Rani Gaidinliu : Her Role in Strengthening Naga Women
By Tasile N. Zeliang
Naga society is an open society. Men and women are equal partner in wealth and smooth administration in the family. It is a nucleus family wherein a son got separated from their parents after marriage while a daughter goes with her husband after marriage. It is a patriarchal society wherein father earns livelihood and mother runs the management of the family. The mother plays significant role in major decisions pertaining to the family.
Traditionally, the social institutions and village administration were manned by men only. Even Pujari institution was generally handled by men folk. The women were far behind men in politics. Now also, there are no women MLA in Nagaland Assembly today. The number of women in government and private jobs is comparatively very less. Rani Ma- a great visionary and God-gifted divine person understood the significant role of women in building of strong Naga society.
After assassination of Haipou Jadonang on 29th August 1931 at Imphal by cruel white rulers, the leadership of Freedom Movement falls on the shoulders of Rani Ma – then young girl of 17. She travelled length and breadth of Zeliangrong area, now scattered in all the three states of Manipur, Nagaland and Assam. She visited all the major villages of Zeliangrong community and re-organized the Freedom army. She strengthened the Freedom Army; acquired rifles and lethal weapons for her jawans and imparted rigorous military training.
Understanding the enormous energy in the women wing of human society, Rani Ma made up her mind to establish – Mahila Battalion (Women Battalion) in her Army. She collected the courageous girls of her age, gave a collective rigorous training to all of them, and whom she found brave, and recruited them in the fighting battalion. Those trainee girls, who were good in rendering service and supply, were recruited in supply division of the army and those who were good in art and culture were entrusted with the work of rejuvenation of folk song and folk culture. The night Assembly of artists, singers and folk dancers from men and women were regular feature of her activity which provided womenfolk of Naga society as great encouragement and boost for greater exposure of talents and skills of women in managing the family and social affairs of the society.
The Mahila Battalion of her Army under her command was a force to reckon with and a force most feared of. It was a great example and an ideal precedent put forth by Rani Ma that ladies too could catch hold of lethal weapons and defeat the enemy forces. She herself was a role-model for her brave Mahila Battalion. When she appeared in warrior attire with rifle in her hand in front of her Mahila Battalion in particular and her Jawans in general, a current of enormous energy used to run fast in the veins and arteries of everybody present on the scene. Her vociferous speeches poured life even in most passive persons. These made the Jawans to sacrifice everything for the freedom of the country from the British folk.
The Britishers implanted Christian Missionaries to convert her followers and thereby weaken the freedom fight. Rani Ma educated the younger generation particularly the women folk to be fully aware of the conspiracy hatched by the church. The women folk of the Naga society were most venerable to church conspiracy because of biological reasons. To prevent and protect women folk from missionary menace, Rani Ma evolved several methods to counter the conspiracy of church. Firstly, she established Mahila Battalion and instilled the energy to take up arms against anybody who wanted to suppress and snatch away the God-gifted freedom of nation, society and individuals particularly of women folk of the society. Secondly, she composed warrior song, devotional songs, love songs and songs pertaining to various rituals and rites. She taught the youths and then popularized in every strata of the society. She evolved different forms of folk dances wherein role of women folk is unavoidable.
While doing all these reformation activities in Naga society, Rani Ma was extremely conscious of self-discipline, hard work and righteousness in women folk in particular and every society in general. She could realize that mother is the nucleus of the family. She also visualized that the mother as the centre of attraction in the family and the society. Because of this realization, Rani Ma gave much emphasis on economic independence of women folk. During those days, there were no market systems every family was mostly self-dependent and self-contented. Rani Ma taught the weaving and knitting of traditional clothes and garments to promising Naga girls who could earn good amount for sustenance of their daily needs. By doing all these activities directed towards the better exposure of women folk in the field of education, farming, weaving and knitting, folk dance and folk song and so also in armed revolution, Rani Ma created women leadership in the field of management, education and even in guerrilla war.
Rani Ma’s fight for the freedom of the country from the British rule is a unique in more than one way far away from the influence and encouragement from freedom movement in mainland Bharatvarsh. Rani Ma spear- headed the revolution at her own which put her in the first row of all the revolutionaries in the country. Her role- model has encouraged millions of women throughout northeast and whole of the country to think positively, act decisively and achieve highest place of honour in the human society.
With this message and mind, she toured whole of the country and awakened the women folks. She attended second world Hindu Conference on 25, 26, 27 January 1979 at Prayagraj (Allahabad) at covalence of Ganga-Yamuna and Saraswati rivers. From the rampart of manch, She gave a clarion call to all the women folk to come forward and contribute their might in ‘nation building job’ of the society. She wrote a long letter to President of Bharat in support of ‘Freedom of Religion Bill 1978’. In addition to these, Rani Ma supported and reciprocated in befitting manner every call given by the national interests.
In recognition to her services to the nation, Government of Bharat awarded her Tamrapatra in 1972 and Padma Bhushan in 1982, She was also awarded Vivekanand Sewa Samman by Bada Bazaar Kumar Sabha Kolkatta. The Post department of Government of Bharat published a Postal stamp to commemorate her memory.
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