Poems from MARY’S GARDEN by Ian McDonald

6.  Praise Song For Mary

Rounded

From Mary’s Garden

O of love

boon of heaven

heavy-looking now

birth soon to come

I celebrate the joy

beauty of body-swell

oval paradisal

proud miracle

I celebrate

all soft and circling forms

earth-root flower

the golden pregnant moon

showers shadows

call-glory of carols

bowls of ripe oranges

rose mangoes full plums too

stuffed sweet melons

rotund sun-ball in the sky

fat cloud-bellies sailing

in looms and loops of light

smoke-mist over water 

rain curves on river

ocean-swoops billows

roses pools of moon-water

home home home

hollows look hallowed

they are the kin of hoops

fat loaves – 

hot bounty

from old stoves

noontime and swallows

arcs of light

you are buoyant with becoming

a fountain

a meteor shower

flower-bloom

my burgeoning love

rock and cradling stars

in your belly-dark

time booms

and throb and towers

life starts again

I hear the double-heart

that God made with me

and you will make me soon 

a high-shining son.

26. 35th Anniversary

I found my wife crying.

What had happened, what sadness had come

upon her? Not long before I had embraced

her, said how much I loved her. Life is good;

you make it good, my love. Talked about our

children’s children for a while and she smiled,

squeezed my hand by the kitchen door. Join me

in the garden when you are done; there’s a poem

I want to read to you. She was late coming

to me, said, I cannot bear the thought

I grow cold as death, I cannot bear the thought

there will come a day…

I held her close, close as I could.

Poems from The Garden by Ian McDonald

28. Bougainvillea

throw of red

against the wall

bougainvillea abloom

shouts of colour

joy of children

phagwah in the garden.

Photo: Jamie McDonald

102. Hibiscus

Cold in the night wind, alone in the crowded stars,

counted one hundred hibiscus in the garden,

everyone beautiful. One day’s light they last,

adorn the world and are gone. Eight years

the same — at least it seems so at the end.

Photo: Jamie McDonald

Ian McDonald: Author Profile

Born in Trinidad, West Indies, Ian was educated at Queens Royal College and Cambridge University. His career has spanned several decades in a variety of fields: Business, Sports and Literature. Ian is the recipient of Guyana’s Golden Arrow Of Achievement. The University of the West Indies in 1997 awarded him honorary Doctorate Of

Letters. He has been a Fellow of The Royal Society Of Literature since 1970. He has written extensively on cricket. In addition to writing poetry and prose, Ian has edited and co-edited numerous collections and anthologies. His novel The Hummingbird Tree(1969) was made into a BBC film. He won the Guyana Prize for Literature — Poetry three times: in 1992, 2004 and 2012 and has published seven poetry collections in addition to short stories and two collections of essays and speeches. He continues to write on cricket and poetry and several publications are in the works.


PUBLICATIONS

        FICTION

  • The Hummingbird Tree (1969 )

        POETRY

  • Mercy Ward ( 1988 )
  • Essequibo ( 1992 )
  • Jaffo The Calypsonian ( 1994 )
  • Between Silence And Silence ( 2003 )
  • The Comfort Of All Things ( 2012  
  • River Dancer ( 2016 )
  • People Of Guyana (with Peter Jailall) (2018)
  • New and Collected Poems (2018)

           DRAMA

  • Tramping Man ( 1969 )

            NON-FICTION 

  • A Cloud Of Witnesses ( 2012 )
  • A Love Of Poetry ( 2013 )

EDITED

  • Selected Poems of Martin Carter (1989)
  • Collected Poems of A.J. Seymour (with J. de Weever) (2000)

ANTHOLOGY (with Stewart Brown)

  • The Bowling Was Super Fine — West Indian Cricket Writing (2012)

The Freight Train: by Dave Moores

Excerpt from his best selling novel ATTITUDE.

Published by MiddleRoad Publishers

http://www.middleroadpublishers.ca

Lyle desperately needs to find Laura. Her best friend Darlene may know something. She’s at volleyball practice

Lyle couldn’t bear to wait on this any longer. During the phone calls, horrid visions of what might be happening to Laura kept surfacing. He tried to push them aside but they wouldn’t go away. Idiot! How could he have wasted a whole afternoon hanging out at Garth’s? The need to know if Laura was alright had become a fire alarm jangling in his head.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 Volleyball practice for the Southmead Storm girls’ rep team would be at the school gym. Mom wouldn’t take him, no point asking. He’d have to ride his bike. Really, dipshit,? Three kilometres on snow-covered roads? Walk instead? It was already past seven and he needed to get there. So it was bike or nothing.

