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The Lhota Nagas

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J. P. Mills
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I am happy in thinking that not only have Mr. Mills' efforts in investigating the customs and beliefs of the Lhota tribe succeeded in putting them on record while there was yet time, but they have also incidentally contributed not a little to revivify their observance. For there is no ques tion but that they had begun to lose their hold. The prohibition of head — hunting alone was bound to act in that direction. In one small and decaying village (lisio) Mr. Mills found that there had been no Putin}, and therefore presumably no communal ceremonies, for twenty years. There is now a Path and the ceremonial life of the village has acquired fresh vigour, and I have some hopes that the decay that had set in may be thereby staved off, for it cannot contribute to healthy life to be deprived entirely of all public and communal ceremonies, and to revive them may do good. Again, at Okotso, when I first knew it, about a third of the village had turned Christian the remainder, having Observed that no immediate disaster seemed to follow the forsaking of ancestral customs, but being in no wise desirous to take up the burden of the angel of the Church of Impur, who looks with disapproval on tobacco and the national dress and insists on total prohibition as regards fermented liquor, had lapsed into a spiritual limbo in which they observed no religious customs at all. The morungs had fallen into decay and the young men would not take the trouble to renew them; the village ceremonies, if observed at all, were Observed in the most perfunctory manner, and the community as a whole took neither part nor interest, giving at best an apathetic conformity not perhaps entirely unparalleled in modern Britain. How far it is due to Mr. Mills' interest in Lhota custom I do not know, but the non — Christian population of Okotso has cer tainly reformed, rebuilt its morungs, and re-instituted the Oyantsoa in its fullness.

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