'country', literally "land of the hill people") is one of the Seven Sister States of the North Eastern India, sharing borders with the states of Tripura, Assam, Manipur and with the neighbouring countries of Bangladesh and Burma. Mizoram became the 23rd state of India on 20 February 1987. Its capital is Aizwal. According to 2011 census report, Mizoram has literacy rate of 91.58%, second only to Kerala. It scores approximately 93.4% in sanitation. Mizoram also has the second-highest urbanisation rate in India with 22 towns included.
Mizoram is a mountainous region which became the 23rd state of the Indian Union in February, 1987. It was one of the districts of Assam until January 21, 1972 when it became a Union Territory. Sandwiched between Myanmar in the east and south and Bangladesh in the west, Mizoram occupies an area of great strategic importance in the northeastern corner of India. The boundaries with Myanmar and Bangladesh total 722 kilometers.
Mizoram has the most variegated hilly terrain in the eastern part of India. Mizoram is a land of rolling hills, valleys, rivers and lakes. The hills are steep (avg. height 1000 metres) and separated by rivers which flow either to the north or south creating deep gorges between the hill ranges. As many as 21 major hill ranges or peaks of different heights run through the length and breadth of the state, with plains scattered here and there. The average height of the hills to the west of the state are about 1,000 metres (3,300 ft). These gradually rise up to 1,300 metres (4,300 ft) to the east. Some areas, however, have higher ranges which go up to a height of over 2,000 metres (6,600 ft). Phawngpui Tlang also known as the
, situated in the south-eastern part of the state, is the highest peak in Mizoram at 2,210 metres (7,250 ft).
Mizoram has a mild 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 summer it varies between 20°C to 29°C. The entire area is under the regular influence of monsoons. It rains heavily from May to September and the average rainfall is 254 cm, per annum. The average annual rainfall in Aizawl and Lunglei are 208 centimeters and 350 centimeters, respectively. Winter in Mizoram is normally rain-free. Mizoram is rich in flora and fauna and many kinds of tropical trees and plants thrive in the area.
The origin of the Mizos, like those of many other tribes in the northeastern India is shrouded in mystery. The generally accepted view is that they were part of a great wave of migration from China and later moved out to India to their present habitat. It is possible that the Mizos came from Sinlung or Chhinlungsan located on the banks of the Yalung River in China. They first settled in the Shan State and moved on to Kabaw Valley.
The origin of the Mizos, like those of many other tribes in the northeastern India, is shrouded in mystery. The people living in the Mizo Hills were generally referred to as the cucis or kukis by their neighbouring ethnic groups which was also a term adopted by the British writers. The claim that The Kukis are the earliest known residents of the Mizo hills area,' must be read in this light. The majority of the tribes classified as "Mizo" today most likely migrated to their present territories from the neighbouring countries in several waves, starting around 1500 CE. The Lushais were the last of the Mizo tribes to migrate to India. The Mizo history in the 18th and 19th century is marked by many instances of tribal raids and retaliatory amount of autonomy was accepted by the government and enshrined in the Six Schedule of the Indian Constitution. The Lushai Hills Autonomous District Council came into being in 1952 followed by the formation of these bodies led to the abolition of chieftainship in the Mizo society. The autonomy however met the aspirations of the Mizos only partially. Representatives of the District Council and the Mizo Union pleaded with the States Reorganization Commission (SRC) in 1954 for integration of the Mizo-dominated areas of Tripura and Manipur with their District Council in Assam. The tribal leaders in the northeast were laboriously unhappy with the SRC recommendations. They met in Aizawl in 1955 and formed a new political party, Eastern India Union (EITU) and raised their demand for a separate state comprising of all the hill districts of Assam. The Mizo Union split and the breakaway faction joined the EITU. By this time, the UMFO also joined the EITU and then understanding of the Hill problems by the Chuliha Ministry, the demand for a separate Hill state by EITU was kept in abeyance.
