Alcove 9 – Mizo Village

Alcove 9 - MIzo VillageA Mizo village is usually set on the top of the hill with the village chief`s house at the centre. The villagers live like a big family. The houses built by the Lushai tribe of Mizoram, predominantly uses bamboo and wood in their construction. Most of the houses are built on the slopes and are invariably supported by wooden posts of varied lengths, so that the house is balanced horizontally with the level of the road. Cross beams are fastened against these posts and over the beams long solid bamboos are laid. Bamboo matting is then laid over the bamboo frame, which forms the floor of the house. The walls of the house are also made up of bamboo matting fastened to the outer posts. The roof consists of solid as well as split bamboo frames covered with thick thatch and some other kind of leaves. Cane is generally used for keeping the joints together and in some cases, iron nails are also used. In case where the floor of the house is much above the ground, a ladder made entirely of a piece of log is placed across the intervening space between the floor of the house and the ground. The doors and windows are usually of bamboo matting and these are fastened against the wall. It may be noted that in some cases the floor, doors and windows are made of wooden planks, while in others split bamboos are used instead.

The interior of the house is a single rectangular structure. It is partitioned into a number of rooms according to the convenience by screens made of bamboo matting or with a cloth fixed to bamboo or wooden frame. In houses where both married and unmarried persons live together, separate sleeping apartments are made by partition as described above. The hearth is always at one corner of the house usually near the front floor. It is made of clay and stones and is raised about 2-3 ft above the floor supported by raised poles. Above the fire place is hung a bamboo frame which is kept suspended to keep various things used in cooking as dried chillies, dry fish, salt, etc.

CULTURE

The fabric of social life in the Mizo society has undergone tremendous changes over years. Before the British moved into the hills, for all practical purposes the village and the clan formed units of Mizo society. The Mizo code of ethics or Dharma moved around ‘Tlawmngaihna”, an untranslatable term meaning on the part of everyone to be hospitable, kind, unselfish and helpful to others. Tlawmngaihna to Mizo stands for the compelling moral force which finds expression in self-sacrifice for the service of the others. The old belief, Pathian is still use in term God till today. The Mizos have been enchanted to their new-found faith of Christianity with so much dedication and submission that their entire social life and thought-process been transformed and guided by the Christian Church Organisation and their sense of values has also undergone drastic change. The Mizos are a close-knit society with no class distinction and no discrimination on grounds of sex. Ninety percent of them are cultivators and the village exists like a big family. Birth of a child, marriage in the village and death of a person in the village or a community feast arranged by a member of the village are important occasions in which the whole village is involved.

LANGUAGES

The Mizo language (Mizo: Mizo tawng) is natively spoken by Mizo people in Mizoram.

Mizo is the official language of Mizoram. The Mizo community is an amalgam of several indigenous tribes who had their own unique lifestyle and distinctive dialects. The Duhlian dialect, also known as the Lusei among the locals was the most popular language of Mizoram. Over the years, this local mode of speech and communication has evolved into the northeast Indian state’s lingua franca. However, traditional Lusei language was interspersed with traces of other dialects like the Mara, Lai and Hmar and their collective medley led to the formation of the Mizo language. Subsequently, the Christian missionaries developed the Mizo script. This was a significant milestone that marked the development of a colloquial speech into a formal script. The writing pattern was a combination of the Roman script and Hunterian transliteration methodology with prominent traces of a phonetics based spelling system. The development of the Mizo writing script has prompted the state to demand the official recognition of the language in the 8th schedule of the Indian constitution.

Another language that has gained wide acceptability in Mizoram is English, the universal language. English has paramount importance in the sphere of the state’s education, all administrative units and government matters as well as all other formal ceremonies.

Chakma is another dominant language in Mizoram, spoken by the Chakmas, the largest minority tribe. The Chakmas have their own script which no other tribe in Mizoram has.

LOCATION

Perching on the high hills of North Eastern corner, Mizoram is a storehouse of natural beauty with its endless variety of landscape, hilly terrains, meandering streams deep gorges, rich wealth of flora and fauna. Flanked by Bangladesh on the west and Myanmar on the east and south, Mizoram occupies an important strategic position having a long international boundary of 722 Kms.