Lyle shrugged on the parka and mitts he wore for mornings waiting on the school bus in the frigid darkness. He headed for the back door. “Mom, gotta go out, forget supper,” he yelled, slammed the door without waiting for an answer, ran to the garage and grabbed his bike. 

Dad had got it for him, a mountain bike with knobbly tires, not long before he went away. It could handle the winter roads in a pinch, but was hardly ideal transport at this hour, lacking lights.

A bitter night, no wind for once. No moon either. Instead, an endless canopy of stars, enough to light the way as Lyle’s eyes adjusted. The spectacle caught his attention and brought to mind a TV program about galaxies and the Big Bang and stuff. Here it all was, right there above him, and for a moment the reality of it was almost scary. Here he was, biking across the flatlands by the light of a billion suns. Sorta awesome, he’d have to tell Garth about it, the little nerd got off on that kind of thing. Then images of Laura being used by Brad and Mitch returned and eclipsed the majesty of the Universe.

A couple of vehicles passed going his way but nobody stopped to offer a ride. Which they could have, a pickup and an SUV after all. Lyle didn’t care, he could do this, was going to do this. A hard knot of purpose had formed. Wheeling through the freezing darkness, he’d embraced a mission. The women he cared about needed help and he would find a way to bring it. And right then, his distress about being the not-totally-up-to-the-task younger brother fell away, no longer shadowing him like an unwelcome revenant. It felt strange, yet free, and he pedalled on.

The deep insistent drumming of a locomotive sounded across the fields. Lyle approached the railway crossing. His leg muscles had begun to burn but time was short and the approaching train would be one of those mile-long freights that took forever to pass. He stood up on the pedals and made all deliberate speed toward the tracks. The air started vibrating.

No problem, he’d make it with a good hundred meters to spare. He sped up to the crossing, the locomotive’s siren deep and urgent in his ears. The barriers had come down and the red lights flashed a warning. No problem again, a quick zig around the barriers and he’d be by. 

The train’s headlight was a staring white eye getting big. The bike’s front wheel hit a skim of ice and Lyle slammed down hard, sprawling. The siren sounded staccato, urgent blasts. Lyle’s left leg got hooked through the bike’s frame and it was taking way too long to drag it free. The train had become a child’s nightmare monster bent on ending his life but in the final panicked moments Lyle managed to free his leg and scrabble, like some crabwise crawling thing, across the last rail. He barely had time to twist around and watch the locomotive thunder past, shaking the ground.

Every part of him felt like jello. His leg hurt bad. Freight cars rumbled by, that close, stirring up gusts of cold air. The bike was gone.


On the yacht Jackdaw. There’s a storm coming.

Extract from the novel WINDWARD LEGS. Copyright Dave Moores and Middleroad Publishers.

A flick of lightning lanced down in the middle distance. Oh, here we go, Alice said to herself. She felt a clutch in her stomach.  No use wishing they were safely tied to the dock. This thing was coming for them and would arrive long before they could make harbour.

“You all saw that, right?” she said. “We’re only a couple of minutes from the windward mark and then we’ll be heading back towards the shore anyway. I suggest we keep racing, but if anyone wants to turn around right now, just say, and we will. No discussion.” So strongly did she believe this that she didn’t even consider asking Mr O.

They turned to him anyway. He stared right back.

Photo by Darius Krause on Pexels.com

“Your skipper asked you a question, why are you looking at me?” 

Thanks Mr O, she thought, much appreciated.

“I’m good,” said Marcus.

“I’m good,” said Derek.

“Go for it, we’re good here,” called Joss, from the rail. Teenagers: immortal of course.

She had one last question. “If it gets crazy, which sail do we drop first on these boats?” 

“The jib for sure.” answered Mr O, as they arrived at the windward mark.

Once around it, Jackdaw was sailing downwind with the mainsail out to one side as far as it would go, the wind pushing them from behind. 

The storm swept in fast, really fast. Spooky-looking skeins of pale cloud rolled in beneath the darkening overcast. A draft of chilled air felt like somebody opening a freezer door. Lightning strobed in the clouds, making deep booms Alice could feel in her chest. So far the wind was manageable, gusts showing up to thirty knots on the display. You’d have to be crazy to even think about hoisting the spinnaker.