In 1959, the Mizo Hills was devastated by a great famine known in Mizo history as 'Mautam Famine'. The cause of the famine was attributed to flowering of bamboos which resulted in a boom of the rat population. After eating bamboos seeds, the rats turned towards crops and infested the huts and houses and became a plague to the villages. The havoc created by the rats was terrible and very little of the grain was harvested. For sustenance, many Mizos had to collect roots and leaves from the jungles. Still others moved to far away places, and a considerable number died of starvation. In this hour of darkness, many welfare organizations tried their best to help starving villagers. Earlier in 1955, the Mizo Cultural Society was formed with Pu Laldenga as its secretary. In March 1960, the name of the Mizo Cultural Society was changed to 'Mautam Front'. During the famine of 1959-1960, this society took the lead in demanding relief and managed to attract the attention of all sections of the people. In September 1960, the Society adopted the name of Mizo National Famine Front (MNFF). The MNFF gained considerable popularity as a large number of Mizo Youth assisted in transporting rice and other essential commodities to interior villages.
Birth of Mizoram state
Rajiv Gandhi's election to power following his mother's death signaled the beginning of a new era in Indian politics. Laldenga met the prime minister on 15 February 1985. Some contentious issues which could not be resolved during previous talks were referred to him for his advice. With Pakistan having lost control of Bangladesh and no support from Pakistan, the Mizo National Front used the opportunity that had now presented itself. New Delhi felt that the Mizo problem had been dragging on for a long time, while the Mizo National Front was convinced that bidding farewell to arms to live as respectable Indian citizens was the only way of achieving peace and development. Statehood was a prerequisite to the implementation of the accord signed between the Mizo National Front and the Union Government on 30 June 1986. The document was signed by Pu Laldenga on behalf of the Mizo National Front, and the Union Home Secretary R.D. Pradhan on behalf of the government. Lalkhama, Chief Secretary of Mizoram, also signed the agreement. The formalization of the state of Mizoram took place on 20 February 1987. Chief Secretary Lalkhama read out the proclamation of statehood at a public meeting organised at Aizawl's parade ground. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi flew in to Aizawl to inaugurate the new state. Hiteshwar Saikia was appointed as Governor of Mizoram.
The great majority of Mizoram's population is comprised of several ethnic tribes who are either culturally or linguistically linked. These myriad ethnic groups are collectively known as the Lushais/Lusais (People who play with heads) /Luseis (Long-Headed people) or otherwise called Mizos both of which are umbrella terms. These days, there is an escalating awareness of the importance of unity among all the Mizo tribes living in different parts of the northeastern states of India, Myanmar and Bangladesh. The Mizos are divided into numerous tribes, the largest of which is possibly the Lushais, which comprises almost two-thirds of the state's population. Other Mizo tribes include Hmar, Mara, Paite, Pawi, Ralte. The Riang, a subtribe of Tripuri and the Chakma of Arakanese origin, are a non-Mizo tribe living in Mizoram.
Some 87% of the population (including almost all ethnic Mizos) is Christian. The major Christian denominations are the Presbyterian, Baptist Church of Mizoram, Salvation Army, Seventh-day Adventist Church, Roman Catholic, and the Pentecostals. The Chakma practice Theravada Buddhism mixed with elements of Hinduism and Animism.
In recent decades a number of Southeast Asian-looking tribespeople from Mizoram, Assam, and Manipur have claimed themselves as Jews. This group is known collectively as the Bnei Menashe, and include Chin, Kuki, and Mizo. Several hundred have formally converted to Orthodox Judaism, many openly practise an Orthodox type of Judaism. The Bnei Menashe do not see themselves as converts, but believe themselves to be ethnically Jewish, descendants of one of the Lost Tribes of Israel (see Bnei Menashe). The Jewish population of the Bnei Menashe currently is estimated at 9,000 people.
Other faiths include Hindus who form a very small minority in the state, at 3.6% of the population following the religion. Muslims also form a small minority with 1.1% of the population following the faith.
Hand looms & handicrafts
Mizo women typically use a hand loom to make clothing and other handicrafts, such as a type of bag called Pawnpui and blankets. The Mizo rarely did much craft work until the British first came to Mizoram in 1889 when a demand for their crafts was created with this exposure to foreign markets. Currently, the production of hand looms is also being increased, as the market has been widening within and outside Mizoram.
Mizoram is considered by many as a beautiful place due to its dramatic landscape and pleasant climate. There have been many attempts to increase revenue through tourism but many potential tourists find the lack of amenities to be a hurdle. However, the State continues to promote itself and many projects have been initiated. The tourism ministry continues to maintain or upgrade its tourist lodges throughout the state. Foreign tourists are required to obtain an 'inner line permit' under the special permit before visiting. The permit can be obtained from Indian missions abroad for a limited number of days or direct from Mizoram Government authorities within India. The state is rich in bird diversity, which has the potentiality to make it a major birding destination. For Mrs Hume's Pheasant Syrmaticus humiae
, Mizoram is a stronghold.