THE LAND

Mizoram is a mountainous region which became the 23rd State of the Union in February 1987. It was one of the districts of Assam till 1972 when it became Union Territory. Sandwiched between Myanmar in the east and and south and Bangladesh in the west, Mizoram occupies an area of great strategic importance in the north-eastern corner of India. It has a total of 630 miles boundary with Myanmar and Bangladesh. Mizoram has the most variegated hilly terrain in the eastern part of India. The hills are steep and are separated by rivers which flow either to the north or the south creating deep gorges between the hill ranges. The average height of the hills is about 900 metres. The The highest peak in Mizoram is the Phawngpui (Blue Mountain) with a height of 2210 metres. Mizoram has a pleasant climate. It is generally cool in summer and not very cold in winter. During winter, the temperature varies from 11 C to 21 C and in the summer it varies between 20 C to 29 C. The entire area is under the direct influence of the monsoon. It rains heavily from May to September and the average rainfall in Aizawl is 208 cm. Winter in Mizoram is wonderfully blue, and in the enchanting view of wide stretches of a vast lake of cloud. Mizoram has great natural beauty and endless variety of landscape and is very rich in flora and fauna. Almost all kinds of tropical trees and plants thrive in Mizoram. The hills are marvellously green.

FESTIVALS & DANCES

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 agriculture operations.

Mim Kut: which takes place in August-September in the wake of harvesting of the maize crop, is celebrated with great gaiety and merriment expressed through singing, dancing, feasting and drinking of homemade rice beer Zu Dedicated to the memory of their dead relatives, the festival is underlined by a spirit of thanksgiving and remembrance of the year’s first harvest is placed as an offering on a raised platform built to the memory of the dead.

Pawl Kut: is Harvest Festival – celebrated during December to January. Again, a mood of thanksgiving is evident, because the difficult task of titling and harvesting is over. Community feasts are organised and dances are performed. Mothers with their children sit on memorial platform and feed one another. This custom, which is also performed during Chapchar Kut, is known as ‘Chawnghnawt’. Drinking of zu is also part of the festival. The two-day is followed by a day of complete rest when no one goes out to work.

Chapchar Kut: Of all the Kuts of the Mizo, Chapchar Kut has emerged as the most popular and enjoyable, owing perhaps to the humorous stories of its origin and the favourable time when the festival is observed-Spring !

The drum and the gong are two traditional musical instrument of the Mizos. The flute is another, though it is no longer much in use. There was another musical instrument which was made by inserting hollow reeds into gourds. Blowing through one reed produced a tune. That instrument has fallen completely in disuse.

The usual Mizo drum, made of a hollowed tree trunk covered with fine on either side, is ‘about a foot in diameter and two feet in length’. The gongs, which came in various sizes mostly from Myanmar, are expensive brassware. Sometimes three gongs, each having a separate note are beaten simultaneously to produce fine musical tunes.

The gay and cheerful mood of the Mizos expresses itself through their love for music. “Shakespeare, called music ‘the food of love’ and asked for ‘the excess of it’. If music be the food of love/play on, play on/and give me excess of it’ The Mizos would be happy to ‘play on’ and offer the immortal poet ‘the excess of their music.

Mizos are fast giving up their old customs and adopting the new mode of life which is greatly influenced by the western culture. Many of their present customs are mixtures of their old tradition and western pattern of life. Music is a passion for the Mizos and the young boys and girls take to the western music avidly and with commendable skill. The fascinating hills and lakes of Mizo-land literally pulsate and resound with the rhythms of the sonorous songs of the youths and the twang of guitars everywhere.
Mizo people have a number of dances which are accompanied with few musical instruments like the gong and drum.

Khuallam: Khuallam literary means ‘Dance of the Guests’. It is a dance usually performed in the ceremony called ‘Khuangchawi’. In order to claim a distinguished place in the society and to have a place in paradise or Pialral one has to attain the coveted title of ‘Thangchhuah’. There are two ways of attaining this title.

Firstly one could attain the title Thangchhuah by proving one’s mettle in war or in hunting by killing many animals which should include animals like barking,deer, wild boar, bear, wild gayal, viper, hawk etc.Secondly one could also get the title of Thangchhuah by performing feats and dances. Thangchhuah therefore could be attained only by the brave or by the rich. The ceremonies performed in the second method are known as Khuangchawi. Guests invited from the other villages at the Khuangchawi ceremony enter the arena dancing Khuallam. Traditional hand woven Mizo cloth known as Puandum is wrapped over the shoulders and the dance is performed by swaying the cloth. Puandum has the colours black, red, yellow and green stripes. Significantly Puandum is an indispensable item which every girl has to take along with when she gets married. It is used when her husband dies to cover the dead body. As most other folk dances of the Mizos, this dance is accompanied by a set of gongs known as Darbu and no song is sung. It is generally performed in large numbers.