Back at the mark, Tomahawk rounded with Fang right behind. Tomahawk was trying to reef his mainsail, a tough go with the boom way out to the side. The crew were screaming at each other and the sail flapped like crazy. Then the wind exploded it with a crack like gunfire, leaving shards of sailcloth fluttering from the mast. 

“He should’a done it when we did, you were right!” shouted Derek over the roaring wind and rush of water past the hull. 

 The tiller was kicking and pulling in Alice’s hand as Jackdaw careered along, rolling from side to side and barely under control. It was hard work, like driving a car without power steering. 

“Chas, can you come down?” she called, “I need a hand on the helm here.” She wasn’t sure why she’d chosen him, could be the smiley face and the mop of straw-coloured curls. It was tight quarters in her little steerer’s cockpit and he had to squeeze in next to her. She noticed the heft and warmth of his hard young man’s body. 

“Follow my movements, okay?” He gave a nod and a thumbs up and in seconds they had it together. They were side-by-side, he had an arm around her waist to brace them, and the other hand on the tiller next to hers. They weren’t fighting each other for control and it felt as if he knew her movements before she made them. She turned to gaze into his earnest young face. “You’ve sailed with a tiller before, right? I can tell.”

“A few times, yeh.” 

Good boy, more than a few, she suspected.

READ MORE OF THIS IN Dave Moores’ BOOK WINDWARD LEGS

Dave Moores: Author profile

Dave Moores

Raised in Bristol, UK, Dave Moores secured  a place at Cambridge University where he took a degree in Philosophy. Since prospects for a lucrative career as a philosopher were non-existent, Dave’s interests quickly took a hard turn away from liberal arts to technology, resulting in a Diploma in Electronic Engineering from British Aerospace College. His inclination to write was sparked soon after by a short story contest in the industry journal Airframe. The entry, a science-fiction piece, didn’t win but received publication.

Marriage, the arrival of offspring and, in due course, migration to Canada, took writing off the table. Along the way, Dave’s career spanned the domain of information technology, culminating in the position of Chief Systems Architect in a major high-Tech corporation.

Dave has long enjoyed a passion for competitive sailboat racing. One evening after a race, his crew of spirited ladies suggested he write a story based on their adventures and personal anecdotes. The writing gene was reactivated and the result was Windward Legs, set in the sailing milieu of Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe and much enjoyed by the sailing crowd.

Dave’s preference, both in reading and writing, favours narratives that keep the pages turning. He’s a big believer in one of Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules for Writers: If it sounds like “Writing,” rewrite it.

Dave’s novel Attitude, a Young Adult story is published by Middleroad Publishers. His third, Sparkles and Karim, set in Iraq during the ISIS incursions, is coming along.

Dave lives in Oakville, Ontario with his wife Chris. 

Dave Moores is the author of:

Windward Legs (2021)

Touch and Go. Short Short by Dave Moores

by Dave Moores

Dave Moores is the author of Attitude and Windward Legs. Both published thorough MiddleRoad Publishers.

The grassy pathway before me descended into an empty valley. Pretty summer clouds graced the sky, the day was bright, and the air carried the scent of fresh-cut hay. I had no notion of my purpose here and strangely this did not concern me.

An odd little man appeared at my side. His face displayed the lines and papery pallor of advanced age. He was formally clad in black, a cloth jacket over a white shirt and black tie. On his head,  a bowler hat. He carried a walking cane and wore unexpected black shorts. The ensemble was completed by dress shoes and socks, black as well—hardly appropriate for a ramble in the countryside. When he spoke his voice was surprisingly clear, the accent and diction refined. “Come along, we have to get below right away.” He beckoned to me and set off down the path with a nimble gait. I felt compelled to follow.

Photo by Thgusstavo Santana on Pexels.com

A single-track railway line came into view. Strange again, that I had not observed it sooner. My guide pressed on and our path turned left beside the track. Around a bend we came upon a small structure having the appearance of a shed. I recognized it as what used to be called a halt, not exactly a station but a place where a local train might pause for passengers to alight or embark. We drew near and climbed weathered wooden steps to a sheltered platform.

