well within the north-eastern hills, the culture of Mizoram evolved
independent of outside influence. Originating from a
hunting-gathering society, the various tribal festivals too centred
around the societys relationship with the passing of seasons
was just after dawn. Golden sunlight poured over the forested hills,
wisps of woodsmoke arose from the kitchen chimneys to merge with the
bits of grey mists floating around like balls of cottonwool. The
greenbacked hillsides dovetailed with each other forming an endless
wavy pattern, marked here and there by barren rockfaces or a gushing
stream of silver-white water. Little birds twittered merrily, their
joyful chorus heralding the onset of the spring season. Far down
below, the plains of northern India were getting ready to observe
another colourful Holi while here in Mizoram, it was time to
celebrate Chapchar Kut a spring festival with a
difference. In local parlance, kut means festival.
influence brought in by the Christian missionaries and the
politically turbulent period soon after Indian independence pushed
traditional Mizo culture to the brink. It was at this juncture that a
section of the Mizo society realized the need to revive the
traditional culture and the Young Mizo Association (YMA) was born.
With a centre in every town and major village, the YMA has been
slowly infusing the society with the traditional lifestyle and
year, the YMA organises the Chapchar Kut festival in spring,
showcasing the pomp and pageantry of yore. Usually held in early
March, the seven-day festival is held at the stadium next to the
Assam Rifles Ground, located in the heart of Aizawl town. This year,
the final day of the festival coincided with Holi.
children and youth club members prepare for this festival months in
advance. Colourfully attired in their tribal regalia, complete with
feathered headdresses, jewellery, weapons and other props,
participating groups assemble at the stadium early in the morning.
The festival begins with Kut Puipate or the inauguration
ceremony where the visiting dignitaries give speeches and formally
declare the festival open. This is followed by the Then Katna
or the time when the dance groups arrange themselves in the stadium,
putting final touches to their dress, make-up or formations.
Mizo singers enthrall the crowd with their special renderings. The
whole place soon turns into a riot of colour as the Then Hnihna
begins. The elderly members of the society come dressed in their
traditional costumes, representing the individual tribes of the
region and take part in a fantastic procession called the Kut
rore. This is followed by the various tribal dances, the most
important being the Cheraw or the bamboo dance. The
nimble-footed female dancers jump in perfect unison and rhythm as the
men clap the bamboo sticks around their feet and sing loudly. In the
Khuangchawi, a little boy is carried in a bamboo sedan chair
by a colourfully attired group of people amidst loud cheers an
event reminiscent of the times when the tribal chieftain used to be
carried by his men after a successful hunt.
function ends with the Then Thumna or the event where the
local singers once again present the traditional popular numbers and
are joined by the cheering crowd.
to legend, the Chapchar Kut originated when the thoughtfulness
of a tribal chieftain saved his tribe from degenerating into a
good-for-nothing society. It is said that once the male members of
this tribe returned empty-handed from a big hunt. This made everybody
embarrassed and depressed. The chief, seeing his people so downcast,
invited the young men and women to a lavish party and served them
with the traditional rice beer and meat preparations. Soon the party
broke into a happy mood, singing and dancing into the night. The rest
of the people joined them and the crowd spilled over to the field.
The people were once again happy and resumed their work.
the festival became an annual event, celebrated during spring.
Mizoram being a mountainous and forested land, the people followed
the jhum or slash-and-burn cultivation. It involved clearing a
wide tract of land in the forest, felling trees, de-weeding the area
and then preparing it for sowing. It was only at this juncture that
the hardworking people got some spare time and they chose to
celebrate the Chapchar Kut. An unequivocal celebration of
leisure marked by gaiety, feasting and invoking blessings for a
successful harvest, the festival has now turned into a grand
spring is also the best time to visit Mizoram. Besides attending the
festival, the visitor can also take his fill of the beautiful state.
Aizawl a picturesque town located at 4000 feet is a
convenient base to start exploring. Standing on a high ridge, it
commands a fantastic view of the surrounding countryside the
green valleys of the rivers Tiurial and Tlawng on the east and west
respectively, and the craggy Durtlang Hill on the north. Uncrowded
and unspoilt, backpack into the primitive forests or just relax among
the comforts of the scenic tourist lodges run by Mizoram Tourism. The
town is a walkers paradise. The Museum at Mcdonalds Hill
highlights the tribal culture and their handicrafts. The zoological
garden, the Tlangnuam View Point, the Weaving Centre, Bora Bazar,
Lunagmual Handicrafts Centre and the Bung Picnic Spot are some of the
other attractions of Aizawl.
are some interesting excursion points around Aizawl. Eighty-five
kilometres away is the Tamdil Lake nestling in the middle of a
jewel-green forest. Boating facilities are available here. The
Vantawng Waterfalls, 137 kilometres away, is also located within a
tropical green forest. With a couple of days extra, you can also
visit the beautiful, forest-clad hill station of Lunglei in south
Mizoram, 235 kilometres from Aizawl.
their wealth of natural and historical attractions, the north-eastern
hill states are usually shunned by tourists. If you are apprehensive
of the region, Mizoram is an excellent place to start your
familiarization process. Woven into the code of conduct of every Mizo
is the tlawmngaihna that enthuses every person to
be hospitable, kind, unselfish and helpful a term that
cannot be really translated and has to be experienced to be
the capital of Mizoram, is linked to Kolkata by regular Alliance Air
flights and is the most convenient option of getting there. Silchar
(in Assam), 180 kilometres from Aizawl, is the nearest railhead, the
journey by road usually taking five to six hours. Mizoram State
Transport is running passenger services in 33 routes including two
inter-state services to Silchar (in Assam) and Shillong (in
are two state run tourist lodges in Aizawl at Chaltlang and
Luangmual besides a number of private hotels.
Mizoram shares its international borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh,
inner line permits are necessary for tourists visiting the state.
Permits are obtained from the Resident Commissioners office at
New Delhi (Tel: 011-3016408), the Liaison Office at Kolkata (Tel:
033-4757034), Shillong, Guwahati and Silchar. Applications have to be
made on prescribed format along with two passport size photographs.