Cheraw: Cheraw is a very old traditional dance of the Mizos. It is believed that the dance had already existed way back in the 1st Century A.D., while the Mizos were still somewhere in the Yunan Province of China, before their migration into the Chin Hills in the 13th Century A.D., and eventually to the present Mizoram. Some of the tribes living in South East Asia have similar dances in one form or the other with different names. Men sitting face to face on the ground tap long pairs of horizontal and cross bamboo staves open and close in rhythmic beats. Girls in colorful Mizo costumes of ‘Puanchei’, ‘Kawrchei’. Vakiria’ and ‘Thihna’ dance in and out between the beats of bamboo. This dance is now performed in almost all festive occasions. The unique style of the ‘Cheraw’ is a great fascination everywhere it is performed. Gongs and drums are used to accompany the dance. Today modern music also complements the dance.

Sarlamkai/Solakia: This is an impressive dance originating from the Pawi and Mara communities in the southern part of Mizoram. This dance is known as ‘Sarlamkai’ whereas the Lushais referred to it as ‘Rallu Lam’. In older days when the different tribes were constantly at war with each other, a ceremony to deride the vanquished beheaded skull of the enemy was usually held by the victor. This ceremony is performed to ensure that the vanquished soul remains a slave to the victor even when the latter also dies.

The derision ceremony usually lasts for 5(five) days. The first 2 (two) days is spent in merry-making, singing alongside drinks and a non-vegetarian feast. On the third day a pig is slaughtered and he victor paints his whole body with the animal’s blood, which he only washes off on the evening of the fourth day or on the morning of the fifth day. During this 5 (five) days period, the victor is not to sleep with any women.

If he does so, the vanquished soul is believed to be infuriated and cause upon the victor, a permanent disability in any person who brings about an occasion for such a ceremony is highly regarded and respected by the people, the king as well as his elders. Therefore, every adult strives with all his or her capability to be such a hero. The courage and bravery of such heroes is a great consolation for the people when faced with any external aggression. It is during this ceremony that the ‘Sarlamkai’ dance is performed. As is obvious, it is a warrior dance performed to celebrate a victory in war. Songs are not sung; only gongs or cymbals or drums are used for making beats. In the dance, boys and girls standing in alternate position, dance in circles. They generally wear colourful dresses while the leader is dressed as a warrior.

Chailam: Chailam is a popular dance performed on the occasion of ‘Chapchar Kut’ one of the most important festivals of the Mizos. In this dance, men 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.

The musician playing the drum choreographs the entire nuances of the dance while the one with the mithun’s horn chants the lyrics of the ‘chai’ song. For the dance to start, the drummer beats on the drum, and upon the fourth stroke of the drum the chai song is sung with the rhythmic swaying of the dancers to the left and right, in accordance with beats of the drum. Depending on the nuances followed, the chailam’ has four versions, viz ‘Chai Lamthai I, ‘Chai Lamthai II, Chai Lamthai III and ‘Chai Lamthai IV’. Legend has it that once a king and his men went out for hunting. Unfortunately, they failed miserably and had to be contended without a kill. The king, then seeing the utter disappointment of his men, rose to the occasion and consoles them by inviting them for a drink of rice beer at his palace. On being intoxicated by the drinks, the party then culminated by singing and dancing followed by a sumptuous feast. Since then, every year, the community continues to enliven the memory of this occasion be celebrating it with various entertainment programs, thus giving rise to one of the most important festivals of the Mizos, the ‘Chapchar Kut’. In this dance, musical instrument like drum and horns of mithun are used for making beats. The festival continues for a week or more. In olden days, the ‘Chai’ dancers used to drink rice beer continuously during singing and dancing.

Chawnglaizawn: This is a popular fold dance of one of the Mizo communities known as Pawi. This dance is performed in two different occasions.

(i) It is performed 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.
(ii) Chawnglaizawn’ is performed on festivals and also to celebrate trophies brought home by successful hunters.

