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Nagaland: Festival of Orality begins at Tetso College Sovima, Chumukedima


The event aims at strengthening and building capacity of the multiple stakeholders and custodians for the safeguarding, identification, documentation and inventorying of the intangible cultural heritage

By Imna Longchar, TFM Nagaland Correspondent

Northeast of India with its enchanting landscape and vibrant communities has also has a unique “treasure trove” of stories, songs, and narrations to share to the world.
Panellists who are all experts in their own respective fields are currently stationed in the state who would be guiding the participants or the attendees for the ongoing three days oral festival-The Listener which started at Lorin Hall, Testo College, Sovima, Chumukedima, Friday evening.
A programme hosted to enlightened through a journey of “conservation and discourse”, the literature festival will also transport the participants and the attendees through performances by talented Naga artistes reflecting and dedicating and also with a commitment in sharing a message in preserving and in celebrating the cultural heritage of the country.
Embarking on a journey of orality where words come alive and stories resonate in the air, a vibrant tapestry of voices and stories which indeed would be a celebration of shared heritage and a testament to the power of story telling would be seeing joint secretary, ministry of culture, government of India, Lily Pandeya, guest on the second day that starts at 10 am at the same venue.
The workshop in a way titled as “capacity building programme” will also experience the ministry of India, government of India’s aims to strengthen and build the capacity of the multiple stakeholders and custodians for the safeguarding, identification, documentation and inventorying of the intangible cultural heritage (ICH) of India, where the module of the capacity building workshop is thoughtfully designed and envisioned to raise awareness about the concepts and operations of the ICH related UNESCO conventions and programmes ratified by India through the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005), memory of the World Programme and UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network (UCCN).
This workshop also intends to enhance capabilities by pooling resources at the regional or sub-regional level to establish standardized and efficient procedures. It aims to create a strong network for the preparation of nomination documents for India’s intangible cultural heritage (ICH) under different conventions, with the goal of broadening the diversity of ICH representation from India.
A two-pronged methodology is adopted for this workshop including the Academic- Capacity Building via a combination of presentations, lecture demonstrations, relevant literature and resource material and Experiential-Capacity Building through case studies, interactive sessions, cultural performances etc.
The workshop has a target audience and participants including the in-service professionals of culture sector of the regional government/ULBs/district administration, faculty representatives of History/Culture/archaeology/anthropology/ethnography/Musicology and alike of state and regional central universities with participations from the NGOs, organizations, unions, associations, trusts for artists, ICH practitioners, and the ICH advocacy groups.
Terming the inaugural programme as “prolific”, guest of the inaugural programme of the 3-days orality festival, commissioner and secretary, art and culture, Nagaland, Athel O Lotha, said that the following remaining two days would a “days” would be an event where cultural diversity of the state could be an sustainable opportunities which cannot be ignored accordingly to the very “intangible cultural heritage” manifested earlier in the multiple domains including oral traditions, and in a way in expressions, performing arts, social practices, and including rituals and festivals, knowledge, nature, and traditions making Nagaland along with their sister states of the northeast an “inheritors” of the unique traditions and cultural which they are being identified and recognized as culturally rich people worldwide.
Citing that the “popularization threats and social transformation” alongside the conditions of giving rise to “disappearances and destruction” to the intangible culture of heritage in particular owing to lack of resources for safeguarding such heritage, Athel mentioned that the indigenous communities play an important role in production, safeguarding members, and in recreating the “intangible cultural heritage” thereby assisting to enrich the culture and humane diversity and creativity of the people.
