Origin of the word Naga

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Here’s a brief summary of the origin of the word Naga for the students of class 9 studying under Nagaland Board of School Education.

nagas
Members of the Angami tribe, one of the many tribes of Nagas (source)

Question: Write a short note on the origin of the word Naga.

Answer: Originally, the Nagas did not call themselves by that name. It was people outside who gave the name Naga to them. As early as 150 AD Greek scholar Claudius Ptolemy in his geographia referred to Nagaland as “Nagalogoi’ which means the realm of the naked.

Many scholars have researched the origin and meaning of the word Naga. A group of scholars says that the term is probably derived from the word NOK on NOKA which means folk or people in some tribal languages. Others say that the word is from Sanskrit word ‘nanga’ which means naked. Another plausible theory as to the origin of the word is from the Burmese word NAKA which means pierced ears. Both Naga men and women have the tradition of piercing their ears for earrings.

But whatever their origin may be, the Nagas today are proud to be called Nagas. They accept the fact that they belong to an old and proud race known as the Naga.

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