Mizo - Religion and Expressive Culture



Religious Beliefs. Mizos are ardent followers of Christianity. The great majority are Protestants. They generally donate a portion of the first product of the swidden to their churches during Sunday morning services in the harvest season. The Mizo churches get substantial gifts from followers for the support of their activities. Church denominations include the Welsh Presbyterian, United Pentecostal, Salvation Army, Seventh-Day Adventist, Roman Catholic, London Baptist, Sabbath Church, and cults or sects formed by the late preacher Khuangtua Vanawi, by Mizo Jews, and by other groups. Mizoram was 83.81 percent Christian in 1981.

Religious Practitioners. Each church denomination has its own clergy, trained in Mizoram or in neighboring states. Pastors are transferable from one area to the other. They preach, sing, bless people, and participate in life-cycle rituals. A few are now missionaries in Washington, D.C. In the Village there are exorcists who treat the sick by invoking the blessings of the Holy Ghost and by warding off incursions of Satan. In this matter a belief in spirit possession is predominant.

Ceremonies. Mizos celebrate all Christian festivals, especially Christmas, New Year's Day, and Easter. Discarded traditional festivals ( kut ) are being revived not so much for their cultural content but as traditional identity markers. Carol singing and visiting houses in large groups are very common at Christmas and around New Year's Day.

Arts. Mizos weave designs in cloth, in baskets, and on the handles of their weapons and instruments. Geometric designs and motifs of flowers and plants are popular. Traditional lacquer work in red and black has gradually died out. Mizos are great lovers of Western music. In towns they organize Western music contests. The guitar is the most popular musical instrument. A traditional bamboo dance is very popular, as are church hymns. A big Mizo drum provides the Musical accompaniment.

Medicine. Modern medicine as well as the use of native medicinal plants for sores and wounds are both common.

Death and Afterlife. Mizos bury their dead. The pastor performs the last rites according to the custom of the particular church denomination. They put memorial stones on the burial ground, engraving there the deeds of the deceased.

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