The noble initiative of the ministry of culture, government of India (GoI), in chipping in for the 3-days event, she said was for capacity building including workshops for raising awareness and engagements in the said cultural heritage involving multiple stakeholders where they coming together as representatives of a “resolute state” in a “crucial moment” when cultural preservation could not be understated where she also hoped the two remaining days would be able to “plant” the much needed seeds of significance and holistic maintenance of the intangible cultural heritage in the present modern times.
MLA and advisor, Law and Justice, land revenue, Nagaland, TN Manen, who attended the inaugural programme as guest and also as a member of the INTACH, Nagaland, said he was honoured and privileged to be part of “the Listeners-the festival of orality”, and also to share the insight of the festival.
Adding that the people are in such a transition adapting accordingly to the fast-changing times or in a digitalized and technologically advanced world which according to him is a “crazy world” in the midst of the “craziness”, the MLA and retired bureaucrat expressed that holding the kind of literature festival specially in Nagaland could be a “refreshing experience” not to retrospect into what the Nagas were to look beyond while also adding that Nagaland state being bestowed with very rich diverse culture and they believing in they believing in “unity and diversity” but he however lamented that unfortunately some of the Naga traditions is “re-packaged” and badly threatened which unless rediscourse and renew on what the Nagas are known as worldwide, he also hoped that very soon the “misinformation” with regard to the Nagas would be erased from the society.
Head of the UNESCO chair in language policies for multilingualism, Federal University, Santa Catarina, Brazil, Professor Dr Gilvan Muller De Oliviera, in his keynote address said that language is very important to be a part in sharing through the kind of platform being organized.
He being thankful to be part in the midst of the many Naga intellectuals and learners, Dr Gilvan Muller also disclosed that the UNESCO has identified the very culture of the Nagas though it might take sometimes to work on the documentation.
Dr Muller later released the INTACH book while also launching the digital archive of the Northeast India Indigenous People’s Archive (NEIIPA), accompanied by principal, Tetso College, Sovima, Chumukedima, Dr Hewasa L Khing.
Earlier, L Somi Roy, Imasi Foundation Imphal, Manipur, welcomed the gatherings, invocation chants were led by Guru Sangyusang Pongener, of Ungma Village, and Guru Chubatozung, of Chuchuyimlang village, while the theme song was presented by renowned Naga musicians, Tiameren Aier, and Lenen.
Vote of thanks was proposed by the festival director, INTACH, Nagaland, Sentila T Yanger.
Later in the evening, the invitees and the participants were enthralled with a musical concert presented by the Chakhesang Zuvi Cultural Group, Khasi Folk Music by the Kongthong Village Ensemble, Meghalaya, Dr Delong Padum, from Arunachal Pradesh, while Wungyinla Yimkhiung, and Yakshi Yimkhiung, also performed.
The 2nd day of the Orality festival to be held at the Lorin Hall, Tetso College, starting 10 am will witness the “Intangible Cultural Heritage Capacity Building Workshop” under the aegis of ministry of culture, government of India, and the Sangeet Natak Akademi, followed by “Listener Nagaland Sessions” with presentation of “The Creation of A Wancho Script” by executive director, Wancho Literary Mission and teacher, Banwang Losu, with discussants in the likes of the deputy director, Central Institute of Indian Languages, Professor Dr Umarani Pappuswamy, Prof Steven Morey, La Trobe University Melbourne, Australia (Hybrid).
Identity in a Whistle will be presented through a mother’s love song by Kongthong village, Meghalaya, under Rothel Khongsit, with singers Beautylyne Khongsit, Bansahburomiang Riahtam, Shaktimon Khongsit, with discussants Dr Madeline Tham, convener, INTACH Meghalaya Chapter, and Rothel Khongsit.
Afternoon sessions would include discussions on “Orality, Digital Technology, and Archiving” where the discussants would be American Institute of Indian Studies, Gurugram, Dr Shubha Chaudhuri, and Jaremdi Wati Longchar Ao, of University of London, who would be talking to the participants virtually, while assistant professor, Tetso College, Dr Wichamdinbo Mataina, will be present at the discussions to be moderated by L Somey Roy.
Session 4 in the afternoon titled “A Father’s Windsong”, Yoyo Gaga lullabies of the Adi tribe, Arunachal Pradesh, will be performed by Dr Delong Padum, Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar Awardee, with another performances by Ponung Megu and Oli Jerang, of Arunchal Pradesh.
The discussants would be led by Hito Kiho, conductor and guest conductor, Nagaland Chamber Choir (NCC), and Dr Delong Padum.
The evening programme included folk music and ethno fusion concert with perfomances of Ao Folk Song, music from Arunachal Pradesh, Ao fusion music, Yimkhiung Naga music, and the Angami Naga fusion by the Coloured Keys.

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