Mizoram is one of the states in North East India. It belongs to the group of seven sister states. The name for the state of Mizoram is derived from Mi = people, Zo = tribe of the Lushai Hills and Ram = land. The people of Mizoram are collectively known as Mizo.
Mizo people are well know for their traditional dances. These dances form an integral part of their festivals and celebrations. Most of the folk dances are performed in groups wearing traditional clothing. Let us view in detail some of the folk dances of Mizoram.
1) Cheraw dance - This dance form is also known as the Bamboo dance, since it utilizes long bamboo staff while dancing. It is done in groups of four. Both men and women dance together. The men hold the bamboos, while women dance in between them by alternatingly stepping in an out of the bamboo. Traditional drums and huge gongs provide music for this dance. Nowadays, modern musical equipment are also used.
Very little is known about the origin of this dance form. Although people believe that this dance form existed during the 1st century AD when mizo people where still a part of Hunan province of China. Various tribes in South Asia have a dance form that is similar to this Bamboo dance. The Mizo people believe that Cheraw is a very special dance to be performed at special occassions. Besides the festivals, Cheraw is performed even after a death of a person. It is believed that the soul receives sanctity through the rhythm and elegance of this dance.
2) Chawnglaizawn dance - This is a unique dance form performed by the Pawi tribe of Mizoram. There are two occasions in which this dance is performed. Interestingly, the two occasions are drastically different from each other - Sorrow/grief and happiness.
If a married woman dies, the husband performs Chawnglaizawn to portray his suffering. He dances till he collapses of exhaustion and can dance no more.
Also, a situation of happiness in which this dance form is seen is welcoming of hunters after a great hunt. Men and women stand side by side and make various hand gestures and movements. A colorful shawl is held in their hands that leads to the beauty of these hand movements.
3) Khullam - Traditionally it means dance of the guests. People are invited to see these performances. The dancers usually wear the Puandam - which is a dress in green, yellow, red and black stripes. This dress is also a symbol of matrimony and all brides wear this on their wedding day. A gong, locally known as Gabru is played. Kullam dance does not have any vocal songs. The dancers dance to the beat of the gong.
4) Sawlakin - This dance form is a warrior like dance, complete with performers holding shields and weapons. This dance form is mainly done by the Pahite tribe. This dance involves both singing and dancing. The costume consists of colorful clothes and ornaments and also a red feather.
5) Sarlamkai/Solakia - This type of dance form is mainly performed by the Maras and Pawi tribes. Solakai is a dance that celebrates victory. Historically, it was done by warriors to display how mighty they are and they can keep the defeated as there slave. This dance has no songs sung by the performers.
6) Chailam - Chapchar Kut is a festival that takes place in March. It is a spring festival that involves burning and clearing the jungle. Chailam dance usually takes place during this festival.
In this dance, the men and women stand alternatively and form a circle. The men hold the women's shoulder and the women in turn hold the men's waist. The musicians playing the drums are in the center. Horns and mithuns are traditionally used. According to legend, this dance is usually done around a a drink of rice beer.
7) Parlam - This is a dance that is performed by females. They wear colorful costumes and flowers in their hair. They sing and dance to their own songs. Music and drums are played by the men.