is a beautiful state adorned with naturally beautiful places.
Likewise, in addition to its beautiful tourist spots, the state is also
rich in cultural entity. There are many dance forms and festivals
prevalent in the state that make it unique in many ways. Mizoram is a land of diverse tribes and races of
people living together. These different tribes and communities have
unique features of their own in addition to their distinctive dance
forms, culture and craft forms.
The history of Mizoram comes to a few ethnic groups that have been residing in this north eastern state of India since a very long time. Groups of Chin people had migrated to this place from the Chin state of Burma. The population of this place thus primarily consists of Lusei, Hmar, Chakmas, Mara amongst other tribes. It was in the year 1972 that Mizoram was declared as an independent territory and since the year 1986, it has been functioning as a federal state of the Indian union.
The culture of Mizoram clearly reflects the roots of the Mizos. Known as the ‘Songbird of the Northeast’, the inhabitants of Mizoram are traditional and simple people still following the technology free rules today. The word Mizo itself defines ‘Mi’ meaning people and ‘Zo’ meaning the hills.
The Mizo people are very proud people in terms of their traditional legacy and they give their best to keep their cultural legacy alive. With the advancement of time, things have improved towards a better lifetstyle however, the government of Mizoram has ensured that the bucolic mode of survival of the people here are attended to via the Young Mizo association. This is done with the intention of not losing the cultural roots of the state amidst the modernization. Hence, the state has been highly successful in keeping its ethnicity alive.
The state’s culture is highly affected by Christianity, with it being the religion of a major part of the population. The Mizo society strictly follows "Tlawmngaina", which comprises of its important code of ethics teaching them to be kind, humble, generous and hospitable to others irrespective of their caste and creed.
Dance and music are important part of the people’s lives here. Folklores are common amongst people which are passed on from generations to generations. The Mizo people are very good with handicrafts. They are amazing craftsmen and weavers. Bamboos are used in abundance to craft bags, hats, stool, utensils amongst other things. The mizo women weave wonderful shawl, jacket and other attires.
The state of Mizoram, located in the extreme southernmost part of Northeast India is a beautiful state with diverse mix of different tribes and cultures residing together. The is a beautiful state filled with river valleys and blue daunting peaks. The diversity of ethnic groups, languages and religion is seen all over the state.
There are different tribes and tribal culture in Mizoram including the Pawis and Dimasa tribes. The Pawi community people mostly reside in the southern part of Mizoram.
The cuisine of Mizoram is mainly non vegetarian served in fresh green banana leaves. The meals taken are less spicy comparatively to other region food types. The core dish of the Mizos consists of non-vegetarian essence and vegetables are essential part of the cuisine. All important festivals of India are also celebrated in Mizoram. The names of all their festivals have the term ‘kut’ in the end, which means ‘festival’. Apart from these there are some regional festivals of Mizoram which include Mim Kut, Pawl Kut, Chapar Kut and Thalfavang Kut.
The dances of Mizoram
are traditional celebrating different occasions of Mizoram. These dances are accompanied by chanting, traditional musical instruments. Some of the dance forms of Mizoram include Cheraw, Khuallam, Sarlamkai/Solakia, Chailam, Chawnglaizawn, Chheihlam, Zangtalam and Tlanglam.
Tribes in Mizoram
Although it can’t be accurately deduced, it is believed by the scholars and alike that the area of the present Mizoram was originally inhabited by the Mongoloid and other tribal groups who had migrated from China and other northern countries.
The major parts of the population of Mizoram consist of the ethnic tribes and they are interlinked by means of cultural or linguistic origins. The tribal culture of Mizoram and these ethnic groups of people as a whole are known as Mizos (Mi means ‘people’ and Zo means ‘hill’). In majority the tribal people of Mizoram may be summed up into four kinds of tribal communities. They are- the Chakma Tribes, Pawi tribes, Ralte tribes and the Kuki tribes.
There is a striking similarity in the physical features of these groups of people. Moreover the tribes of Mizoram are simple, happy, literate, liberal, generous, hospitable and social by nature. They cherish the gift of friendship very well and like to live free.
