Mizo people have a variety of dances which are accompanied by a few musical instruments like the gong and drum. The folk dance and music of Mizoram, a bit like everywhere else, is interesting, delightful, and reflects the colorful spirit of the locales. Most of the dance forms here are group dances. Cheraw is the major dance form of this northeast Indian state. Also mentioned as bamboo dance, Cheraw is one of the oldest dances of the Mizos.
People use long bamboo staves during this dance form. Girls wear traditional Mizo costumes and therefore the dance is performed with great precision. most instruments used are drums and gongs.
Traditional Dances of Mizoram:
1. Chailam – Dance of Mizoram
Chailam may be a popular dance performed on ‘Chapchar Kut’ one of the most important festivals of the Mizos. During this dance, men and ladies stand alternatively in circles, with the ladies holding on to the waist of the man, and therefore the man on the woman’s shoulder.
2. Khuallam – Dance of Mizoram
Khuallam literary means ‘Dance of the Guests’. It is a dance usually performed in the ceremony called ‘Khuangchawi’. To claim a distinguished place in society and to have a place in paradise or Pialral one must attain the coveted title of ‘Thangchhuah’.
3. Cheraw – Dance of Mizoram
Cheraw may be a very old traditional dance of the Mizos. Believed that the dance had already existed way back in the 1st Century A.D., while the Mizos were still somewhere within the Yunan Province of China, before their migration into the Chin Hills within the 13th Century A.D., and eventually to this Mizoram. Several tribes living in Southeast Asia have similar dances in one form or the other with different names.
4. Sarlamkai/Solakai – Dance of Mizoram
This is an impressive dance originating from the Pawi and Mara communities in the southern part of Mizoram. This dance is understood as ‘Sarlamkai’ whereas the Lushai’s referred to it as ‘Rallu Lam’. In older days when the various tribes were constantly at war with each other, a ceremony to deride the vanquished beheaded skull of the enemy was usually held by the victor.
This ceremony is performed to make sure that the vanquished soul remains a slave to the victor even when the latter also dies. The derision ceremony usually lasts for 5(five) days. The primary 2 (two) days were spent in merry making, singing alongside drinks and a non-vegetarian feast.
On the third day, a pig is slaughtered, and the victor paints his whole body with the animal’s blood, which he only washes off on the evening of the fourth day or on the morning of the fifth day. During these 5(five) days period, the victor isn’t to sleep with any women.
5. Chawnglaizawn – Dance of Mizoram
This is a popular folk dance of one of the Mizo communities known as Pawi. This dance is performed on two different occasions.
6. Chheihlam – Dance of Mizoram
Chheihlam’ originated after the year 1900 along the lines of the songs referred to as ‘Puma Zai’ and the dance known as ‘Tlanglam’. It is a dance that embodies the spirit of joy and exhilaration. Performed to the accompaniment of a song called ‘Chheih hla’. People squat around during a circle on the floor, and sing to the beat of a drum or bamboo tube while a pair of dancers substitute the middle, recite the song and dance together with the music.
7. Tlanglam – Dance of Mizoram
Tlanglam performed throughout the length and breadth of the State. Music of Puma Zai, there are several variations of the dance. This dance is one of the most popular dances these days by our cultural troupes in various places. Both sexes participate in this dance.
8. Zangtalam – Dance of Mizoram
Zangtalam may be a popular Paihte dance performed by men and women. While dancing, the dancers sing a responsive song. A drummer may be a leader and director of the dance. The duration of the dance depends on the drummer.
Folk Musical Instruments of Mizoram:
Musical Instruments of Mizoram can divide into three: Beating or Striking instruments; wind instruments and string instruments. Several striking instruments include drum, gong, and a few more. Several wind instruments are Tumphit, Raychem, Phenglawng and a lot more. The stringed instruments contain Lellawi, Tingtang and Tuium Dar. The musical instrument of Mizoram forms a serious part of the folk music of the state.
Lemlawi is an instrument made from small pieces of bamboo. The string is Laos and made up of bamboo. The sound produced by the string is controlled by the mouth.
Tuium Dar may be a musical instrument made of bamboo. The three strings produce three different notes. From the outer covering, three pieces of cane like strings curved out. The strings were raised by inserting two bamboo pieces.
This instrument may be a must on all occasions. Khuang is formed of hollow trees and both sides are wrapped with animal skin. Different names are consistent with their size and length. the large one is known Khuangpui (Big drum), the center one is known as Khuanglai; and the small one is Khuangte (little drum). If it’s long, it is known as Kawlkhuang.
It has some similarities with the xylophone. It consists of a series of flat wooden bars that produce three musical notes. Girls often play this.
It is an instrument that is much bigger than that of Bengbung. It constitutes of three wooden pieces which curved out. Often played with a wooden hammer. The Mizo takes Talhkhuang only to Lungdawh which may be a platform at the entrance of the village.
Made of three small bamboos which are of different sizes and lengths. These are tied and plated during a row with strings. At different lengths, the upper ends are cut open to create different notes at each tube. Tumphit is used during ritual ceremonies, especially on Rallulam and chawng festival.
Tawtawrawt may be a Bamboo trumpet. Bamboos are digging in different sizes. The smaller one is inserted into the larger tube. Many joined one after another till the last tube happens to be the dimensions of a forefinger.
This is often the Mizo flute made of bamboo. This had only three holes that produce three different sounds.
This is often a flute made of reed or a paddy stalk. Girls often generally play this.
The leaves of the many trees produce interesting sounds. The Mizo boys blow it deftly.
This is often a set of three brass-gongs that are of different sizes. It produces three musical notes. Generally, three experts often play this. It’s used on certain occasions like Khuallam and group dances that are traditional.
Darmang is the smallest gong. It must play with other gongs. It’s used in traditional dances to keep timing.