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Mizoram – the Land of Hills: North East India Part 2

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In the Second part of the North East series, we talk about Mizoram, the land of Hills. Though a very small state, it outperformed many other states in various parameters. Mizoram is known for its rich cultural heritage.

The land where there is no class distinction, the land where there is no caste discrimination, the land of hospitable people, the land with wooded hills, rivers, quicksilver streams and still lakes, the land with great natural beauty, the land with rich flora, fauna, tropical trees, the land with marvelous green hills, the land with 96% literacy rate – it’s the land of hills or simply Mizoram.

Mizoram’s timeline

Mizoram had occupied an important place in the history before independence and even after independence. It occupies a strategically very important position with an international boundary of 722 kms with Bangladesh on the west and Myanmar on the east and south.

The following is the earliest recorded history about Mizoram from British military documentaries;

  • 1895 – Mizo Hills declared as part of the British-India by a proclamation
  • 1935 – Lushai Hills declared as an excluded area
  • 1955 – Mizo cultural society was formed
  • 1959 – Mizo Hills devastated by a great famine known as the Mautam Famine
  • 1967 – Became Lushia Hills district under the Govt. of Assam
  • 1971 – Massive raid took place, Demand to make Mizoram an independent state
  • 1972 – Became a Union Territory as Mizoram
  • 1986-87 – Became a full-fledged federal state of Indian Union

The 23rd State

Mizoram is a mountainous region which became the 23rd State of the Indian Union in February 1987. Although it’s a relatively new state when compared to other states, it has outperformed others in various aspects such as education, healthcare etc

Mizoram Snapshot

About the People

But what about the people, what do they wear, what do they eat, what do they celebrate?  Thanks to the state portal of Mizoram, we can catch a glimpse of what it’s like to be in Mizoram.

The Festivals

Mizos practice what is known as ‘Jhum Cultivation’. They slash down the jungle, burn the trunks and leaves and cultivate the land. All their other activities revolve around the jhum operations and their festivals are all connected with such agricultural operations.

FestivalMonths of celebrationDescription
Mim KutAug – SepHarvest of maize crop
Pawl KutDec – JanHarvest festival after the difficult task of titling and harvesting
Chapchar KutSpringMost popular festival observed in Spring

 

Chapchar Kut : The Mizo’s festival of joy

Chapchar Kut literally means – a festival held during the period when the bamboos and trees that have been cut down are being awaited to dry to be burnt for jhumming. During this brief layoff period of jhumming, the Mizo ancestors could have all the time for themselves. They spend their leisure hunting games, fishing, et al. The Chapchar Kut festival evolved sometime between 1450 -1600 A.D. when the Mizo forefathers inhabit Lentlang. In the olden days, the festival could last for days and in the run up to the grand finale, there are well laid down steps to be followed. Abundant supply of meat must be there and home brewed liqour must be over-flowing to keep their spirit high. The modern version of Chapchar Kut has done away with liqour, which was once a part and parcel of the festival.

In fact, Mizoram has been a dry state for years. The Young Mizo Association (YMA), the largest NGO in the state, is combating drug and alcohol on a war footing starting this year and they are also a major player in organising Chapchar Kut. But who says one needs a bottle of rum to be merry ! The younger generation of the Mizos have invented for themselves enthralling music and more music to drowned themselves in.

Clothing

The original garment of the Mizos is known as Puan. They were used by men and women more or less in the same fashion. The Mizos have held on to certain patterns and mottos that have come down through the ages. These designs have become deep rooted in their tribal consciousness and have become a part of the Mizo heritage.

These traditional hand woven apparels are of different shades and designs. Some of the common clothing or puan are

ClothingDescriptionWorn by
PauncheiColorful costumeMizo lady
KawrcheiDistinctive blouseLadies
Hmar amSmall hand woven cloth
Cyhna HnoEmbroidered silk paunBoth Men and Women

 

Dance

Mizo people have a number of dances which are accompanied with musical instruments like the gong and drum. Some of their well known dance forms are

Type of DanceDescription
KhuallamDance of the guests
CherawCheraw is a very old traditional dance of the Mizos
Sarlamkai/SolakiaWarrior dance performed to celebrate a victory in war
ChailamMen and women stand alternatively in circles, with the women holding on to the waist of the man, and the man on the women’s shoulder. In the middle of the circle are the musicians who play the drums and the mithun’s horn
ChheihlamDance that embodies the spirit of joy and exhilaration. It is performed to the accompaniment of a song called ‘Chheih hla’. People squat around in a circle on the floor, sing to the beat of a drum or bamboo tube while a pair of dancers stand in the middle, recite the song and dance along with the music.
ChawnglaizawnPerformed by a husband to mourn the death of his wife. The husband would be continuously performing this dance till he gets tired. Friends and relatives would relieve him and dance on his behalf. This signifies that they mourn with the bereaved.
TlanglamTlanglam is performed throughout the length and breadth of the State. Using music of Puma Zai, there have been several variations of the dance.
ZangtalamZangtalam is a popular Paihte dance performed by men and women. While dancing, the dancers sing responsive song. A drummer is a leader and director of the dance.

 

Music & Tourism

The traditional musical instruments of the Mizos are the Drum, Gong & Flute (very rarely used). The gay and cheerful mood of the Mizos expresses itself through their love for music.

Mizoram or the land of hills is also known for its diversity of the landscape. From mountains to the caves to the national parks to the wildlife sanctuaries, it’s the place for the travel adventures.

Mizoram Bamboo Dance

Sources:
Mizoram State Website
Mizoram Tourism Website
Department of Economic & Statistics, Government of Mizoram

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