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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. Mizoram's culture is also reflective of the traditional heritage of the inhabitants. The residents of this peace paying land are very proud of their cultural legacy and go beyond lengths to preserve it in spite of many foreign intrusions. Being the songbird of the northeast, Mizoram perches on the hills, displaying its storehouse of endless natural beauty.

Tribes of Mizoram

The Mizo population consists of several ethnic groups. The diversity of these ethnic groups reflect the historical immigration patterns. The majority of the Mizos are Christians. There are four major kinds of tribes in Mizoram, which are the Chakma Tribes, Pawi tribes, Ralte tribes and the Kuki tribes. The tribes of Mizoram are populous, literate, gorgeous, and wish to live free. They reflect a friendly and a happy go lucky personality. 

Festivals of Mizoram

The state which is equipped with a plethora of beautiful sites also has many festivals to celebrate. 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.

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Mim Kut

This extravagant and flashy festival is not only unique but also simple and diverse in its own way. 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 dead ancestors by practising already set customs which have been practised for centuries. These include offering bread, maize, vegetables and other items. The festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm as it is believed that the dead ancestors visit the houses of their children and special offerings are made for them.

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Chapchar Kut

Considered as the oldest festival of Mizoram, during this festival, farmers cut bamboo forests to make places for seasonal farming. They wait for the bamboo heaps to get dry and then burn them. Portraying the liveliness of the culture, people dress up wearing traditional clothes and hats made from parrot's feathers and beads. They do not wear shoes, and a traditional bamboo dance is performed where the women dance gracefully while the men sit on the ground and beat each other with bamboo sticks while singing the traditional songs. Chapchar Kut is celebrated in all the villages of the state and is also the most important cultural tradition followed. It is conducted during the month of March.

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Pawl Kut

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.

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Thalfavang Kut

Celebrated and solemnised in the months of November, this fiesta is also concerning harvest. It marks the onset of harvest. The local people dance and sing and wear unique attire. 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.   
 
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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.

Cheraw

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. It is believed that the dance form existed in the 1st century AD. 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. Traditional Mizo costumes are worn by the girls making them look as graceful as ever. The main instruments are gongs and drums.

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Khuallam

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. Traditional hand woven Mizo cloth is wrapped around the shoulder. The dance is performed by swaying the fabric.

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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.

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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.

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Food of Mizoram 

The Mizoram cuisine is reflective of a 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.

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Art and Craft of Mizoram

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.

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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. The bride and the bridegroom are not heavily jewelled. Simple and elegant perfectly describe the tone of the Mizo wedding.

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Dresses

Mizoram's culture and heritage is 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 - a top clothing, a legging and a head cloth resembling a dupatta. While Puan is among the favourite clothing, the ones they prefer to wear on occasions and weddings is called a Puanchei. 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 a 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