The man consulted a timetable displayed in a glass-fronted case. He checked a pocket-watch and gave a satisfied nod. “You won’t have to wait long. Five minutes, it’s always on time.” For reasons I can’t explain, I still felt no curiosity, merely a sense of anticipation. I have always enjoyed train-rides. We seated ourselves on a bench. 

The hoot of a train-whistle was followed by the rumble of wheels. A small steam locomotive puffed into sight pulling a couple of carriages. The sight recalled childhood day trips to the seaside with my parents. The train pulled in with a hiss of steam and gentle grinding of brakes.

We got to our feet. The man reached for a door handle. “Farewell, the train will take you where you need to go.” He handed me a business card which I pocketed as I boarded. There were no other passengers.

As the train moved off, a nagging sense of unmet obligations replaced anticipation. Had I failed to make a payment, or missed a crucial appointment? I searched my memory in vain.

Miles went by and the day darkened. Landscape passing the windows turned to wild moorland and sombre woods. My unease deepened to fear, but fear of what, I still had no idea. Who was this person who’d put me here, anyway? I reached into my pocket and withdrew the business card. The name read “Sebastian Angelo D’Eath.”

Angel of . . ?  

I awoke to a beeping sound. Two paramedics stood over me. One held something against my chest. He let out a breath and gave me a smile. “Touch and go for a minute there. Thought we’d lost you.”

The Myth of Methadone Maintenance Therapy (MMT) by Franklin Mohan

Dr. Frank Mohan, MD, FCFP(LM), CCFP, BA, BEd.

Former Adjunct Professor, (Retired) Department of Family Medicine, University of Western Ontario.

What is addiction?

According to CAMH, Canada, 

One simple way of describing addiction is the presence of the 4 Cs:

  • Craving
  • loss of Control of amount or frequency of use
  • Compulsion to use
  • use despite Consequences.

Think of craving a substance such as an opiate or alcohol as equivalent to the urgency of having to defecate when there are no facilities available. The urge for relief is so great, one can find oneself attempting behavior not considered socially acceptable, like heading to a bush in a city park, behind a dumpster downtown, or even between two cars in a parking lot. The desire for an opiate in addicts is not so much as for a “high” but a desire to avoid withdrawals. A dose of an opiate rids the body and mind of that desire. Consequently, an opiate addict will engage in socially unacceptable behavior to acquire the next “fix” such as stealing, stealing from parents and friends, robbing, selling drugs to pay for one’s own addiction and these behaviors consequently lead to legal problems.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

There is a myth that a drug addict is a homeless, vagabond consuming drugs downtown, injecting and discarding needles in back alleys. Sure, there are some that engage in this kind of behavior. However, in a typical addictions clinic, the majority of clients are so-called middle and upper class persons, sons and daughters of professionals, business people and gainfully employed in business and the trades.

All opioids are chemically related to opiates. Opiates are derived from opium. Addiction to opioids has effects common to that of opium: lack of self-care, sense of responsibility, socially unsuccessful, reduced interest in family, jobs and education. The victim is driven to acquire opioids at all costs with the consequent legal repercussions.

It is difficult to reason with an addict.

When one tries to stop opioids, the withdrawals that occur involves:

  1. Physical symptoms (lasts roughly 5 – 6 days)
  2. Psychological symptoms (lasts 2 years or more)

Opioids muddle the mind and reasoning is impaired. Co morbidities like depression, bipolar disease, ADHD, OCD are exacerbated.

Methadone is also an opioid (synthetic). Why then is it used in the treatment of an opioid addict? Isn’t one opioid being replaced by another? 

The Answer: (derived from evidence based studies)

Methadone is an opioid that doesn’t muddle the mind. There is no ‘buzz’ from Methadone. Once an addict is off all other opioids and is on Methadone, she is able to rejoin society, becomes interested in self-care, jobs, education, stoppage of illegal activities and resumes familial obligations. 

Judson et al. 2010, recruited 160 patients, 84 stable methadone patients and 76 unstable. When assessed on 22 factors indicating positive social functioning, stable patients achieved a statistically significant level of success. Interestingly, the 76 unstable, demonstrated a measurable level of success as well.

Multiple peer reviewed works have shown that if an addict is not on treatment after the initial physical illness of withdrawal then there is a 96% chance that he will drift back into using within 6 months.

Methadone is used for a minimum of 2 – 3 years during the ‘psychological withdrawal period’ during which it allows the patient to realize social success. Those who had been using for more than 2 years, may have to be on MMT for many more years before tapering off. Relapse is a possibility as addiction is a life-long disease.

