In Kohima, Gate pulling ceremony draws attention of thousands

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In Kohima, Gate pulling ceremony draws attention of thousands

Kohima: If you are familiar with the existence of various tribes in Nagaland and the state, you must have heard about the traditional stone-drawing ceremony by the Angami Nagas. But have you ever heard of the traditional gate pulling ceremony?
Well, the festival of this hornbill, Tsütuonuomia Khel from Kohima village showed us this ancient ritual, and explained its importance in the present day.
Despite torrential rain on Thursday, thousands of men and women from 43 villages, dressed in traditional attire, gathered at Merhülietsa along NH-29 connecting Kohima and Dimapur, where the traditional gate-pulling ceremony began. The event started with a prayer by Rev Kevimese Suohu.

Welcoming the congregation and a host of dignitaries, chairman of the Tsütuonuomia Khel Council, K Neibou Sekhose, said, “The Tsütuo gate will be erected at Seithogei (NH-29) as part of the welcome gate to Kohima, the capital of Nagaland. Besides the gate, 16 stone monuments are erected symbolising the unity of the 16 districts of the state named as Unity Stones”.

In the olden days, traditional gates called “kharu” were constructed over drainages, surrounded by thorny bushes and plants, to prevent enemies and intruders from entering the village.

As most Naga villages were established on mountain tops, the “kharu” were usually located not far from the hamlets with a stone wall built strategically to prevent any unauthorised entry into the villages.

In the present day, the gate represents a physical and symbolic threshold between the outside world and the community within. The wooden gate placed on a wooden board was pulled by the Angami men covering a distance of about 4KM.

In Kohima, Gate pulling ceremony draws attention of thousands

“We do not need to close our gate again. May the people who pass through this gate experience the spirit of oneness. The gate will be open to everyone, not to be closed for fear of enemies, intruders or outsiders as the almighty god is the protector,” Sekhose said.

From Merhulietsa, thousands of men from the Angami tribe pulled the traditional gate till they reached Seithogei where the gate will be erected. On reaching the gate, Nagaland chief minister and host of the Hornbill Festival, Neiphiu Rio, unveiled the unity stones which were erected near the Tsütuo gate while Ambassador of the Republic of Peru to India, Javier Paulinich unveiled the Tsütuo gate monolith.

Addressing the gathering there, Paulinich said that Nagaland has become an example of cultural preservation to the world. “The commitment to promote the Naga traditions, exemplified by events like the Hornbill Festival, resonates deeply with us.

It is a reminder that, despite the geographical distance, our cultural bonds are unbreakable, and events like these serve as bridges that connect countries,” he said.

The Ambassador hoped that the festival may serve as a symbol of unity, cultural exchange, and friendship that will continue to flourish for many years to come.

Earlier, Nagaland chief minister Neiiphiu Rio thanked the Tsütuonuomia Khel for showcasing the culture and traditional practices of the Angami Nagas to the others. He said that such good practices need to be preserved.

Rio also urged the need to pass on the traditional legacy in order to preserve the rich traditional practice. He also pointed out how the British had respected the Nagas by protecting the locals and their lands through an Act of 1873 which was later continued by the Indian government.

As such, he said that the Nagas should also continue to respect the good cultural and traditional practices.

Traditional performances and a community feast hosted by the Tsütuonuomia Khel followed the formal ceremony. Besides the Angami Nagas, other Tenyimi tribes and the Gorkhas attended the event.

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