Chapchar Kut — the most joyful festival of the Mizoram, is celebrated in the month of March every year across the state. The festival celebrates the arrival of spring. It is a six days festival and it is considered to be the most important traditional festival of the Mizos and has a distinctive identity of being the oldest festivals of the state.
The festival is commemorated with gusto and fanfare, where thousands of Mizos, irrespective of age, gender, young and old, from all walks of lives, dressed in their colourful attires all poised to perform the colourful Cheraw dance or the bamboo dance, thus heralding the start of the festival for the day.
The other dance forms performed during Chapchar Kut include Khuallam, Chheihlam, Chai and Sarlamkai. This biggest festival of Mizoram also showcase the Handloom and Handicraft products of the state, along with other events like musical competitions, beauty contest, flower shows and food festivals.
Chapchar Kut Origin:
It is believed that Chapchar Kut existed in the land of Mizoram from the era of 1450 to 1600. Chapchar kut is celebrated before the onset of the sowing season. After February Mizos prepare the land for fresh planting. During this time — jungles are cleared, bamboos and trees are cut down, and the land is prepared for jhum cultivation. The cut trees and bamboos are left for drying in the sun before being burnt. This gives the farmers a few days of respite and this free period is celebrated as Chapchar kut.
This is a period of relaxation as the farmers do not have much to do and so spend the time in festivities before the sowing of seeds begin. It is believed that during ancient times people would go for hunting and kill wild animals and catch fish for the feasts. They would also indulge in drinking sessions. It was a time to resolve all the disputes and enjoy the celebrations, filled with music and dance.
How is Chapchar Kut Celebrated?
The festival is celebrated for six days and calls for fun and revelry, to celebrate the success in jhum cutting. First day of the festival is called Lusei Vawktalh, during which pigs are killed by the members of the chief’s clan for the feast. On the second day, is Ralte Vawktalh, where the members of the other clans in the village would kill their pigs for the village feast.
The third day is known as Kut day, young men and young women turned out at night dressed in their fineries – necklaces of amber, ear-rings of ivory and beautiful headgears. Boys and girls formed circles in the village yard-threw their hands over each others swaying to the left and to the right rhythmically to the beat and tune of the drummer and the singer in the middle who keep the timing of his song with the clanking of mithun horns. As the young men and girls dances, the younger boys and girls in midst of the gathering, pours them with rice-beer to quench their thirst while they were dancing. They sing and danced the night away till the wake next morning.
The fourth day is known as Zupui Ni, Zupui is a rice-beer brewed, made from well husked rice and people spend the evening by singing and dancing. Zupui is normally drunk through syphon or pipe immersed into the beer-pot. On this day, Zupui is contributed by various families.
The fifth day is called Zu Thing Chawi Ni, it was customary to try and finish all the Zu (beer) made or collected for the Chapchar Kut. The last day is ‘Eipuar Awm Ni’, a day of rest before the Mizo’s continue with their jhum cultivation or hunting.
Head over here to watch the famous Cheraw dance or the bamboo dance of Mizoram during the Chapchar Kut festival 2012 in the state capital Aizawl.