On such occasions, it is performed in groups of large numbers. Boys and girls standing in rows dance to the beat of drums. Shawls are used to help the movement of the arms, which also adds color to the dance. Only drums are used in this dance.

Chheihlam: Chheihlam’ originated after the year 1900 on the lines of the songs known as ‘Puma Zai’ and the dance known as ‘Tlanglam’. It is a dance 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 stands in the middle, and recite the song and dance along with the music.

It was a dance performed over a round of rice beer in the cool of the evening. The lyrics are impromptu and spontaneous on the spot compositions recounting their heroic deeds and escapades and they also praise the honoured guests present in their midst. While singing the song accompanied by sound produced by beating of the drum or clapping of hands, an expert dancer performs his dance chanting verses with various movements of the body, with limbs close to the body and crouching low to the ground. As the tempo rose and the excitement increases, people squatting on the floor leave their seats and join him. Guests present are also invited to join the dance. Today ‘Chheihlam’ is performed on any occasion with colourful costumes, normally in the evening when the day’s work is over

Tlanglam: Tlanglam is performed throughout the length and breadth of the State. Using music of Puma Zai, there have been several variations of the dance. This dance is one of the most popular dances these days by our cultural troupes in various places. Both sexes take part in this dance.

Zangtalam: Zangtalam 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. The duration of the dance depends on the drummer.

ECONOMY

Bamboo: The Socio-Economic Backbone of Mizoram Mizoram is a mountainous region, which became the 23rd State of the Indian Union in February 1987.It was one of the districts of Assam till 1972 when it became a Union Territory. Sandwiched between Myanmar in the east and south and Bangladesh in the west, Mizoram occupies an area of great strategic importance in the north-eastern corner of India. It has a total of 722 Km. boundary with Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Agriculture: Agriculture is the mainstay of the people of Mizoram. More than 70% of the total population is engaged in Agriculture. The age old practice of Jhum cultivation is carried out annually by a large number of people living in rural areas. The climatic condition in the state with well distributed rainfall of 1900mm to 3000mm spread over eight to ten months in the year and location in tropic and temperate zone with various soil types have contributed to the occurrence of a wide spectrum of rich and varied flora and fauna. These natural features and resources also offer opportunities for growing a variety of horticultural crops.

Food Processing: The agro-climatic conditions of Mizoram is conducive to agricultural and horticultural crops. As such, a strong and effective food processing sector should play a significant supportive role. The total production of fruits, vegetables and spices will be increasing year by year as the number of farmers are weaning away from jhum cultivation and are taking up diversification towards cash-crops.

Mines & Minerals: The present main mineral exploration in Mizoram is only hard rock of tertiary formation, which are mainly utilized as building materials and road construction work. However, several reports (both from Geological Survey of India and State Geology & Mining Wing of Industries Department) revealed that the availability of minor mineral in difference places.

Handloom & Handicraft: There are potentials in developing bamboo crafts and readymade garments made out of specially designed local handloom clothes which can be exported marketing outside India. By providing necessary inputs, credit, design and marketing facilities, the potential of the handloom and handicraft industry can be creatively tapped.

Tourism: With its abundant scenic beauty and a soothing climate, Mizoram has a scope of developing tourist related industries. Specific tourist projects can be developed to put Mizoram on the tourist map of India.

Energy Sector: Despite having a rich potential in hydro, Mizoram is not having its own power generation worth mentioning. At present, there are 22 (twenty two) isolated Diesel Power stations scattered at various places and 9(nine) Mini/Micro Hydel stations in operation. The above total installed capacity of diesel Power Station is 26.14MW and Mini/Micro Hydel Station is 8.25MW. As per 16th Electric Power Survey of India under CEA, Government of India, the restricted peak load demand of the State during the year 2002-2003 is 102 MW. Against this, an effective capacity of about 16MW from Diesel Power Stations and 6MW from Hydel Stations is available from local generation at present.

Medicinal: The socio-economic life of the rural people depends on their embient vegetarian from where they derive all their material requirements – timber, food, fuel wood, medicinal plants etc. About 95% of the interior population depends on herbal medicine and nearly 98% of raw materials are harvested from the wild plant resources without replenishing the growing stocks. The village herbal preparation includes uprooting of the plants which is detrimental to the individuals or sub-populations. And as a result, commonly used and effective herbal plants became rare and endangered species, and some plants are on the verge of extinction unless conservation measures are taken up for revival.