There are around eighty thousand people in Mizoram that belong to the Chakma tribes which is the most important group in the area. Their language and diction is quite similar to that of Bengali. Besides the Chakma tribes, the other tribes are also significant as well. This tribe is mostly found in Southeastern hills in Mizoram. The Chakma tribes are divided into various clans.
The Mizos are another important tribe in Mizoram. The villagers of this tribe reside on top of hills. This tribe is divided into five major and eleven minor sub-tribes. Cultivation is the major occupation of this tribe, ho practice the Jhum Cultivation. Apart from jhum cultivation they also cultivate cash crops, sugarcane and tobacco. Chapchar Kut and Pavlkut are the major festivals along with Creraw and Khullam are the most colourful dances of this state.
The Pawi communities of Mizoram are mostly found in the south and southeastern part of this state. This tribe call themselves as Lai, who has migrated from Chin Hills of Burma. The Pawis are divided into various clans. They grow maize and millet. Their language is Lai language and speaks Mizo language.
The Dimasas also called as Dimasa-Kacharis are one of the ancient kachari tribes in Mizoram. Now-a-days they mostly reside in Dima Hasao district of Assam. Bishu is the important festival of this tribe that celebrated after competitions of harvest. Apart from Bishu they also perform various rituals and dances.
Fairs & Festivals in Mizoram
All important festivals of India are celebrated in Mizoram with great fervour. The festival period for the Mizos is the season of harvest. Festivals are celebrated by the Mizo people with great vigour and enthusiasm. The names of all their festivals have the term ‘kut’ in the end, which means ‘festival’. Apart from these there are some regional festivals of Mizoram which include Mim Kut, Pawl Kut, Chapar Kut and Thalfavang Kut.
The dances of Mizoram are traditional celebrating different occasions of Mizoram. These dances are accompanied by chanting, traditional musical instruments. Some of the dance forms of Mizoram include Cheraw, Khuallam, Sarlamkai/Solakia, Chailam, Chawnglaizawn, Chheihlam, Zangtalam and Tlanglam.
Festivals are most important part of a tribe. It helps a tribe to perform their rituals, to make them happy, renew old bonds and ties and feel the brotherhood among them. Every tribe has their own rituals and festivals. They celebrate these festivals in various occasions. Like other tribes peoples of Mizoram also celebrates various festivals.
The festival period for the Mizos is the season of harvest. The harvest time is the time for their merriment and joy making. Festivals are celebrated by the Mizo people with great vigour and enthusiasm. Cultivation is the main form of earning and living for the people and so their festivals celebrated also reflects the aroma of the land and its fertility. The names of all their festivals have the term ‘kut’ in the end, which means ‘festival’.
Some of the festivals celebrated in Mizoram include:
This festival celebrated in the September month before hard work in the cultivation was over. Mim Kut is celebrated for one or two days, which is celebrated in memory of someone who died in the previous year. Peoples offer vegetables, maize bread, clothes in memory to the dead person. The harvesting of the maize crop has a festival based on it known as the Mim kut. The festival is also observed to pay the homage and respects to the dead.
Pawl Kut is a harvest festival of Mizoram cellebrated after the village has gathered its harvest. They believe that the supreme god will bless them if they arrange this festival. Another festival of the Mizo people is the Pawl kut, which is observed for two whole months. It is celebrated during the month of December and January.
Chapar Kut is celebrated in Mizoram after the completion of shifting cultivation. It is one kind of harvest festival, celebrated for seven days where the peoples sacrifice pigs and prepare rice beer. They also perform Chai dance and sing songs in the festival. It is celebrated when the trees and bamboos are kept for drying purpose in order for them to be burnt for jhum cultivation.