The MMT program is supervised by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO). The rules are rigidly adhered to and so being a MMT patient is very restrictive. In order to commit to MMT, a patient must be motivated in order to attend appointments weekly, observed by the pharmacy staff taking their daily dose, provide urine samples weekly under video surveillance, attend psychiatrist appointments, and have to have special arrangements for going out of town. 

Therefore, it is the addicts not in treatment that must be viewed with a jaundiced eye, and a feather in the cap given to those in MMT treatment.

Dr. F. Mohan MD, FCFP(LM).

20July 2021

Woven Together by Cherry Narula

Worldwide, there are over 476 million Indigenous peoples in more than 90 countries, representing 5,000 different cultures who speak a majority of the world’s estimated 7,000 language. These diverse and dynamic societies maintain the traditions of the original culture of their region. 

“International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples” is commemorated on August 9th every year to raise awareness of the needs of these people. Despite practicing unique and varied cultures, many of their problems are similar and their traditional lifestyle has been a source of resilience in this journey of seeking recognition for their way of life and their identities. 

Photo by Follow Alice on Pexels.com

Indigenous peoples consider nature sacred and know how to take care of it. Their deep respect for nature sustains ways of life that enhance knowledge of nature conservation and use of natural resources. Indigenous perspectives can aid conservation efforts and increase biodiversity sustainment through traditional practices. These practices are also essential to ensure that species survive and thrive. It is key to understand and recognise Indigenous relationships to the environment by learning and working together in preservation efforts. Indigenous communities are ideal custodians of ecosystems and are vital for a better world. 

Throughout history, Indigenous peoples have been subjected to violations of their rights and as the United Nations and governments worldwide work towards restoring the rights of Indigenous peoples, we can help by appreciating and recognising their culture and wisdom. Each of the 5,000 diverse Indigenous cultures worldwide have their own unique history and traditions. In British Columbia alone there are over 200 First Nation communities, each one having its own uniquely diverse culture and language. Canada is home to about 1.7 million Indigenous peoples. Similarly, in another part of the world, in India there are over 104 million Indigenous peoples. While appreciating the fabric of two diverse cultures in two different continents, there is an impression of a weave running through one end of the world to the other. Despite being culturally distinct societies and communities, a common spirit of shared values becomes evident frequently.

In North America, Coast Salish peoples are a grouping of Indigenous peoples with several different cultures and languages and their dynamic and diverse culture includes a number of First Nations who are inextricably bound to land and natural resources. This connection also constitutes the basis of the physical and spiritual well-being of people who have mostly lived in the territories along the Northwest Pacific Coast comprising of parts of Washington and Oregon states in the United States and the province of British Columbia in Canada. In British Columbia, this includes the ecologically diverse Strait of Georgia, Puget Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca, also known as the Salish sea. The Strait of Georgia itself is one of the world’s most biologically productive marine ecosystems having a large variety of marine habitats that support about 3,000 species of marine life, making the Coast Salish fisheries well known across the globe.

Photo by Ganta Srinivas on Pexels.com

Historically, Coast Salish peoples have lived in permanent villages during the winter and in temporary camps in the summer while gathering food. They are well known for their beautiful and unique art—their creations centered on story-telling and spirituality. They use Totem poles as a traditional way of telling their stories by commemorating family history, ancestry, or events, and these are mostly carved out of red cedar and painted in vibrant colours. Totem poles come alive when the stories related to their crests are known and the crests tell the story of the family to whom they belong. These stories serve to document important events and family histories. Wealthy families may have more than one crest to mark the family’s lineage. Traditionally, Coast Salish peoples have also carved house posts to feature animals and spiritual beings—the carved planks used both on the interior and exterior of their ceremonial houses. The artistic life of the Coast Salish peoples brings to life sculptures, paintings, robes, blankets, and woven baskets. 

Salish culture is renowned for the art of weaving and the use of the spindle whorl. The womenfolk are responsible for making blankets and girls train with their grandmothers at a very young age to carry on the legacy. They are renowned skilled weavers of the Pacific Northwest, famous for their beautiful twill blankets. Salish blankets were used as currency to purchase goods and were given to other villages as a sign of prosperity of the community or individual presenting it. These were also presented to honour members of the community. These are still used as a mark of status and protection in ceremonies. Salish blankets are considered protective garments of powerful spiritual significance, offering focus and strength during life changing events. 

