The traditional repertoire of festival and folk and community dances offer visitors a delightful insight into the tribal heritage of Mizo culture in all its richness and variety. Surprisingly, some of the most popular dances – the Cheraw (bamboo dance), Khuallam, Solakia and Chheih Lam were never created for stage – rather they evolved out a spontaneous community spirit and participation.
At the end of February, when winter starts receding, the Mizos prepare the land for fresh planting. There are few days of relaxation before the serious business of sowing starts and that is when the Chapchar Kut festival (named after bamboo that has been cut and is drying) is celebrated with gaiety and fervour. A spring festival, this is the most important festival and the only one regularly observed during the first week of March in Mizoram.
On this day people of all ages, young and old, men and women dressed in their colourful costumes and distinctive head gears and jewelleries, assemble and perform various folk dances, singing traditional songs accompanied by beating of drums, gongs and cymbals.
They dance in joyous celebration of life, each team displaying the best of its region. These are generally group dances with a lot of bonhomie and courting woven into them. Some dances are strictly martial danced by strong virile warriors with their weapons and trophies.
One dance perennially popular is the Cheraw or the “bamboo dance” so called as long bamboo staves are used for this dance. This is the most colourful and distinctive dance of the Mizos requiring skill and an alert mind to perform.
The other main dances performed during Chapchar Kut are Khuallam, Chheihlam, Chai and Sarlamkai.
“Khual lam” is an auspicious dance performed by a group of dancers celebrating new beginnings. It is also a welcome dance for guests during community festivities. To attain a position of distinction, a Mizo had to go through a series of ceremonies and perform many feats of heroic deeds. These ceremonies are always accompanied by a feast and to this feast, friends from nearby villages are invited – hence, Khuallam is the dance for the visitors or guests.
The “Chheih lam” is another community dance performed by both men and women. The war dance “Solakia”, a prerogative of the male population of the community, is accompanied by rhythmic beating of the drums.
Exhibition and sale of indigenous Handloom and Handicraft products and other tourist attractions like flower show, food festival, musical competition and different traditional games are also organized during the Chapchar Kut festival.
Anthurium festival of Mizoram is the most popular festival celebrated in the state. This festival is celebrated to promote tourism. The Anthurium Festival is organized annually by the Tourism Department in collaboration with the Horticulture Department. The financial support comes from the Central Government. The dual purpose of promoting this festival is; promoting the cultivation, marketing of the enthralling flower and attracting more tourists to the scenic beauties of Mizoram The festival is held every year in September at Tourist Resort Reiek. The festival falls during the peak season of the beautiful and exotic Anthurium. The festival is a three day extravaganza of culture, music, dance, games, sports, fashion, handloom, handicrafts and local cuisine. Archery, rifle shooting, and angling competitions are also major features of this festival. The Festival is held at Reiek Mountain, which is situated at a height of 1584 meters and is an hour drive from Aizawl. The Reiek Mountain is surrounded by thick lush green temperate trees and bushes. The mountain boasts the legendary work, folk lores and feats won by Mizo chief. The mountain acted as a hunting preserve for the Mizo chief. The spirit of celebration rejuvenates the mind and the body, and takes away the stress and monotony of daily life. This festival also serves as a main purpose of bringing togetherness among the different tribes in Mizoram. Anthurium festival showcases the past and present Mizoram with entertainments and also promotes the Mizo culture. The festival has attracted domestic and foreign states to the beauty and culture of Mizoram.
These festivals are celebrated in the last week of November or the first week of December (part of the tourist season) to celebrate the completion of the harvesting season. The entire community joins in the celebration with great enthusiasm, joy and feasting. Traditional folk dances, songs and games are performed during the festival.
One of the major festivals of the Paite community, Khuado Kut is celebrated as a thanksgiving festival when all the harvesting work is done. This festival is held during full moon nights which are regarded auspicious for this event. The term Khuado is a combination of two terms – khua and do. Khua means a village or town. Khua indicates night time or darkness. Khua also refers to the deity Khuanu/Khuazing of the past animistic Paite Zomis. Do on the other hand means to defend oneself. Khuado can be summed up as an event or an occasion in which the villagers fight back the evil spirit and engage themselves in a sort of spirituality. This was done to predict the well being of the village and also wish to have a good harvest for the next season. The festival marks organizing of a mega feast where the whole village, young and old alike share an extravagant meal till the last day of the festival.
The Khuado festival is organized by the village chief who also consults the other elders of the male clan in the dormitory of the village. One or more male dormitory can be present in a village and it also can depend on the size of the village.
Once the dates are announced by the chief, every household in the village gets ready to collect resin (bark of the pine tree) from the forest which serves as the purpose of lighting. Light plays a pivotal role in Khuado festival. Each household lights a torch to ward off the evil spirit of their home. The people of the community shout, chant and produce maximum noise by using any handy instruments like drums, gongs, cymbals and pipes.
This festival is celebrated after the completion of weeding of the land in preparation for the forthcoming harvesting season. This festival also depicts the cultural heritage and the traditional games of the Mizo. It has given the community an opportunity to come together and renew old bonds and ties.
Here Christmas is celebrated for three days starting from 24th till 26th of December. The majority of the population is Christian, so Christmas is one of the most important events of the Mizos. On Christmas Eve, the people start celebration in their homes and on the 25th of December, a grand celebration takes place in the church. On 26th December the people organized a grand and sumptuous feast where everyone from young to old take part and rejoice with great fervour and festivities.