There is also a rare record of the Wild Water Buffalo from the state.
There are several records of the Sumatran rhinoceros from Mizoram, then Lushai Hills.
The small population of wild elephants can be seen in Ngengpui and Dampa Sanctuaries.
With its abundant scenic beauty and a pleasant climate, Mizoram hopes to develop its tourist-related industries. Specific tourist projects can be developed to put Mizoram on the "tourist map" of India. With the development of Reiek resort centre and a number of other resort centres in and around Aizawl, as well as establishment of tourist's huts across the entire state, tourism has been much developed. The ever smiling faces of the Mizos is an experience to cherish, and gives new meaning to life.
Tourists require a special permit for visits.
Culture and arts
Mizo traditional tunes are very soft and gentle, so that they can be sung the whole night without the slightest fatigue.The guitar is a popular instrument and Mizos enjoy country style music. Even without musical instruments, the Mizo can enthusiastically sing together by clapping hands or any materials which can produce complimentary sound. All these informal instruments are called Chhepchher. The Mizo in the early period were very close to nature and that music was the tune of their life. Within the church services are drums, commonly used and known locally as "khuang". "khuang" is made from wood and animal hide, to accompany their singing in churh services as well as cultural festivities. western influence is evident from the contemporary music scene though, with experiments in genres such as rock, pop and hip-hop, to name a few.
Modern Mizos are fast giving up their old customs and adopting the new ways of life which are greatly influenced by western cultures. Music is a passion for the Mizos, and the youth especially have become quite enamored of western music.
The Mim Kut festival is usually celebrated during the months of August and September, after the harvest of maize. Mim Kut is celebrated with great fanfare by drinking rice-beer, singing, dancing, and feasting. Samples of the year's havests are consecrated to the departed souls of the community. Mizos practise "slash and burn" (Juhm) cultivation. They clear areas the jungle, burn the stumps and leaves of the downed trees, and then cultivate the land. All their other activities revolve around the Jhum operation and their festivals are all connected with such agricultural operation.
Chapchar Kut is another festival celebrated during March after completion of their most arduous task of Jhum operation i.e., jungle-clearing (clearng of remainings of burnt area). This is a spring festival celebrated with great fervour and gaiety.
Pawl Kut is a festival celebrated in December to commemorate the end of harvest season. It is perhaps the greatest Mizo festival.
The most colourful and distinctive dance of the Mizo is called Cheraw. Long bamboo staves are a feature of this dance and it is known to many as the Bamboo Dance. Originally, the dance was performed to wish a safe passage and victorious entry into the abode of the dead (Pialral) for the soul of a mother who had died in childbirth. To dance Cheraw takes great skill and alertness.
Khuallam was originally a dance performed by honoured invitees while entering into the arena where a community feast was held. To attain a position of distinction, a Mizo had to go through a series of ceremonies where friends from nearby villages were invited and Khuallam was the dance for the visitors or guests. Khuallam is performed by a group of dancers, the more the merrier, in colourful profiles to the tune of gongs and drums.
Chheih Lam is the dance done over a round of rice-beer in the cool of the evening. The lyrics in triplets are usually spontaneous compositions, recounting their heroic deeds and escapades and also praising the honoured guests present in their midst.
The fabric of soial life in the Mizo society has undergone tremendous change over the last few years. Before the British arrived in these hills, for all practical purposes, the village and the clan formed units of Mizo society. The Mizo code of ethics or dharma focused on "Tlawmngaihna", an untranslatable term meaning that it was the obligation of all members of society to be hospitable, kind, unselfish and to be helpful to others. Tlawmngaihna to a Mizo stands for that compelling moral force which finds expression in self-sacrifice for the service of others. The old belief, Pathian, is still used to mean God. Many Mizos have embraced their new-found faith of Christianity. Their sense of values have also undergone a drastic change and are largely being guided (directly and indirectly) by the Christian church organisations.
Mizos are a close-knit society with no class distinction and no sexual discrimination. 90% of them are cultivators and the village functions as a large family. Birth, marriage and death in the village are important occasions in which the whole village is involved.