SOCIETY

The Mizos are impregnable society with no class difference and no discrimination on the grounds of sex. 90% of the total society are into cultivation and the village seems like a big family. Birth of a child, marriage in the village and death of a person in the village or a community feast organised by a member of the village are prime events in which the whole village takes part.

Clinging to their identity and culture, despite external influences(which threatened Mizo culture during the turbulent period after Indian independence), Mizos have ensured that it continues to thrive with unabated enthusiasm and vigour.

Every major Mizo village now has an YMA (Young Mizo Association) centre, dedicated to infuse society with its traditional lifestyle and customs. Some of the most colourful aspects of this revival are witnessed amongst the folk and community dances that have been handed down from one generation to the next. It is reflected in the important harvest festivals that are an intrinsic part of Mizo culture.

The Mizos, being patriarchal, property is inherited by men rather than women. The family property usually goes to the youngest son although the father may leave shares to other sons, if he desires. If a man has no sons, his property is inherited by the next kin on the male side.

If a man dies leaving a widow and minor children, a male relation (who usually happens to be a brother of the deceased) takes charge of the family and looks after the property until one of the sons comes of age. If no such male relative is around, then the widow acts as a trustee of her husband’s property until such times as his son or sons are old enough to inherit it. However, although the youngest son of the family is the natural or formal heir to his father under the Mizo customary laws, in actuality, the paternal property is generally divided among all sons. The youngest of them gets a preferential treatment in that he would get the first choice of the articles, and he would get two shares of the cash in case of one each for the other brothers. A daughter or a wife can inherit property only if the deceased has no heir on the male side. Women, however, are entitled to their own property.

RELIGION

Mizoram is almost entirely Christian. The church is an intimate and everyday part of Mizo culture and the Sunday School concept is actively followed by all ages. Some 87% of the population (including most ethnic Mizos) is Christian. Other faiths include Hindus who form a small minority in the state, at 3.6% of the population following the religion. More than 70,494 people follow Buddhism in Mizoram according to 2001 census report. Muslims also form a small minority with 1.1% of the population following the faith. People who believe in this faith are from other state but living in Mizoram

Christianity: The major Christian denominations are the Presbyterian. The Mizoram Presbyterian Church was established by a Welsh Missionary named Rev. D.E. Jones. The Mizoram Presbyterian Church is one of the constituted bodies of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of India, which has its headquarters at Shillong in Meghalaya (India).The administrative set up of the Mizoram Presbyterian Church Synod is highly centralized. The Synod, having its headquarters at Aizawl, the Capital of Mizoram State, is the highest decision making body of the church. The financial operation, the personnel matters, the administration, management and the execution of works of the church are directly or indirectly supervised and controlled by the Synod Headquarters.[3], Baptist Church of Mizoram[4], Evangelical Church of Maraland, Salvation Army, Seventh-day Adventist Church[5], Roman Catholic, Lairam Jesus Christ Baptist Church(LIKBK), and the Pentecostals.

Buddhism: More than 70,494 people follow Buddhism in Mizoram according to 2001 census report. Especially, the Chakmas practice Buddhism.

Judaism: In recent decades, a number of people from Mizoram, Assam, and Manipur have returned to Judaism. This group is known collectively as the Bnei Menashe, and include Chin, Kuki, and Mizo. Several hundred have formally converted to Orthodox Judaism and many openly practise an Orthodox type of Judaism. The Bnei Menashe do not see themselves as converts, but believe themselves to be ethnically Jewish, descendants of one of the Lost Tribes of Israel (see Bnei Menashe). The Jewish population of the Bnei Menashe currently is estimated at 9,000 people.

Tribal: The pre-Christian spirituality of the Mizo was Monotheism, the existence of the god named Pathian (or Pu Vana).

The Brus (Riangs or Tuikuk as they are also known) are one of the tribes to be found in Mizoram and some of them are still practicing the traditional animism although the Mizo Christians have, to a great extent, introduced them to Christianity.

