Kolmapäeval, 25. oktoobril 2017, kell 18:15
Talilula Longchar (TÜ väliskülalisüliõpilane, Jamia Millia Islamia ülikooli doktorant, India)
Discursive Frames of Representation: Exploring the Transitions of the Comic Tradition of Wawa Menü through the Prism of Christianity
The advent of British administrative interest and American missionaries in Naga Hills in present North East India during the 19th century is historically important because of the significant transformations that ensued in Naga society post their arrival. Christianity in particular set into momentum a series of transformations that completely dismantled life as they knew for the Nagas. It is within this framework of religious transformation that I will talk about Wawa Menü, a comic tradition practiced by the Ao indigenous community, who were also the first among the Nagas to convert to Christianity in 1872.
Perspectives on Wawa Menü are varied among the community. Elderly resource persons remember Wawa Menü as a time of leisure and laughter through exchanges of jokes, limericks, innuendo-laced singing and duels that involved copious amounts of rice beer. In contemporary times, Wawa Menü has transformed remarkably as comic performances for celebratory occasions in churches as well as secular events. While Christianity’s advent among the Aos and Nagas as a whole has been credited with bringing literacy, civilization and modernity , it also undermined the indigenous system of beliefs and traditions. Proselytization within the Ao context operated on prohibitions and censorships with regard to indigenous traditions from head-hunting to folk singing. At the same time, there were exchanges between indigenous practices and Christian beliefs. Wawa Menü transitioned from being a performing tradition that was rooted in the everyday reality of the agrarian Aos into the religious space of the church that also incorporated the aesthetics of conventional western theatre and at present is involved in unshackling itself from the influence of the church.