Sociable, hospitable and fun loving with very strong community
bonds-the Mizos are often referred to as the Songbird of the North
east. This reputation is well entrenched as they are considered
to be one of the finest choir singers in North east India.
The term 'Mizo' is a compound of two words: 'Mi' means People and 'Zo'
Hill. Thus Mizo connotes "hill people" and this term gives a racial
and distinctive ethnic identity to the people of the state.
Clinging to their identity and culture, despite external influences
(which threatened Mizo culture during the turbulent period after
Indian independence), Mizos have ensured that it continues to thrive
with unabated enthusiasm and vigour.
Every major Mizo village now has an YMA (Young Mizo Association)
centre, dedicated to infuse society with its traditional lifestyle and
customs. Some of the most colourful aspects of this revival are
witnessed amongst the folk and community dances that have been handed
down from one generation to the next. It is reflected in the important
harvest festivals that are an intrinsic part of Mizo culture.
Although Christianity brought about a near - total transformation in
the Mizo lifestyle and outlook some customary laws have stayed on. The
efforts of the Missionaries, so it seems, were not directed at
changing the basic customs of the Mizo society presumably because they
saw nothing much wrong with them. The customs and traditions which
they found meaningless and harmful were abolished by persistent
preaching. Thus tea replaced ZU as a popular drink among the Mizos.
Zawlbuk had been replaced by modern education. Animal sacrifices on
ceremonial occasions, which were once an integral part of Mizo
religious system, are now considered anathema. But such
traditions as the payment of bride price are still continued and
encouraged and so are some other customs and community traditions.
The Mizos, being patriarchal, property is inherited by men rather than
women. The family property usually goes to the youngest son although
the father may leave shares to other sons, if he desires. If a man has
no sons, his property is inherited by the next kin on the male side.
If a man dies leaving a widow and minor children, a male relation (who
usually happens to be a brother of the deceased) takes charge of the
family and looks after the property until one of the sons comes of
age. If no such male relative is around, then the widow acts as a
trustee of her husband's property until such times as his son or sons
are old enough to inherit it. However, although the youngest son of
the family is the natural or formal heir to his father under the Mizo
customary laws, in actuality, the paternal property is generally
divided among all sons. The youngest of them gets a preferential
treatment in that he would get the first choice of the articles, and
he would get two shares of the cash in case of one each for the other
brothers. A daughter or a wife can inherit property only if the
deceased has no heir on the male side. Women, however, are entitled to
their own property. The dowry, called thuam, that a girl gets for her
marriage from her parents is exclusively her own property. However, a
written 'will' formally executed may now confer woman
the right to inherit the family property. This is a happy amendment to
the traditional customary laws.The Mizo code of ethics or Dharma moved
round "Tlawmngaina", an untranslatable term meaning on the part of
everyone to be hospitable, kind, unselfish and helpful to
others. "Tlawmngaina" 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 in use to term God till today. The
Mizos have been so enchanted by their new-found faith in Christianity
that their entire social life and thought processes have been
altogether transformed and guided by the Christian Church
organizations directly or indirectly and their sense of values have
also undergone a drastic change.
Mizos are a close-knit society with no class distinction and no
discrimination on grounds of sex. Ninety percent of them are
cultivators and a village exists like a big family. Birth of a child,
marriage in the village and death of a person in the village or
community feast arranged by a member of the village are important
occasions in which the whole village is involved