I discovered the rich history of Tea (my favorite subject!) in the many discussions I had with the locals I interacted with, as I explored the many local markets.
I found that people have been growing wonderful varieties of Tea here for centuries, but only for the local consumption. There is no outside trade. I was told that people from Burma and China usually come here in search of herbs and spices, which are very unique in taste and are exquisite in aroma. Nagaland is still so untouched and far from industrial pollution, and this seems to be the reason why the flora and fauna in this region is still very pure and organic. More of my explorations with Naga tea in my next post. Come back!
To be continued…