His excellency Chung- Kwang Tien Representative of Taipei Economic and Cultural Centre India gining a speech at Chapchar Kut Festival in Mizoram.
Mizoram, the land of the beautiful Mizo people, is one of the seven sister states of North-east India. One of the oldest festivals of the Mizos held annually in the first week of March is Chapchar Kut, also known as the spring festival of the Mizos.
It is celebrated after the completion of their most laborious task of Jhum i.e. clearing of land through burning. Many people from different parts of the country visit Aizawl to witness and take part in the celebrations.
During the time of festivity, young men get busy preparing the designated place for the celebrations. Young women get busy beautifying themselves. The elderly are busy sitting under the warm spring sun and recollecting their younger days while children are busy running around excited and getting in the way of everybody else. After everything is prepared, the dancing and singing begins.
Some of the famous traditional dances performed during the festivals include ‘Khuallam’ dance, which literally means ‘Dance of the Guests’. This dance is performed mainly on the arrival of important guests at the festival. The traditional hand woven Mizo cloth known as ‘Puandum’ is wrapped over the shoulders of the performers and the dance is performed by swaying the cloth.
Another dance that embodies the spirit of joy and excitement is the Chheihlam dance. The dance is performed to the accompaniment of a folk song sung by a local singer, indeed one of the favorite dances. It is interesting to see a large percentage of people present in the audience join in the dance eventually!
Chailam dance is another popular dance performed on the occasion of ‘Chapchar Kut’. In this dance, men and women stand alternately in circles, with the women holding on to the waist of the man, while the man places his hand on the women’s shoulder. In the middle of the circle are the musicians who play the drums and a mithun’s horn.
The dance performed in large groups – Chawnglai zawn dance, is another important dance of the Mizos. Boys and girls standing in rows dance to the beat of drums.
Tlanglam is one of the most popular dances performed in various parts of Mizoram. Men and women both take part in this dance.
An impressive dance originating from the Pawi and Mara communities in the southern part of Mizoram is ‘Solokia’ dance also known as the War dance. In this dance, the performers wear colourful dresses while the leader is dressed as a warrior.
A very old and well-known dance, also a pride of the Mizo and the star attraction is Cheraw dance commonly known as the bamboo dance. Girls in colourful Mizo costumes of ‘Puanchei or Kawrchei’ wrap-arounds worn mostly by Mizo women at the waist and especially hand-made headgear known as Vakiria with elaborate jewelry, dance gracefully to the beats of gongs and drums, jumping between long bamboo poles clubbed together by the men sitting on the ground. This dance is now performed at all festive occasions.
Chapchar Kut is now one of India’s most colourful festivals and one that portrays the vibrant tradition and culture of the people of Mizoram. It truly lives up to its tag line – ‘The Mizo festival of Joy’!
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