The Coast Salish spindle whorls are known for their exceptional carved geometric, human, or animal designs. The loom is made of two vertical posts supported by two horizontal bars. The blankets are woven on those bars. The vertical posts are used for making adjustments and variations. Coast Salish peoples have used weaving materials found locally, such as cedar bark, willow bark, nettle fibre, milkweed fibre, mountain goat’s wool, and woolly dog’s hair. Shredded cedar bark twisted with wool of mountain goats has been used to form the warp. Their legacy includes twined mountain goat wool robes, twill-plaited blankets in geometric designs made of goat wool, cattail fluff, as well as dog wool sheared from small woolly dogs. Salish wool was mostly created by mixing goat and dog wool. The white wool of the mountain goat is the most revered fibre for Coast Salish peoples. The mountain goat is considered the purest of all animals since it lives in remote areas with a proximity to the sky. However, these days, domestic sheep wool is mostly used by Coast Salish weavers. 

Weaving cattail mats and baskets were also an important part of daily life. Women sewed cattail leaves together to make large mats used for shelters, dividers, insulation, kneeling pads, and sleeping mats. Similarly, baskets were used in almost every area of daily life. Coiled, twined, or plaited baskets were used for regular household chores. Baskets were used for gathering, storing, and preparing food, storing household goods, transporting objects, and protecting infants. Coiled baskets made of cedar roots were tight enough to boil soups. Twined baskets made of materials that include cattail leaves, spruce roots and cedar bark were more pliable and softer than coiled baskets. Utility baskets were mostly made of split cedar bark and grass by both plaiting and twining techniques. Some baskets were decorated with motifs and geometric patterns made from materials such as dyed cedar bark, bear grass, or horsetail rhizomes. Painted designs also decorated some baskets on the outside. Colours and dyes were created from plants and natural mineral sources.

On the other side of the world, in Asia, the Indigenous peoples of the mountain frontier between India and Burma are called Nagas. They belong to about 66 different tribes that have a population of approximately 3.5 million. Nagas constitute various ethnic groups that are native to northeastern India and northwestern Myanmar. In India, Naga tribes reside in the northeastern states of Nagaland, Manipur, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh. Traditionally, Nagas established their settlements on hilltops and mountains to defend themselves from neighbouring tribes. The Naga villages were designed to be self-sufficient and secure and they have a great understanding of the wildlife that surrounds them. Their legends depict humans and animals exchanging roles and providing for one another and this interrelationship with the animal world is reflected in the Naga artwork. 

Majority of the Naga tribes call Nagaland home where about 2 million Nagas belonging to sixteen major tribes live. The Nagas believe in the oneness and harmony with their environment. 

Nagaland is primarily a mountainous state with the Naga Hills emerging from the Brahmaputra valley in Assam. The tributaries of one of the world’s largest rivers, the Brahmaputra, criss-crosses the terrain. This land is rich in rain forests with unique flora and fauna. The evergreen tropical and sub-tropical forests have a rich foliage of bamboo, palm, rattan, timber, and mahogany forests with more than 490 species of birds and 396 species of orchids out of which some have importance for horticultural and medicinal purposes. Nagaland also has an abundance of natural stone and mineral reserves such as marble, limestone, chromium, coal, cobalt, iron, and nickel. This terrain is a part of a complex mountain system that has been declared a National Geological Monument of India.

Nagaland is also known for its terraced paddy fields. Naga tribes still carve the hillsides by hand, using their traditional methods. The Indigenous system of paddy cultivation has been used to bring back to life deserted barren fields. A network of water channels irrigates the paddy terraces, with bamboo pipes being used at times to regulate the water flow. This terraced paddy cultivation, hand carved on hillsides, is a great visual treat. Jute and cotton are also commonly cultivated to complement the rich Naga tradition of art and craft. Weaving is a traditional art of the Nagas that has been handed down through generations. The art of weaving and wearing the traditional dress is linked to several diverse traditions and beliefs. The colour combination, pattern and design symbolise a specific tribe and status in society. Each Naga tribe has its unique textile heritage with distinct motifs and designs.

