Zutho-Rice beer of the naga tribes of North East India-Erakina

INTRODUCTION to Festival drink of the nagas

[Festival drink of the nagas] Zutho, a fermented drink white in colour with a fruity odour and a great taste is widely popular in the homes of Nagas of North-east India. [Festival drink of the nagas]It is the traditional drink of the Angami and Chakhesang tribes in Nagaland and this drink is prepared with rice as the main ingredient. It contains 5% alcohol content.  It is well known for its medicinal properties and health-gaining aspects.

White rice and Red rice Festival drink of the nagas
A person displays  both white rice and red rice

It boosts the strength of the body, removes fatigue and relieves muscle pains and spasms, cures infections and gastronomical disorders in the body[Festival drink of the nagas].


Naga sticky rice is mainly used in this drink. Even red rice and millets can be used. Every naga household has its exclusive method of preparation,  however, the traditional method of preparation  is given below

  • Rice is cooked and then cooled on a mat.
  • Yeast in the form of cakes is prepared beforehand using the husked rice and leaves of local plants. sugarcane leaves are also added to make it sweeter.
  • After the rice is cooled the yeast cakes are crushed into a fine powder and are sprinkled on the rice and mixed evenly.
  • This mixture is stored in a container and the lid is left slightly open for air ventilation for 5 to 6 days.
  • Later on, it is kept in an airtight container for one more week[Festival drink of the nagas].
  • After 14 to 15 days the rice turns mushy and water seeps from the mixture.
  • Now take 1 ½  cup of the mixture and add 2 ½ cups of water to it and serve in a bowl.
Rice mixture Festival drink of the nagas
Rice and Yeast are mixed evenly

The mixture can also be strained and clear brewed beer can be served in terracotta tumblers[Festival drink of the nagas].

Some people soak the rice grains in water for 3 days then drain the water and germinate them for 3 to 5 days in summer and 7 days in winter. After fermentation water is added to it and filtered with a bamboo mesh and served for drinking.

There is one more method of preparation in which hand-pounded rice flour is mixed with hot water and kept overnight, the yeast was added the next day and the mixture is fermented for 14 to 15 days in a bamboo basket covered with leaves. After 15 days it is ready to drink.[Festival drink of the nagas]

This drink takes an important place in the naga’s cuisine and is present in all festival celebrations.

Zutho Festival drink of the nagas
Zutho served for drinking in a copper pitcher

Let us see the importance of the festivals of the Nagas. Nagaland is famous for its nature’s beauty and colourful vibrant festivals.

Each tribal community has their rituals and traditions to celebrate festival throughout the year some of the festivals are Tsukheniye by the Chakhesangs tribe in January, Mimkut by the Kukis tribe in January, Bushu by the Kacharis in January, Sekrenvi by the Angamis in February, Aoling by the Konyaks tribe in April, Moatsu by the Aos tribe in May, Tuluni by the Sumis

in July, Nyaknylum by the Changs tribe in July, Tokhu Emong by the Lothas tribe in November and Yemshe by the Pochurys tribe in October.

 In December Hornbill festival is celebrated to promote the inter-tribal relationship. It is celebrated in the first week of December every year in the Kisana village, Kohima, Kohima is the capital of Nagaland and is the second-largest city in the state. It was originally called” Kewhira”. The British established their headquarters in the place in 1878 and named it Kohima.

This festival brings all the 17 tribes of the state together to showcase the tribal ethnicity and culture.


The Indian hornbill, a large and colourful bird found in the forests is remembered and this festival bears its name. To encourage tribal unity and to preserve the unique cultural heritage and tradition the State Tourism and Art & Culture department organize events with the support of the Union Government.

Traditional dance of the nagas
People enjoy dancing the traditional dance at the Hornbill festival

They conduct various dance and sports performances,  painting, art & crafts display,  organise food stalls,  play games and conduct ceremonies.[Festival drink of the nagas] Naga wrestling and traditional Archery competition are more exciting to watch. More importantly, people never fail to omit   “Zutho’ on this occasion and enjoy and have fun.[Festival drink of the nagas]

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External links:

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Date: 25/06/2022

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