MARITAL SYSTEM

Although Christianity brought about a near – total transformation in the Mizo lifestyle and outlook some customary laws have stayed on. The efforts of the Missionaries, so it seems, were not directed at changing the basic customs of the Mizo society presumably because they saw nothing much wrong with them. The customs and traditions which they found meaningless and harmful were abolished by persistent preaching. Thus tea replaced ZU as a popular drink among the Mizos. Zawlbuk had been replaced by modern education. Animal sacrifices on ceremonial occasions, which were once an integral part of Mizo religious system, are now considered anathema. But such traditions as the payment of bride price are still continued and encouragement so are some other customs and community traditions.

Bride Price: The Mizos are not alone in putting a price on a bride. This custom is a prevalent in a few other Indian Communities as well. When a Mizo boy approaches his fiancée’s parents for permission to get married, the first thing he has to do is to settle the bride price. If the price among other things, demanded by him, is acceptable to the parents, the boy and the girl are allowed to get married. Thus the settlement of the bride price to be paid by the bridegroom is an essential pre-requisite to a Mizo marriage.

It so generally happens that part of the bride price which may be paid on the eve of the wedding, while the part of bride price called ‘Thutphah’ is held back over the years as a sort of security of paying off the debts fall on the next generation. In case of the death of a husband, his son is obliged to pay the bride price.

The principal bride price is known as Manpui the rate which is (mentioned in terms of mithun or sial) Rs 80/- per unit. Besides, there are subsidiary bride prices like sumhmahruai (rate Rs 20/-) and sumfang (Rate Rs 8/-). These prices are to be paid to the bride’s father or brother. Pusum, the rate of which varies from Rs 4/- to Rs 10/- is payable to the nearest relation on the side of the bride’s mother who most often than not turns out to be the maternal uncle of the bride. An equivalent amount, known as Ni-ar, is paid to the bride’s paternal aunt as well.

The elder sister or sisters of the bride are entitled to Naupuakpuan, which is the price received by them for having given the bride their clothes to wear or taken of the bride in her childhood. In the event of the bride being the eldest daughter take or an only child, this price is received by other female relations. A sum also goes to the Palal who acts as the bride’s foster father and takes on the responsibility of safeguarding her interests throughout her married life. The bride’s maid also gets a price known as thianman. There are some optional payments as well. Taken together, the bride price adds up to a considerable figure which is often impossible for the bridegroom to pay at one time.

However, it would be a mistake to continue bride price with sale or dowry. For all those who gets a share of it comes under a special obligation to look after the welfare and interest of the bride.

Wedding: A Mizo marriage is preceded by courtship and engagement. The boy and girl are allowed to mix freely during the engagement period. But an engagement may be broken off midway through if the couple fails who get on with each other.

As the majority of the Mizos are now Christians, marriages are solemnized in Church. Both bride and the bridegroom wear wedding dresses in the latest Western Style But sometimes the bride is also decked in puanchei, a traditional Mizo costume, and white blouse.

The bride brings along to her husband a traditional rug called Puandum in which his body is to be wrapped during burial. This is an integral part of the Mizo marriage and failure to bring the cloth entails punishment leading to a reduction in the bride price.

There are other types of marriage as well. In the Makpa chhungkhung type of wedding the bridegroom does not pay bride price but goes to his wife’s house to live her. This type of marriage happens in families where there are no male heirs. Consequently, it becomes the duty of the son-in-law to care for his wife’s parents.

Another type of Mizo marriage, as Luhkhung, is performed without a social ceremony. If a girl becomes pregnant, she starts living quietly with the boy responsible for her condition in his house. However, the marriage of a pregnant girl is sometimes performed in the Vestry instead of the main Hall of a Church. Tlandun is yet another kind of marriage in which a couple runs away from home to get married.

HOUSING PATTERN

Major portion of its total population lives in the villages. The villages are in fact considered the lifeline of the state, as they hold the key for the agricultural, economic, cultural or industrial strength of the state.

A Mizo village is usually set on the top of the hill with the village chief`s house at the centre. The villagers live like a big family. The houses built by the Lushai tribe of Mizoram, predominantly uses bamboo and wood in their construction. Most of the houses are built on the slopes and are invariably supported by wooden posts of varied lengths, so that the house is balanced horizontally with the level of the road. Cross beams are fastened against these posts and over the beams long solid bamboos are laid. Bamboo matting is then laid over the bamboo frame, which forms the floor of the house. The walls of the house are also made up of bamboo matting fastened to the outer posts. The roof consists of solid as well as split bamboo frames covered with thick thatch and some other kind of leaves. Cane is generally used for keeping the joints together and in some cases, iron nails are also used. In case where the floor of the house is much above the ground, a ladder made entirely of a piece of log is placed across the intervening space between the floor of the house and the ground. The doors and windows are usually of bamboo matting and these are fastened against the wall. It may be noted that in some cases the floor, doors and windows are made of wooden planks, while in others split bamboos are used instead.

