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Marrying the step mother has an economic consideration in that, had the step-mothers been obliged to return to their parent’s home, the movable property of the late father would have been divided and a share given to each step-mother which would then have gone to the parent’s home of the step-mothers. This would weaken the economic position of the family. In addition, a wife as a farm laborer is a great asset to any Naga and hence, the greater the number of wives, the larger the availability of free farm laborers to the family. In view of the role of home economics in the marriage with the step-mothers, it is quite possible that this practice is a late innovation, particularly because polygon is practiced only by the well-to-do Semas including the village chiefs. The kinship terms of the Semas offer an additional clue to this opinion, in that the marriage with one’s step-mother is not reflected in the Sema kinship terms, whereas marriage with one’s wife’s sister or elder brother’s wife is reflected in the Sema kinship terms.

The most compelling point in favor of Hutton’s view is that in a patriarchal society, on marriage the woman severs the relations with her parents by becoming a part of the husband’s family, whether or not the husband is alive, whereas in a matriarchal society, the women even after marriage continue to be part of their original parents family and on the death of their husbands, return to their parent’s home. In this respect the position of the Sema women is nearly on par with that of the other matriarchal societies.

1.4.3. Religious belief

Almost one half of the Sema population, particularly in the rural areas, still practice animism. What is notable is that within the same family, the parents may practice animism and the children may practice Christianity. Education, however, is prevalent mostly amongst the Christians. Conversion to Christianity has not made much deep impact on their social life. Most of the pre-Christian rituals and festivals are still practiced in one form or the other. Unlike the neighboring Ao area (Mokokchung district), the boys and the girls in the Sema villages still assemble in the evenings to sing Sema folk songs. The two customs where the Christianity had made an impact are: the dis-continuance of brewing rice beer and bigamous marriage. Due to this prohibition on rice beer Semas have turned to run and other bottled liquor which are not only expensive but also have no intrinsic value like rice beer which is a healthy substance. While the second generation converts practice monogamy, the first generation converts have not completely given up bigamy.

Elwin (1964) while referring to the impact of the Christian religion over the Nagas, states that `It is a pity that the American Baptist Mission had little sympathy with the aims of the Government, even less appreciates the valuable elements of Naga culture. Many of its aspects conflict in no way with the principles of Christianity. And I believe that some of the old festivals could have been adopted to the new faith, given a new meaning and retained by the Christian communities. There seem to be no reason why at the first sowing or at the harvest, the Christians should not pray for the prosperity of their crops... It may be that with a little more understanding and sympathy for the Naga culture, they might have brought more happiness to their flock and avoided many of the more unfortunate results of a sudden clash of cultures’. Things are not that bad with the Sema communty. Despite conversion to Christianity, they practice most of the old gannas`rituals’ and they still adore to sing the folk songs regularly. In this connection, Haimendorf’s reference to an instance from the Konyak area is relevant. According to Haimendorf (1973:5)1. “The Christian influence on Wakching has remained superficial and some of the most articulate men tole me that they had given up their old religion without becoming properly Christian. . . . . It is characteristic of the tolerance of the Nagas in the matter of religious belief that when the Christians of the Watching wanted to build a church on a prominent site overlooking the whole village their pagan co-villagers helped them with the construction of the building. . . . Despite the change in political outlook and religious belief and practice, the daily routine of the Konyak village such as Wakching has remained very similar to what it was a generation age”.

1.4.4. Clan practices
Almost all the Naga communities are sub-divided into a few clans. And in all such instances, the clan is an exogamous unit. Many a time, a clan may be further divided into sub-clans, in which case the sub-clan might be an exogamous unit, as is the case with the Lothas. And in the case of the Aos, the exogamous unit is larger than a Clan, in that one could select his/her spouse only from certain specified Clans and not from any other Clan. The belief is that certain Clans have greater affinity in terms of the common ancestor than the others. The Clan practices had a role







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