|With an area of 21,081 square kilometres Mizoram, once a district of Assam, was made into a Union Territory in 1972 and attained full statehood in February, 1987. Although its size is bigger than those of Manipur and Tripura, its population is smaller - 686,217 - according to the 1991 census.
The term Mizo, which means highlander, refers to a composite group of allied tribes. These tribes started moving back into their present abode in India from the Chin hill tracts of Burma towards the beginning of the 18th century. The Lushais, the most dominant group among them, were the first to arrive. Other groups that followed the Lushai migration comprised the Hmars, the Pawis, the Raltes, the Paites, and the Thadous, etc. The Lakhers came somewhat later, and the Chakmas were the last to enter from the Chittagong tract. Initially each tribe or clan was eager to maintain its distinctive identity in respect of dialect, religious beliefs and social customs.
But subsequently a process of integration and assimilation came into play, and there has now developed among them a common identity as Mizos. Although some of th major sub-tribes have retained their separate dialects within themselves, the minor one have given up theirs in favour of the Lushai dialect called Dulien. The Lushai hegemony has been accepted in other socio-cultural fronts as well.
The Mizos are a sturdy people. Their traditional society and culture have been characterised by certain distinctive features:
There are little distinction between high and low. Although the chief had full political authority over his subjects, in social life he was as much a commoner as others. The land belonged to the community, not to individuals; and the crop was shared.
There was an elaborate code of chivalry called plawanghmaina, according to which one's conduct was to be led by consideration for others and the spirit of mutual help.
Zawlbuks or bachelors' dormitories constituted a most vital institution in the society. In the zawlbuks adolescent boys not only slept but also got trained in discipline and service to the community.
An inherent spirit of self-help was nurtured.
Widespread acceptance of Christianity and a high percentage of literacy have caused the Mizo society to move pretty fast along the path of modernity. But there are many indications to show that they are also not in favour of fully giving up traditional ways.
|The highlights of Mizoram are:
• The people and the landscape
• Mizo dance performances
• Champai district
All these highlights and more are the subject of two books by Peter van Ham:
THE SEVEN SISTERS OF INDIA
Tribal Worlds Between Tibet And Burma
IN DEN BERGEN DER KOPFJÄGER
Indiens wilder Nordosten
ARUNACHAL PRADESH, NAGALAND, MANIPUR, ASSAM, TRIPURA, MEGHALAYA,
Christoph von Fuerer-Haimendorf
& Verrier Elwin