Sunday, 26 July 2009

Our Naga Wedding Celebration

Nitoli and I in our semi-traditional Naga dress, surrounded by "Warriors" of the Sema tribe after our Naga Wedding Ceremony in Dimapur

On the 29th of November the time had finally come for our third (and last) wedding celebration, this time in Nitoli's home state of Nagaland. For the past 5 or 6 decades Nagaland has become increasingly Christianized by American Baptist missionairies to the point where today well over 90% of the population profess to Christianity. As such most Naga weddings are white church weddings emulating primarily American wedding traditions.

Since we already had our white church wedding according to Danish traditions we decided to it differently by honouring the old wedding traditions of the Nagas' pre-Christian days. We couldn't do everything the same, since in those days the groom would be running around in loin cloth and it would be way too scandalous for a foreigner like me to do the same. However, we did get a cultural troupe of Semas (Nitoli's paternal tribe) dressed in proper traditional dress, inclyuding loin cloth. They danced their traditional wedding dances and took other traditional steps such as aggressive posturing and threatening the groom to make sure he is aware of the consequences if he should misbehave later in the marriage. After the speeches and other performances were done, we invited our guests to a buffet next door.

Naga weddings don't last for many hours like European ones do. So after the lunch buffet people tend to leave. So instead we arranged a night party for our many younger guests, who had come from near and far to celebrate this even with us. Take a look at the picture below.

My mum, dad and brother Ole ready for the celebration in their Naga colours

The Sema Cultural Troupe performing traditional wedding dances on stage

Dancer threatening the groom to behave. I think I have done okay, so far.

Our reaction to a dancer's quite delicate malfunction leaving little to the imagination

I went to stage to give a speech to Nitoli and her family. I impressed the audicence with almost correct pronounciation of the Naga delicacy "Axone" (fermented soyabeans).

Another performance: Young girl sings a song - she was very good.

Nitoli's uncle giving his speech.

Nitoli greeting our guests after the ceremony

Several hundred guests means several hundred hands to shake

Posing with spear and dao (traditional Naga knife) and a bear fur head dress outside the hall. All my attempts at looking fierce - Naga style - failed miserably.

One of the youngest dancers getting a good look ar our friend Ulla. Blonde girls are not a very common sight in Nagaland it should be said.

Some of our guests enjoying the buffet, mostly with Naga food, but also some Indian

Group picture of all of our friends who came for the wedding. Most of them came from Delhi, but we also had visitors who came all the way from Europe

The scene of the night's after party for our friends. One of our good friends from Delhi arranged for us to have the party on the lawn at her family's estate.

Quite cozy with several nice bonfires - Nagaland nights get a bit chilly in winter

Later there was dancing in the pavillion. That is me to the right, showing off some bizarre move.

The pavillion seen without flash

We even had fun with some experimental photo techniques. Here is a "ghost picture" of our friend Chubala.

The day after: Nitoli's sister and her two adorable daughters helping with the opening of gifts. We mostly got shawls as is tradition in Nagaland


Latin Sardar said...

Beautiful pics!

Rachana Shakyawar said...

Pleasure to see the pictures...
hey if u have plenty of Naga shawls then post me one ;) hey just kidding..!!

Esben said...

@Latin Sardar

Thanks :)


Yeah, those shawls are very cool, no wonder you want one :oP Unfortunately we don't have many of the shawls left. Tradition is that you pass on most of the shawls to female members of your family, who have helped during the wedding preparations.

We only kept a few, and I think the last two we just hung on the walls of our new apartment.

deewane said...

Whoa 3 wedding celebrations!!! That must have been hectic and FUN :), the pictures are lovely as usual, especially of your wife in the traditional garb.

Schizoid said...

I stumbled upon your blog while I was browsing for Khonoma on google. I am from Assam in Northeast India. I find your posts extremely interesting--they have captured the essence beautifully. You also have a wonderful collection of photographs.

Esben said...

@deewane & Schizoid

Thanks to both for your comments.

Dewaane, it has been quite a ride. And now a very new chapter has been added, but more about that soon ;-)

Schizoid, have you made it to Nagaland yet?

Oħomiya Jeet said...

Wow Esben... that looks like quite the wedding celebration you had there! What an experience that must have been not only for you two but also your families and friends. Congratulations!

Esben said...

Thanks Jeet! Btw I'm going back to Meghalaya soon - gonna go see the living bridges of Cherrapunjee. Did you ever visit those?

Aniket said...

That is so nice....u seem to love India and its people....U r a gud human being...always be dat !! Best wishes to ur happy married life !!

Soumyadipta said...

Hey Esteban cool pics and great choice you made there marrying a Naga damsel...Sumi or Sema's as they are known are a great n warm people.....I had a very good Sumi friend ...She was a very good person....too....however I love all the Naga tribes....Aos', Angamis', Semas',Chakhesangs',Tangkhuls(from Manipur), Changs, whoever...I am sure you will have a gr8 life ahead ..both of you..............Ronnie

Soumyadipta said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Soumyadipta said...

Sorry Got your name wrong...its ESBEn not ESTEBAN...made a portugues/spanish mistake...apologies....

Esben said...

Hi Ronnie

Thanks for leaving a comment and good to see that you also know the Nagas well.


Avi said...

It's pretty interesting and I like them.... Creative work! Ben!