The interior of the house is a single rectangular structure. It is partitioned into a number of rooms according to the convenience by screens made of bamboo matting or with a cloth fixed to bamboo or wooden frame. In houses where both married and unmarried persons live together, separate sleeping apartments are made by partition as described above. The hearth is always at one corner of the house usually near the front floor. It is made of clay and stones and is raised about 2-3 ft above the floor supported by raised poles. Above the fire place is hung a bamboo frame which is kept suspended to keep various things used in cooking as dried chillies, dry fish, salt, etc.

HISTORY

Historical Backdrop: The origin of the Mizos, like those of many other tribes in the North Eastern India is shrouded in mystery. The generally accepted as part of a great Mongoloid wave of migration from China and later moved out to India to their present habitat.

It is possible that the Mizos came from Shinlung or Chhinlungsan located on the banks of the river Yalung in China. They first settled in the Shan State and moved on to Kabaw Valley to Khampat and then to the Chin Hills in the middle of the 16th century.

The earliest Mizos who migrated to India were known as Kukis, the second batches of immigrants were called New Kukis. The Lushais were the last of the Mizo tribes migrate to India. The Mizo history in the 18th and 19th Century is marked by many instances of tribal raids and retaliatory expeditions of security. Mizo Hills were formally declared as part of the British-India by a proclamation in 1895. North and south hills were united into Lushai Hills district in 1898 with Aizawl as its headquarters.

The process of the consolidated of the British administration in tribal dominated area in Assam stated in 1919 when Lushai Hills along with some other hill districts was declared a Backward Tract under government of India Act. The tribal districts of Assam including Lushai Hills were declared Excluded Area in 1935.

It was during the British regime that a political awakening among the Mizos in Lushai Hills started taking shape the first political party, the Mizo Common People’s Union was formed on 9th April 1946. The Party was later renamed as Mizo Union. As the day of Independence drew nearer, the Constituent Assembly of India set up an Advisory Committee to deal with matters relating to the minorities and the tribals. A sub-Committee, under the chairmanship of Gopinath Bordoloi was formed to advise the Constituent Assembly on the tribal affairs in the North East. The Mizo Union submitted a resolution of this Sub-committee demanding inclusion of all Mizo inhabited areas adjacent to Lushai Hills. However, a new party called the United Mizo Freedom (UMFO) came up to demand that Lushai Hills join Burma after Independence.

Following the Bordoloi Sub-Committee’s suggestion, a certain amount of autonomy was accepted by the Government and enshrined in the Six Schedule of the constitution. The Lushai Hills Autonomous District Council came into being in 1952 followed by the formation of these bodies led to the abolition of chieftanship in the Mizo society.

The autonomy however met the aspirations of the Mizos only partially. Representatives of the District Council and the Mizo Union pleaded with the States Reorganization Commission (SRC) in 1954 for integrated the Mizo-dominated areas of Tripura and Manipur with their District Council in Assam.

The tribal leaders in the North East were laboriously unhappy with the SRC Recommendations. They met in Aizawl in 1955 and formed a new political party, Eastern India Union (EITU) and raised demand for a separate state comprising of all the hill districts of Assam. The Mizo Union split and the breakaway faction joined the EITU. By this time, the UMFO also joined the EITU and then understanding of the Hill problems by the Chuliha Ministry, the demand for a separate Hill state by EITU was kept in abeyance.
Facts and Legends: But folklore has an interest tale of offer. The Mizos, so goes the legend, emerged from under a large covering rock known as Chhinlung. Two people of the Ralte clan, known for their loquaciousness, started talking noisily while coming out of the region. They made a great noise which leg God, called Pathian by the Mizos, to throw up his hands in disgust and say enough is enough. He felt, too many people had already been allowed to step out and so closed the door with the rock.

History often varies from legends. But the story of the Mizos getting out into open from the nether world through a rock opening is now part of the Mizo fable. Chhinlung however, is taken by some as the Chinese city of Sinlung or Chinlingsang situated close on the Sino-Burmese border. The Mizos have songs and stories about the glory of the ancient Chhinlung civilization handed down from one generation to another powerful people.

