Religion of the Mizos before Their Conversion to Christianity

Abstract— The study sought to see the religious aspects of the Mizos in the pre British era. The researcher examines the pre-Christian Mizo religion, the time, when they were not converted to Christianity through the activities of Christian missionaries. In quest for Mizo religion before their conversion to Christianity it is essential to understand the ‘Mizos’ and for this reason briefing on their history is vital. The idea behind this understanding is that it will analyse the identity of the ethnic tribe and the original form of their social and cultural practices before the coming of alien religion that had left a great impact on the society and culture of this less known tribal group.
Key Words— Mizoram, Lushai, Mizo, Religion, Christian

I. INTRODUCTION

Mizoram was known as Lushai Hill District during the British period. It was incorporated in British India under proclamation by the Governor-General of India in Council on 6th of September, 1895 and ruled till independence in 1947. In 1952, the Lushai Hill District of Assam was upgraded to Autonomous District Council under the Sixth scheduled to the Constitution of India. Later on, the name of the Lushai Hill was changed to Mizo Hill District in 1954 by an Act of Parliament. Mizoram came up as a full-fledge state of the union of India on 2nd February, 1987.

II. METHODOLOGY

The proposed work is based on descriptive method. As the proposed work is confined to the religion of the Mizo before their conversion to Christianity in Mizoram, firstly, I visited various libraries viz., State libraries, District libraries, Church libraries and archives within Mizoram state for the related materials next I visited the above mentioned libraries in other North Eastern states, to see for related materials. Need based materials primary as well as secondary is also collected from published or unpublished books, dissertations, thesis, souvenir, pamphlets, journals etc. in some cases electronic materials is also referred and used.

III. RELIGION

The Mizo religion just like other religions of tribal ethnic groups appears to have ceremonies and sacrifices. It is also seen that they believe in retribution in one form or another after the enemies were killed. The primeval Mizo religion was perhaps 300 years old and had Gods and spirits.
A. Supreme Being
The most important God of ethnic tribe was the ‘Pathian’. He was worshipped with reverence and sacrifices were offered. The tribal people had great respect on this supreme god as he always helps them and was kind hearted.
B. Celestial beings
The celestial being was ‘Pu Vana’ (Father of Heaven), ‘Vanhrika’ (Heavenly being), ‘Vanchung Nula’ (Damsel of the heaven) was active and has contact with human beings. These celestial beings were highly revered in the traditional Mizo society as these celestial being had good contact with the human beings.
C. Benevolent spirits
1) Pathian
Pathian probably means ‘highest God’. It is believed that ‘Pathian’ dwells in heaven. While ‘sakhua’ and other spirits were closely involved in human affairs, ‘Pathian’ was more or less an onlooker from heaven. The ‘Pathian’ was prayed when at times people faced difficulties as he is always looking down to the people and knows who is doing what or at least he is good and in difficulties would always help them.
2) Khuanu
‘Khuanu’, means “mother of nature”. She is the wife of ‘Pathian’ and is benevolent to human. She was believed to be the goddess who always blessed humankind as a mother does.
3) Khuavang
‘Khuavang’ never troubled people and so they are the good spirits. They are believed to live in high places probably a mountain or hill. However, ‘Pathian’ was superior to ‘Khuavang’. ‘Khuavang’ stands for kindness and greatness. ‘Khuavang’ bless the human beings with lots of children and long married life.
4) ‘Pu Vana’
‘Pu Vana’ was a benevolent spirit and was the grand-father of the ‘Pathian’ family, probably the father of ‘Pathian’. He was believed to be the god of nature with power, thunder and lightning.
5) ‘Vanchungnula’
It was believed that ‘Vanchungnula’ was the damsel in the family of ‘Pathian’ and was the goddess of rain and water hence he can be compared with Lord Indra of Hindu religion. It was said that she was the daughter of ‘Pathian’. She pours out water whenever human beings need water.
6) ‘Sakhua’ spirit
The word ‘sakhua’ is a combination of two words, ‘sa’ and ‘khua’. ‘Sa’ means the creator and progenitor of tribe or clan or race; and ‘khua’ means protector who dispenses wellbeing to human beings.  ‘Sakhua’ was the family or clan god.
7) ‘Khaltu’ or guardian spirit
‘Khaltu’ spirit was connected with the life and welfare of individuals. Every living creature was also supposed to have ‘thla’ (soul) and as long as the soul remain in the body the person was a living being. If a person underwent a frightening experience, such as being mauled by wild animals or being captured by an enemy, the soul was similarly frightened and to restore proper and normal relations with the ‘khaltu’, a sacrifice must be made. When the experience was really terrifying, a sacrifice of a goat was made; the tail was cut off and worn round the neck with a string. To break off this string was very serious for the Mizos, perhaps as serious as breaking the sacred tread for Hindus.
8) Malevolent spirits
Mizos believed in the existence of malignant evil spirits who were believed to cause human misery, suffering and misfortunes. Numerous spirits were mentioned in accordance with their abodes.
9) ‘Ramhuai’
‘Ramhuai’ means ‘the malignant spirit of the forest or jungle’ and they existed everywhere in the ‘jhum’ and forest. They often haunted people and appeared in various disguises.
10) ‘Hmuithla’
This evil spirit was believed that they trouble human being and animals. This spirit moves about at dark to find out the human and animals approaching death. This is something like ‘Yamraj’ as is in Hindu religion.
11) Phung
As ‘Phung’ was dark in colour and colossal, it is believed that they caused human to suffer from insanity and epilepsy. Convulsion or spasm in children was also believed to be caused by the displeasure of ‘phung’.
12) ‘Khawhring’
Mizos believed that ‘khawhring’ spirits were in close touch with evil eyes on people‟s food and drink, and thus conceived ‘khawhring’ as “evil eyes”. As these spirits bewitched food and drink, the Mizos therefore offered a portion of food to evil spirits before eating and drinking. If someone was believed to be possessed by ‘khawhring’, killing that person was almost legal.

IV. CONCLUSION

The study reveals that the Mizos had a traditional religion of their own. The primeval religion was full of gods and spirits. These spirits are divided into two, good spirit and bad spirit. Good spirit are the one who do good to human or at least did not harm them, on the other hand the bad spirits are harmful and even fatal at times. They always haunt for human and animals. The Mizos had a great fear for the evil spirits and offered sacrifices to escape from their evil eye. However, they had a systematic presentation of everything that happen in the society. Every sphere of their life is connected connection to spirits, either good or bad.

by – Mina Kumari Deka Research Scholar, CMJ University

2017-05-05T03:46:49+00:00