The Nagas are best known for their shawls. The traditional use of yarn and natural dyes makes the Naga textiles unique. The women folk mostly are engaged in the spinning of textiles. Little girls can be seen experimenting with weaving while playing with toy looms. In these remote misty mountains, Naga women can still be seen on the hillsides using their traditional backstrap looms. The Naga loom is a simple backstrap loom, also called the lion loom that is adjustable to the body of the weaver. The lion loom is a simple, low-cost, portable loom that uses two parallel bamboos to stretch the warp yarn. One end is fixed to a post or wall and the other end is held steady by a strap around the waist of the weaver. Weaving techniques have been perfected over the centuries to allow a single weaver to weave wider fabrics in less time. This led to the creation of the fly shuttle loom to weave wider fabrics in larger quantities. Traditional shawl weaving is still done on the lion looms while fabrics are woven on the fly shuttle loom. Natural dyes extracted from plants, barks, and roots are used for textile dyeing.

Another distinctive Naga craft is the bamboo craft. Bamboo is extensively used in daily life. Furniture, baskets, mats, cups, utensils, or musical instruments like mouth organ, flute, and trumpet are all made of bamboo. Nagas also take great pride in their tradition of basket weaving. Each Naga tribe has a distinct style of basketry. Traditionally every Naga man was a bamboo craftsman. This was a skill that a young boy would pick up from his elders. Backpacks made of cane were used for hunting. Baskets made of cane and bamboo were used to fetch water and collect harvest. Baskets continue to be used for storage and for carrying essential items, small children, or livestock. Even today, mostly men weave baskets and their first gift to their beloved is an intricately woven basket as a symbol of their commitment. 

Photo by Baljit Johal on Pexels.com

Despite the ethnic and cultural differences between Indigenous peoples all over the world, there are some striking similarities. These similarities stem from their deep relationship to the environment, land, and natural resources. Each aspect of their lives is inseparable from the natural world. Their stories and ceremonies are a constant reminder to them of their sacred duty to protect the environment. Many of their beliefs and superstitions can be linked to deep truths and profound philosophies. There is an interconnectedness that runs through the spirit of learning from the past and utilising Indigenous methods to protect historical sites, wildlife, and the environment. 

Each Indigenous culture is unique and distinct from the dominant societies in which they live today. When we do not make the effort to learn about indigenous cultures, we fail to understand the value of their practices and way of life. Their remarkable culture and way of life must be recognised, understood, and protected. The United Nations has been working to strengthen international cooperation for solving the problems faced by Indigenous peoples worldwide. A new decade for the Indigenous community begins next year with the celebration of the “Decade of Indigenous Languages 2022 – 2032”. The Indigenous peoples play an important role in sustaining the diversity of the world’s biological and cultural landscape. Traditional values and knowledge systems must be maintained and passed on to future generations. The rich cultural history and the unique system of Indigenous beliefs that have been passed from the remote past are vital for the future well-being of the world. 

Bibliography

Encyclopedia.com. (2020, September 24). Naga.

https://www.encyclopedia.com/philosophy-and-religion/eastern-religions/buddhism/naga

Government of Canada. (2020. September 23). Indigenous peoples.

https://www.canada.ca/en/services/indigenous-peoples.html

Kennedy, D., & Bouchard, R. (2006, February 7). Coast Salish. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/coastal-salish

The World Bank IBRD IDA. (2020, September 24). Indigenous Peoples. https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/indigenouspeoples

UNESCO. (2020, January 08). Indigenous Peoples. 

https://en.unesco.org/indigenous-peoples

United Nations. (2020, August 9). International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. https://www.un.org/en/observances/indigenous-day

CHERRY NARULA: WRITER, PROFILE

Born in India, Cherry lived in several towns all over India, ranging from the foothills of Darjeeling to the Western Ghats and towns of the Thar Desert to the Himachal hills where she explored the many small towns and villages.

She pursued studies in English and French literature, followed by ten years based in New Delhi, in an airline career that took flight to France for several professional training programs.

CHERRY NARULA

Cherry moved to Brampton, Canada, 25 years ago and it has been home ever since. Fortunate to continue with her field of work in aviation for the next two decades, until a mass layoff took her back to school to pursue a paralegal program.

Her urge to write was rekindled while researching legal cases. She published her first book in December 2020, titled Nona and Daniel – Taming the Monkey, which is dedicated to all grandparents.

Cherry believes that one thing constant in life is ‘learning’, and life can be continuously enriched, without a single dull moment, by taking a flight to read and learn. CHERRY