The Chapar Kut festival is believed to be practiced by the Mizo tribe since a very long time. It is celebrated towards the end of February or beginning of March. The Mizos welcome the season of plantation and sowing during this festival. On this day people of all ages, young and old, men and women dress up in their colorful costumes and distinctive head gears and jewelries, come together and perform various folk dances, singing traditional songs accompanied by beating of drums, gongs and cymbals.As has been seen, Chapchar Kut is celebrated during the month of March every year and it is a prolonged and extended festival that lasts for as long as seven days. During these seven days, they forget all their worries and troubles of life and give up their souls solely to rejoicing. As can be seen from their faces filled with laughter and joy, the Mizos leave no stone unturned to make the most of this festival.
Dance and music forms a vital part of the fest and people clothe themselves with their best attires to look the best and present themselves before the rest. Their tribal dance is a colourful dance which they perform and praise the lord through their songs. People sit together, sing out loud, the young along with the old dance along with their sung beats and hail the lord. It is a sight worth a million smiles for nothing can beat the happiness shining on their faces. Witnessing this festival in the state of Mizoram itself has its own aura and significance. So, ever if you plan to pay a visit to this mesmerizing state of Mizoram, make it during this period so that you can taste the local aromatic cuisines and also its local traditional dance and musical heritage.
The most interesting part that I noticed about this festival is an age old tradition. As the people of Mizoram primarily earned their livelihood by farming, hence they cultivate their fertile lands by jhum cultivation and jhum cultivation requires a great deal of deforestation. These trees which are cut for the purpose of cultivation itself are kept aside to be dried under the sun. So, when the month of March arrives for the celebration of Chapchar Kut, these dried trees and woods are burnt and people dance and make merry around this fire itself. It is a sight worth rejoicing in.
With this dance, music, eating and drinking the seven days long festival finally comes to an end. Thereafter the locals yet again, get busy with their farming responsibilities thus waiting for their fields to yield out new fruits and food and serve the mankind.
This Mizoram festival is celebrated after the completion of weeding of the land in preparation fr the forth coming harvest season. This festival focuses the cultural heritages of Mizoram, where traditional games of the state also played.
Apart from these festivals some peoples of Mizoram also celebrates Christmas. It is a important festivals among the peoples. Christmas is the most important festival of Mizoram. The festival continues for three days - from 24th to 26th December. Great feasts are organized among people and everyone gets the opportunity to enjoy.
Dances of Mizoram Mizoram
is a state of varied dances. The Mizos celebrate their festivals accompanied by various dances. The dances are folk and community dances. The most important dance forms of the state of Mizoram are the following:
It is one of the oldest dances of the Mizos. The dance form is colourful and is a distinctive dance of the Mizos. It is also called bamboo dance since long bamboo starves are used in the dance. It is believed that the dance form existed in the 1st century AD. During this time the Mizos were in the Tunan Province of China.
In the dance form men sit face to face on the ground. They tap long pairs of horizontal and cross bamboo staves open and close in rhythmic beats. The bamboos placed horizontally are supported by two bases one at each other. The rhythm of the dance is produced by the clapping of the bamboos. The timings of the dance are also provided by the clapping of the bamboos. The girls dance in and out between the beats of bamboos.
The movements of birds, the swaying of trees etc form the pattern and steps of the dance. According to legend, the dance was performed to ensure the safe passage of the soul of a mother who died at a young age. The dance form is, therefore, a dance of sanctification and redemption. It is performed with great care and precision. The dance is performed in almost all festive occasions.
Girls wear the traditional Mizo costumes of Puancheri, Kawrchei, vakiria and thihna. The main instruments in the dance form are gongs and drums. Now-a-days modern music also accompanies the dance form.
Khual in Mizo language means a guest and lam means dance. Therefore, the literal meaning of Khuallam is ‘dance of the guests’. The dance is performed in the ceremony called ‘khuangchawi’. To claim a distinguished place in the society and paradise one has to attain the title of Thangchhuah.
The title could be attained in two ways. One could attain the title by proving bravery in battle or in hunting. The hunting of animals should include barking deer, wild boar, bear, viper and hawk etc. Thangchhuah could be attained by the braves ad the rich. The second method is by performing feats and dances. The ceremonies of the second method are called khuangchawi.
