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Mizos set to celebrate Chapchar Kut

Mizoram will come alive with the dance of the bamboos as it celebrates Chapchar Kut, the traditional festival of Mizos, tomorrow with fanfare and gaiety.

Nilotpal Bhattacharjee   |   Silchar   |   Published 04.03.16, 12:00 AM

Traditional Mizo dance during Chapchar Kut celebrations. File picture

Silchar, March 3: Mizoram will come alive with the dance of the bamboos as it celebrates Chapchar Kut, the traditional festival of Mizos, tomorrow with fanfare and gaiety.

The festival will be organised by the administrations of all eight districts with the biggest celebration at the Assam Rifles ground in Aizawl to be inaugurated by chief minister Lal Thanhawala.

On the first Friday of March, Mizos celebrate Chapchar Kut, before the farmers begin another spell of jhum (shifting) cultivation.

Like other districts, the Kolasib district administration has chalked out plans to celebrate the occasion. Both Kolasib deputy commissioner H. Lalengmawia and superintendent of police C. Lalzahngoa donated a month's salary to the funds for the celebration of the festival.

"Being a bordering district, we have invited deputy commissioners, superintendents of police and district forest officers of Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj in Assam to take part in the celebrations at Tumpui Field in Kolasib to foster better ties and cement mutual understanding between the people of both states," Lalengmawia told this correspondent today.

"Officials from the Vairengte-based Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School have been invited," he added.

The traditional costume parades, showcasing dances like cheraw, chai, chheihlam, sarlamkai and musical performances by groups, among others, will be part of the celebrations. An age-old practice called chhawnghnawh (stuffing of boiled eggs into each other's mouths) will be revived this year in Kolasib.

Historians say Chapchar Kut is an agricultural festival which predates Christianity in Mizoram and has been celebrated for almost 500 years before the arrival of the Gospel in the hills.

It marked the end of the jhum clearing, readying the field for sowing and the festive spirit lasts from three to seven days.

Since the festival had animistic and pagan beliefs woven into it along with the serving of zu (local alcohol), its observance and celebration was strictly discouraged by the missionaries.

In 1960, under the initiative of late Hrangaia, a member of the erstwhile Mizo Hills District Council, the symbolic celebration of Chapchar Kut was again started.

Since then, the festival has been celebrated across the state to commemorate the cultural legacy of the Mizos and to preserve the traditional socio-cultural systems and practices but in tune with Christian beliefs.

The celebration in Kolasib will be inaugurated by state horticulture minister P.C. Lalthanliana, who will also inaugurate a photo exhibition at the venue. Lesser-known dances like siktuithiang lam, khuangchawi, tlanglam, miraung inchuh and chhepchher nena zai will also be performed by schoolchildren and cultural troupes.

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