Post Mortem

The Purhu (Clan) Politics in Konyak Naga

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 5/30/2019 11:43:40 AM IST

 The article aims to indicate the important role of Purhu (Clan) in politics among the Konyak Naga people. It further elaborates the strong inseparable connection between Purhu (clan) and politics that leads to developing majority political party. The primary strategy for any political candidates to ascertain more votes is to win leaders of Purhu. Each Purhu consist households of 400 above and winning these households repercussions to earning more members and votes for a well play game political leader. 

In Gaelic (Northern group of Celtic languages) Clan (Purhu) means children of offspring, descendent or tribe (Campbell. 2000), similarly, in Konyak, Purhu refers to same group of family blood line, historically and culturally that defers from other groups of family. The disparity among each group of people as one family carries the most significant meaning in many ways. Among the Konyaks, Purhu (clan) plays primary role in marriage system. Names of the Purhus among the Konyaks are Salim, Wanglim, Jolim, Laolim, Maylim, Chonglim, Pongsihlrhu, Wangnaolim, and so on. Each Purhu has similar rules in marriage culture. Purhu provides the identity of selecting marriageable partners from another Purhu. Some Purhus are deeply connected to each other that they share the relationship very closed than the relationship with any others. Most importantly, no marriage is permissible for people from the same Purhu which is also known as exogamous-social norm of marrying outside one’s social group (Inden. 1976). People of the same Phuru are found in different villages. Regardless of differences in villages and locations, the sense of belonging as one family member or of the same offspring, remains very strong that keeps them united. Murguia, a Mexican scholar delineates that people of the same clan are united by the same name and the surname (Murguia. 2002). Similarly, Purhu in Konyak area is easily identified through same name living in different villages and communities and they are kept united. 

The extension of strong bond grows when inter-Purhu marriage takes place. I called this bond extension as Purhu-in-Law (Clan-in-Law). The development of inter-Purhu marriage strengthens the supports from the Puhru-in-Law in various aspects as a sign of building closed relationship or connection between the two Purhu through the inter-Purhu marriage. The Purhu-in-Law maintains the dignity among the family members through property sharing, way of approaches to one another, and most importantly, creates the history of relationship building for generations. 

How does this Purhu contribute toward developing majority votes in politics? In Purhu-politics, the Purhu identity of candidates creates wider space for people from different Purhus to engage in politics. If the Purhu of the candidates has history of good relationship in war fare, inter-Purhu marriage, and helping hand and so on, it engenders the invitation of more votes. However, the current social fragmentation has created the relegation of such strong relationship among inter-Purhus. Nevertheless, there is possibility to strengthen the strong relationship if candidates play promising politics to each Purhu according to the demands of the people of the Purhus. 

Based on the contextual needs of the people from different Purhus, candidates play the politics of identifying larger Purhus that have more households and the inter-Purhus relationship, which inevitably becomes the play maker of politics. For candidates, winning the hearts of the predominant Purhus to extend their supports in election, is winning the first phase of election. However, Purhu-Politics is a risky long term commitment politics between the candidates and the people from the Purhus. It creates the history of either breaking or building long term relationship, more specifically, between the Purhu of the candidates and the Purhus of the supporters, if the candidates betray or fail to fulfill the agreement. This history of relationship effects the generations of grandchildren either to divide or unite them in the society. If the agreements are fulfilled, there is hope of glory in sustainable victory of politics in every election. Some usual agreements that are made between the candidates and the Purhus’ people are such as designating Personal Secretaries, jobs sanctions, contract works, and Assembly Constituency party leaders and so on. 

Purhu ties (Clan ties) become more active during election. As Collin’s “Clan Politics” elaborates that, elders of Clan/Purhu are selected to convince for the support of the entire Purhu members (Collin. 2006), the politicians convincingly approach leaders/elders of Purhus for their support. Subsequently, Purhu leaders mobilize the members and if they agree, politicians would convent party meeting with them and mark the meeting as the sign of agreement between the politicians and the Purhu for the political journey together. This Purhu politics has become the strong and effective political strategy for politicians to pave a way for the hope of winning election. Hence, in the context of politics in Konyak, one has to build a good and strong relationship with leader/elders and individuals of the predominant Purhus. Purhu-Politics in one way creates time saving, easy method of reaching more people, building larger team and assurance of winning election. Though money plays additional powerful role in earning more votes, it requires Purhu which creates a good political market for good investment and fruitful revenues. 

Dr. Lemwang Chuhwanglim, 

Researcher, (

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