Guests are invited from the other villages. The dance is accompanied by gongs known as Darbu. No song is sung in the dance form. The dance is performed in large numbers. In the dance festival the traditional hand woven Mizo clothe known as Puandum is wrapped around the shoulder. The dance is performed by swaying the cloth. Puandum consists of the colours black, red, yellow and green stripes.
Sarlamkai / SolakiaThe dance form originated from the Pawi and Mara communities in the southern Mizoram. The dance form is referred to as ‘Rallu lam’ by the Lushais. In the olden times different tribes were at war. A ceremony was organized to deride the vanquished beheaded skull of the enemy by the victors. The ceremony was organized to ensure that the soul remain the slave of the victor even when the latter died. The ceremony lasts for 5 days.
The first two days are the days of merry making. It is celebrated by singing, dancing, drinking and organizing non vegetarian feast. On the third day a pig is slaughtered and the victor paints his whole body with the blood of the animal. He washes the body in the evening of the fourth day or morning of the fifth day. During these days the males are not allowed to sleep with any women.
It is a warrior dance performed to celebrate victory. The beats of the dance is made by gongs and drums with no songs sung. The dance is performed with boys and girls standing in alternate position and they dance in circle. The leader is dressed as a warrior and the others dancers wear traditional colourful dresses.
Chailam:Chailam dance is performed during the ‘Chapar Kut’ festival, one of the most important festivals of the Mizos. In the dace form the women and men stand in circle. The men hold the women by the shoulder and the women hold the waist of the men. The musicians stand in the middle of the circle. They play the drums and the Mithun’s horn. The drummers choreograph the dance while the mithun’s horn ones chant the lyrics of the ‘chai’ songs. The dancers sway in accordance of the beats of the drums.
Chailam has four versions- Chai lamthai I, Chai lamthai II, Chai lamthai III and Chai lamthai IV. According to legends one day the king and his men were out for hunting. They had to face failure. Seeing the dissapointment of the men the king invited his men for a drink. The men sang and danced followed by a feast. Since then the people celebrate the occasion every year. The festival continues for a week. In the olden days the dancers used to drink rice beer while singing and dancing.
Chawnglaizawn:Chawnglaizawn is a popular dance of the Pawi community of Mizoram. The dance is performed in two different occasions. The dance is performed both on occasion of mourning and on a joyous times. At the time of mourning, the dance is performed by the husband to mourn the death of his wife. The husband would be continuously performing the dance till he gets tired. Then the family and his friends would relieve him and dance on his behalf that would signify that they are mourning the death of the person.
On the second occasion, the dance is performed when the successful hunters bring home trophies. On such occasion the dance is performed in groups. Boys and girls dance to the tune of drums standing in rows. The dancers wear shawls which make their entire dance colourful.
Chheihlam:Chheihlam originated on the lines of the song ‘puma zai’ and the dance ‘tlanglam’ after 1900. The dance is performed to the accompaniment of the song ‘chheih hla’. People bend on the ground in a circle and sing songs. They sing to the beat of a bamboo tube or a drum. The pair of dancers stand in the middle, recite the song and dance.
The lyrics are composed on the spot narrating the heroic deeds and also praise for the honoured guests. The song is sung with the clapping of hands accompanied by drums. The dance is performed by an expert dancer. The people sitting by the dancers also accompany them. The dance is performed on any occasion . The costume of the dress is very colorful.
Zangtalam: It is the dance of the Paihtes. The dance is performed by both males and females. The dancers sing responsive songs. The drummer is the leader and the director of the dance.
Tlanglam:The dance is performed throughout the state. The dancers are both males and females.
Cuisine of Mizoram:The cuisine of Mizoram is mainly non vegetarian served in fresh green
banana leaves. The meals taken are less spicy comparatively to other
region food types. The core dish of the Mizos consists of non-vegetarian
essence and vegetables are essential part of the cuisine. There is use
of spices of garlic, chili and ginger and intake of pork. Some of the
popular traditional dishes of Mizoram include Bai, Vawksa Rep, Arsa
Buhchiar and Sawchair.