It is hard to tell how far the story is true. It is nevertheless possible that the Mizos came from Sinlung or Chinlungsan located on the banks of the river Yalung in China. According to K.S.Latourette, there were political upheavals in China in 210 B.C. when the dynastic rule was abolished and the whole empire was brought under one administrative system. Rebellions broke out and chaos reigned throughout the Chinese State. That the Mizos left China as part of one of those waves of migration. Whatever the case may have been, it seems probable that the Mizos mover from China to Burma and then to India under forces of circumstances. They first settled in the Shan State after having overcome the resistance put up by the indigenous people. Then they changed settlements several times, moving from the Shan State to Kabaw Valley to Khampat to Chin Hills in Burma. They finally began to move across the river Tiau to India in the Middle of the 16th Century.

The Shans had already been firmly settled in their State when Mizos came there from Chhinlung around 5th Century. The Shans did not welcome the new arrivals, but failed to throw the Mizos out. The Mizos had lived happily in the Shan state for about 300 years before they moved on the Kabaw Valley around the 8th Century.

It was in the Kabaw Valley that Mizos got the opportunity to have an unhindered interaction with the local Burmese. The two cultures met and the two tribes influenced each other in the spheres of clothing, customs, music and sports. According to some, the Mizos learnt the art of cultivation from the Burmese at Kabaw. Many of their agricultural implements bore the prefix Kawl which was the name given by the Mizos to the Burmese.

Khampat (now in Myanmar) is known to have been the next Mizo settlement. The area claimed by the Mizos as their earliest town, was encircled by an earthen rampart and divided into several parts. The residence of the ruler stood at the central block call Nan Yar (Palace Site). The construction of the town indicates the Mizos had already acquired considerable architecture skills. They are said to have planted a banyan tree at Nan Yar before they left Khampat as a sign that town was made by them.

The Mizos, in the early 14th century, came to settle at Chin Hills on the Indo-Burmese border. They built villages and called them by their clan names such as Seipui, Saihmun and Bochung. The hill and difficult terrain of Chin Hills stood in the way of the building of another central township like Khampat. The villages were scattered so unsystematically that it was not always possible for the various Mizo clans to keep in touch with one another.

Birth of Mizoram State: Rajiv Gandhi’s assumption of power following his mother’s death signalled the beginning of a new era in Indian politics. Laldenga met the Prime Minister on 15th February 1985. Some contentious issues, which could not be resolved, during previous talks referred to him for his advice.

All trends indicated that neither the Centre nor the MNF would pass up the opportunity that has now presented itself to have a full lenient and flexible. New Delhi felt that Mizo problem had been dragging on for the long a time, while the MNF was convinced that bidding farewell to arms to live as respectable Indian Citizens was the only ways of achieving peace and development.

Statehood was a prerequisite to the implementing of the accord signed between the MNF and the Union Government on 30 June 1986. The document was signed by Laldenga, on the behalf of MNF, and the Union Home Secretary RD Pradhan on behalf of the Government, Lalkhama Chief Secretary of Mizoram, too signed the agreement.

The MNF volunteers came out of their hiding and surrendered arms to makeshift bamboo huts up for the purpose at Parva and Marpara. A total of 614 activists gave themselves up in less than two weeks in July. Large quantities of small and big firearms including LMGs and rifles were received from them.

While the MNF kept its part of the bargain, the Centre initiated efforts to raise the status of Mizoram to a full-fledged State. A constitution Amendment Bill and another to confer statehood on Mizoram was passes in the Lok Sabha on 5 August 1986.

The formalization of Mizoram State took place on 20th February, 1987.Chief Secretary Lalkhama read out the proclamation of statehood at a public meeting organised at Aizawl’s Parade Ground. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi flew in to Aizawl to inaugurate the new state. Hiteshwar Saikia was appointed as Governor of Mizoram.

FOOD

Mizo food is simple, basically made up of lentils, bamboo shoots and fish; pork, chicken and wild game meat and rice are hot favorites. Maize is widely grown and eaten.

REFERENCE

http://mizoram.nic.in/about/people.htm
http://mizoram.nic.in/about/history.htm
http://mizoram.nic.in/about/custom.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mizoram