Myanmar is a land of diverse ethnicity. High on the mountains of North West Myanmar are a proud group of people known to the world as Naga, one of the 135 different ethnic groups that live on Myanmar territory.
Steep slopes and even deeper ravines mark the land as blue hazy mountains retreat towards the horizon. A cold wind blows out of the North during the winter months and summers are not hot in the Naga Hills. The streams, fed by monsoon rains, leap over huge boulders or hiss quietly beside quaint villages. The climate maybe harsh but for the Naga the bright lights of the city has no appeal. They would rather live a life close to nature.
They are hunters first of all. A Naga legend tells that Man is born at the same time with tiger and the greatest honour for a Naga hunter is to be known as a tiger killer. Hunters would wear the fangs and claws of their victims to show their courage.
Also men folks wear fantastic headdresses of colourful hornbill feathers, beads and wild boar tusks. Swords, spears and buffalo hide shields are other compulsory items in the costumes of the Naga men folks.
The women folks have also developed a textile design known locally as the Naga design. City ladies greatly prize the htameins (sarongs), dyed with natural dyes with natural dyes and decorated with distinctive patterns of Naga design. Bright red and black stripes are symbolic of thick Naga blankets. Hunting scenes and festivities or record of important events in the life of the clan are sometime woven into the fabric. But these blankets are not fashion items worn stylishly thrown over one shoulder but also necessary to keep out the intense cold wind blowing over the Naga Hills.
The Naga life styles also depend on nature and the seasons. They are dependent on mother nature to provide them with food and the forest for their daily needs. They live in small communities according to their age-old customs and traditions. There are more than 49 separate small Naga clans and also many villages are on high inaccessible mountaintops. Consequently many of them had evolved not only their own unique customs and traditions and but even dialects. But all celebrate the New Year together: a distinctive blend of unity in diversity.
The Naga New Year falls in the middle of January after the harvest. The people are then free and happy with plenty of food. It is the tradition of the Naga people to share their joy and happiness with friend and guests at this auspicious time but, first and foremost, it is a celebration and thanksgiving for mother nature that has granted them the bountiful harvest.
Now under the guidance of the Ministry of Hotel and Tourism, the Myanmar Travel & Tours (MTT) is proud to welcome international visitors to come celebrate this unique Festival together with the hospitable Naga people and experience the true spirit of the living harmory with nature.