The people use mustard oil for preparation of the dishes and there is also use of spices of garlic, chili and ginger. Some of the popular traditional dishes of Mizoram include Bai which is a boiled dish of pork, spinach and bamboo shoot; Vawksa Rep which is smoked pork dish and Arsa Buhchiar and Sawchair.
The Mizoram cuisine offers mainly non vegetarian dishes served in fresh green banana leaves. The meals are less spicy comparatively to other region food types and are highly nutritious. The core dish of the Mizos consists of non-vegetarian essence. Vegetables are essential part of the cuisine, and inevitable but non-vegetarian items are the Mizo people’s favorite, without which they tend not to have any meal.
Rice is an imperative item, which is accompanied by various other vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian dishes. Amongst the non-vegetarian dishes include meats like pork, chicken, duck and goat. During the preparation of the dishes, bamboo shoots and other local herbs are ferociously used to give the dish an aroma of its own.
The oil that is mainly preferred for cooking is the mustard oil. Oil is used in very less quantity for mizo cuisines, the reason being that people here are not much into oily food. They enjoy the food, with its richness and raw aroma intact. It is with this specialty of the cooking process that Mizo food is delicious, rich yet not spiced up with oil.
The mostly common used spices used in the dishes are garlic, ginger, onion and chillies as well. Food is preferred to be served on banana leaves which make it much more traditional. No desserts are available in the mizo meal; however they prefer to have fresh fruit after the meals. Locally produced wine is also a favourite amongst the Mizo people. The original and indigenous essence of the Mizo dishes makes it more special and gives it an irreplaceable taste.
Some of the popular Mizo cuisines are Bai, a boiled dish consisting of pork, spinach and bamboo shoots, Vawksa Rep or smoked pork is a dish that is loved by not only the Mizo habitants, which is made of pork cubes, flavored with herbs but also all food lovers, saw chair is another item prepared from rice and pork/chicken.
Another famous mizo cuisine is Arsa Buhchiar, where a whole chicken is roasted in open fire and then cooked by combining it with sticky rice and other herbs. Misa Maas poora is a shrimp special, paanch phoron torkari is another delicacy. There is another dish called Sawchair made of rice cooked with pork or chicken. The locally made wine is enjoyed by both men and women. "Zu" (tea) is a popular drink. Both men and women are fond of smoking.
Art and Craft of Mizoram: The art and craft forms of Mizoram occupy a very important sector of the industrial market of the state. The primary section of arts and crafts in the state is textiles, bamboo and cane works as well as basketry. The womenfolk of Mizoram are involved in weaving. Some of the traditional products include are puanspuon dum, puon pie, thangou puon, puon laisen, jawl puon, thangsuo puon, hmarm and zakuolaisen, bamboo and cane products like jewelry and jewelry. Basketry is also an important art and craft form practiced by the people of Mizoram. Mizoram, one of the North eastern states of India, consists of a lot of form of arts and crafts which is considered to be one of their crucial activities. The art and crafts also occupies a very important sector of the industrial market of the state. The primary section of arts and crafts in the state is textiles, bamboo and cane works as well as basketry.
Weaving in Mizoram:The Mizo women are very much involved in weaving, and they are experts in it. A vast range of textile products are being produced in Mizoram. Out of them all some of the textile products of Mizoram which are famous, not only in India but also internationally, are puanspuon dum, puon pie, thangou puon, puon laisen, jawl puon, thangsuo puon, hmarm and zakuolaisen.
Bamboo and Cane in Mizoram:Mizoram is expert in making crafts out of bamboo. People are skilled in making bamboo and cane products in Mizoram. This also plays a major role in developing the economy of the state. The major works of bamboo and cane are animal and fish trapscone, hats, wide range of local jewellery and japis. Bamboo and cane industry is a very significant domain of mizo men. In their flawless bamboo works can be seen both unique and decorative piece which shows pride in its beauty.
Basketry in Mizoram:The basketry industry in Mizoram is also prevalent in the Mizo society. The people of Mizoram exhibit great skills of being an expert in this kind of craftsmanship. The very popular products of basketry are paiem, dawrawn, paikawng, tlamen, emsin, fawng-te-laivel, fawng and thul.