The State of Mizoram
by K. L. Kamat
First Online: July 15, 2000
The first thing one notices in Mizoram is how different the Mizo people are from the rest of India. Mizoram, which became the twenty-third state of the Indian Union on the 20th February 1987, is a mountainous region located North-East of the country. It is bordered by Bangladesh in the west, by Myanmar in the east and south, and by Assam and Manipur in the north. The hills are steep and are at an average height of about nine hundred meters. The state has a landscape of great natural beauty and is extremely rich in rare flora and fauna.
Mizoram comes under the direct influence of the Mansoon and it rains heavily from May to September. The average rainfall is 254 centimeters. In order to reach its capital, Aijal, one has to travel 90 km of hilly roads. The picturesque town is built in tiers on the hillside. From here, 100 km further south, is another important town - Lungleh. Here, across the Colodin river, is Saiha, and about 20 km from Saiha are the famous Blue Mountains. From here one can have a breathtaking grandstand view of the Bay of Bengal.
The people of Mizoram are vibrant, sociable with no class distinction. They eat rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as many snacks. The citizens sing in happiness and sorrow alike. In their community dances, gongs and drums are used invariably. 'Sarlamkai' or' Solakis' is a very impressive dance originated from the Pawi and Mara communities in the southern part of Mizoram. It is a warrior dance performed to celebrate a victory in war. No song is sung; only gongs, cymbals and drums are employed to provide the rhythm. Boys and girls, standing in alternate positions, dance in circles. They generally wear colorful dresses, while the leader is dressed as a warrior.
The 'Cheraw' or Bamboo Dance is the most popular and colorful dance of the Mizos. Long pairs of horizontal bamboo staves are tapped open and closed in rhythmic beats by people sitting face to face on the ground. Girls, dressed in the colorful costumes of Puanchei, Vakiria, Kawrchei, and Thihna, dance in and out between the beats of the bamboo sticks.
'Khuallam', meaning 'Dances for the Guests' is performed during the Khuangchawi ceremony where guests are invited into the arena to dance. Puandum, a traditional Mizo cloth with black, red, green and blue strips is wrapped around the shoulders and swayed with the arms and feet in systematic steps.
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