Traditions and Culture of Mizoram

The songbird of the northeast, Mizoram is an adorning state glamoured with scenic spots and vibrant cultural entity. Based mainly on the tribal communities inhabiting this alluring state, referred to as the Mizos, the cultural boundary of Mizoram is reflective in its own way. Known as the land of diverse tribes and races of people living together, the different tribes and communities here have unique features of their own. 

Tribes of Mizoram

The Mizo population consists of several ethnic groups. The diversity of these ethnic groups reflect historical immigration patterns. Some of the major tribes in Mizoram are the Hmar, Ralte, Lai, Lusei. 

Festivals of Mizoram

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The festivals exhibit the vast cultural diversity of the state. The festival season is the season of harvest. The festivals are celebrated with great vigour and enthusiasm. Festivals thus play a major role in shaping the brotherhood bonds of the tribes, also helping them to perform their old traditions and rituals while renewing some old bonds and ties. Each tribe has its own festival and rituals.

1. Mim Kut

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Being one of the most important festivals of Mizoram, it is celebrated in the months of August and September. This colourful, bright fiesta includes dancing and singing and continues for four to five days. It is a maize festival. This involves paying patronage and tribute to their ancestors. These include offering bread, maize, vegetables and other items.

2. Chapchar Kut

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3. Pawl Kut

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This vehement festival is like both the other kuts. This is also to celebrate the great harvest of straw. This is celebrated in December and is also considered as the Thanksgiving festival and is celebrated three months after the Mim Kut. Meat and egg are a customary part of the feast of the festival. Rice beer is primarily consumed during this festival with lots of gaiety and fun.

4. Thalfavang Kut

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Celebrated and solemnised in the months of November, this fiesta is also concerning harvest. It marks the onset of harvest. Many cultural events like games are also a part of this festival. Tribes and communities gather around and pitch in their collections in the form of feasts and happily spend their time.   

Dance Forms of Mizoram

The state of natural splendour also has one of the most captivating dance forms. The residents of Mizoram love to indulge in dances, making their lives as cheerful and vibrant as possible. The diverse Mizoram dance forms are delightful and interesting reflecting the jubilant spirit of the Mizos. Most of these dances are performed during the festivals and are group dances.

1. Cheraw

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This is the major dance form of Mizoram which is also referred to as the bamboo dance. This is one of the oldest dances of the Mizos. Long bamboo staves are used in this dance form. In this dance form, the men sit face to face on the ground, holding the bamboo sticks. They tap pairs of horizontal and cross bamboo staves open and close in rhythmic beats. This dance form is performed with great care and precision. The main instruments are gongs and drums.

2. Khuallam

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This is the dance of the guests. Guests are invited from the other villages. Gongs known as Darbu remain the most relevant instruments of the dance. No songs are sung during the dance. The traditional handwoven Mizo cloth is wrapped around the shoulder. The dance is performed by swaying the fabric.

3. Chailam

This dance form is performed during the Chapar Kut festival. This is performed by men and women standing in a circle, where men hold the shoulder of the women while the women hold the waist of the men. The musicians are placed in the middle of the circles; they play the drums and the Mithun's horn.

4. Sarlamkai

This traditional and one of the oldest dance forms of the Mizo people, Sarlamkai is performed as a part of celebration after winning a war. Men and women stand in their places while the hero dances holding his shield and his sword, swinging it to the tune of gong beats.

Food of Mizoram 

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The Mizoram cuisine is reflective of rich cuisine and focuses mainly on non-vegetarian dishes served on banana leaves. Mustard oil is used for food preparations along with the use of spices like garlic, ginger and chilli. Their food is less spicy as compared to other regions. Rice remains a staple of their diet, with several vegetarian and non-vegetarian curries. Bamboo shoots are used to give the dishes the aroma. Some of the traditional Mizo cuisines include Bai, Vawksa Rep, and Arsa Buhchiar.

Art and Craft of Mizoram

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The markets of Mizoram are occupied with a large variety of art and craft works. Textiles, bamboo, cane works, and basketry remains the main section of craft work. Many women indulge in weaving and basketry, whereas the bamboo cane sector blooms and flourishes as Mizoram is known for its specialisation in bamboo cane craftwork.

Mizoram Marriage Culture

  • Mizoram, the land of blue mountains, has a pretty popular wedding trend. It has the most number of inter-caste marriage. The Mizo tribes follow the tradition of bride pricing, a custom where payment is made by the groom's side to the bride's kin.
  • Knowing how open-minded the Mizos are, the boy and the girl are given an extended courtship period, and then the engagement follows. The boy approaches the girl's family to settle the price. Most of the weddings take place in the church and thus makes Mizo wedding entirely different and unique.
  • One of the interesting traditions followed in a Mizo wedding is that a bride gives a Puandum to the groom which is a traditional rug. This rug is wrapped around him at the time of burial.
  • Symbolising serenity and purity, the brides wear a white gown, covering their hair with a veil and holding a bouquet of flowers, while some choose to wear their traditional dress, Puanchei.
  • The groom wears a black suit, enhancing his looks. What suggests the importance of the Mizo wedding is that the white wedding gown is to be preserved and kept with the utmost care and maintaining the novelty of the fabric too.

Dresses

Mizoram's culture and heritage are reflected in their garments too. The traditional clothing of Mizoram has quite a lot of similarity with the costumes of other North-east states. These garments are symbolic of the ethnic heritage of the inhabitants.

Women
  • There are many traditional dresses of Mizo women. But, the most favourite one is the Puan, which is quite similar to a churidar and kurta, with three pieces of clothing - top clothing, legging and a headcloth resembling a dupatta. 
  • Puanchei is worn on occasions and weddings. It is basically a two-piece with a long skirt type lower and a top or shirt worn above it. This comes in many varieties - Chapchar Kut, Mim Kut and Pawl Kut. Traditionally, these are brightly coloured, with checkered designs.
  • During dances, the women wear a headdress, which is a beautiful part of the Mizo Lusei dress. It is built of coronal, which is made of brass and coloured cane. There are porcupines on these headgears, the upper edges of which are characterized by green feathers of parrots.
  • Some of the attractive blouse worn by the Mizo women above Puanchei during dances are Kawrchei and Ngotekherh.
  • Kawrchei is made of cotton material and is usually hand woven. Another beautiful piece of blouse, Zakuolaisen is made with crimson stripes. This is worn by the unmarried females. The married females wear Puon Pie.

Men
  • The simplicity of men in Mizoram is very well reflected in their clothes, as they simply put on a long piece of clothing, which is their traditional garment.
  • During winters, they add on coats to drape their garment.
  • Mizo males prefer red and white coloured coats. During the summers, they can be seen wearing outfits around their waist and a turban on their head to shield them from the heat.
  • The males of the Lusei tribes always prefer cotton clothing.
Mizoram is in itself a lovely and serene state with diverse culture to uphold and reflect, with people having an everlasting charming and merry personality to deal with. The Mizo culture is reflective of the brotherhood, happiness, festivity, and an urge to keep up the ethnicity which is deep-rooted.

This post was published by Tanushree Markandey

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