Head Hunters

                                        Finding Peace in God

One of the last frontiers until 1970, Longwa of Nagaland, nestles in the border of India and Myanmar. Konyaks or headhunters as their name begins were warriors dreaded for their ruthless and vengeful savagery.

A day in early 1950 that set out to be any other day, shaped the landscape of Longwa which witnessed a fearsome battle that lasted for more than a decade. All started with the killing of a man, reason unknown, which triggered panic throughout the mountainous region of North East India. Firm in resolve, each man of Longwa took deep vows of revenge to wipe out the entire neighboring village.

Attacking during the day and hiding in the forest at night, the men orchestrated their kills on whoever came into their field of vision; man, woman, and even children.

Joy erupted throughout the village when the warriors returned home with severed heads of the enemies. Decorated with tattoos by the Queen herself, such man ranked higher amongst comrades and were celebrated as heroes among fellow men and women. Not only did a decorated man steal the show but also emerged as a potential partner in the eyes of several women. A man without a kill was not a man worthy enough to marry.

Soon, the glory of these decorated warriors became the tradition. Rampant killing became the norm even after the enmity between the villages had ceased upon surrendering. The collection of heads and the obsession of getting the highest honor in the form of tattoos became the new game among the Konyak men.

 

What followed after a decade of killing was fear. The pervasive fear of being killed unawares at any place; The fear of losing a loved one any time. This is when, a few men from the group started to look beyond, to put an end to their ideology. They sought cloth to cover their naked bodies and safe homes for their children to grow up non-violent.

The Sign of the Cross, foreign to the land, seemed the ideal choice as their neighboring villages also adopted the same. Some resisted and some persisted. 40 years later since Christianity, much effort was put in order to bring the next generation as God-fearing and condemn any animosity amongst each other. With education, their children and grand-children are slowly catching up with the modern world; bringing both progress and prosperity. With a strong faith in Christ, they regret their past and with full trust, in this generation, they hope for a forgiving future.