Mizoram name is derived from Mi (people), Zo (Belonging to the people of Mizoram/Lushai Hills) and Ram (land), and thus Mizoram implies "land of the hill people". 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. Aizawl is its capital. In the northeast, it is the southern most landlocked state sharing borders with three of the seven sister states, namely Tripura, Assam, Manipur. The state also shares a 722 kilometer border with the neighbouring countries of Bangladesh and Myanmar.
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 tress and plants thrive in Mizoram. The hills are marvelously green.
The upper part of the hills are, predictably cold, cool during the summer, while the lower reaches are relatively warm and humid. Storms break out during March-April, just before or around the summer. The maximum average temperature in the summer is 30 degree C while in the winter the minimum average temperature is around 11 degree C. The four months between November and February are winter in Mizoram which is followed by the spring. The storms come in the middle of April to herald the beginning of the summer. The mercury starts rising and the hills come under the cover of a haze. The three months from June to August are know as the rainy season. The climate as at its moderate best in the two autumnal months. September and October, when the temperature moves between 19 to 24 degree C.
Taken all in all, Mizoram is made up of wooded hills, swift flowing rivers quicksilver streams and still lakes, the combination of all this is a rarity. And it is the combination of these physical features that has given Mizoram its own charm and fascination.
The people :
Historian believe that the Mizos are a part of the great wave of the great wave of the Mongolian race spilling over into the eastern and southern India centuries ago. Their sojourn in Western Burma, into which they eventually around seventh century, is estimated to last about two centuries. They came under the influence of the British Missionaries in the 9th century, and now most of the Mizos are Christians. One of the beneficial result of Missionary activities was the spread of education. The Missionaries introduced the Roman script for the Mizo language and formal education. The cumulative result is high percentage 95 % ( as per National Sample Survey 1997-98) which is considered to be highest in India. The Mizos area distinct community and the social unit was the village. Around it revolved the life of a Mizo. Mizo Village is usually set on the top of a hill with the chief's house at the centre and the bachelor's dormitory called Zawlbuk, prominently . In a way the focal point in the village was the Zawlbuk where all young bachelors of the village slept. Zawlbuk was the training ground, and indeed, the cradle wherein the Mizo youth was shaped into a responsibility adult member of the society.
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 area 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.
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 home made rice beer zu. Dedicated to the memory of their dead relatives, the festival is underlined by a spirit of thanksgiving and remembrance of the years 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
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.
Clothing: The original garment of the Mizos is known as puan. They were used by men and women more or less in the same fashion. One has to see them to believe the intricate traditional designs woven by the Mizo women, born weavers who produce what can only be described as art on their looms. The Mizo have held on to certain patterns and mottos that have come down through the ages. These design have become deep rooted in their tribal consciousness and has become a part of the Mizo heritage. The unique value of Mizo PUAN comes from the personal involvement of the weaver, who with great labour weaves her dreams into each work and weft until every design has a story to tell. These traditional hand woven apparels are of different shades and designs without exquisite play of colour combination and intricate weaving patterns has been evolved. Some of the common clothing or puan are :-
Puanchei: It is by far the most colourful costume and is used by every Mizo lady.
Kawrchei: A distinctive blouse of the ladies
Ngotekherh: This traditional puan is won round the waist originally it was a men's puan but now it is worn by men and women alike.
Hmar am : Originally this was a small hand woven cloth of handspun cotton and indigo dye.
Cyhna Hno: It is a beautiful embroidered silk puan of the Mara's. It is used by both men and women.
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.
Bihar became the first state in India to have separate web page for every city and village in the state on its website www.brandbihar.com (Now www.brandbharat.com)
See the record in Limca Book of Records 2012 on Page No. 217