Chapchar Kut is one of the oldest festivals celebrated in Mizoram, Myanmar and few of the other north-eastern states in India. It is celebrated during the month of March, after clearing the remnants of jhumming (slash and burn agriculture). It is celebrated with great pomp and glory.
Chapchar Kut literally means – a festival held during the period when the bamboos and trees that have been cut down are being awaited to dry to be burnt for jhumming.
During this brief layoff period of jhumming, the Mizo ancestors could have all the time for themselves. They spend their leisure hunting games, fishing, etc. Chapchar Kut festival evolved sometime between 1450 -1600 A.D. when the Mizo forefathers inhabit Lentlang.
In the olden days, the festival could last for days and in the run-up to the grand finale, there are well laid down steps to be followed. Everyone in the village has a role to play; of course, the youths were most involved in every stage of the preparation and in the festival itself.
Designed to be a festival of joy, all disputes and differences that may be there in the community should be settled, even altercation between married couples was a taboo during the celebration of the festival. An abundant supply of meat must be there and home-brewed liquor must be over-flowing to keep their spirit high. They danced away all their cares and made merry all night long. That sums up how the Mizos celebrate Chapchar Kut in the olden days when they were heathens.
The ceremonies are accompanied by a feast. Friends from nearby villages are invited to this feast and Khuallam or the welcome dance is performed to greet the visitors and guests.
Exhibition and sale of native Handloom and Handicraft products are organized during the festival. Other tourist attractions like flower show, food festival, music competition and different traditional games are also organized during the festival.
The modern version of Chapchar Kut has done away with liquor, which was once a part and parcel of the festival. Even so, the present generation is not in any way lacking in keeping the spirit of the festival fever pitch high. In fact, Mizoram has been a dry state for years; the Young Mizo Association (YMA), the largest NGO in the state, is combating drug and alcohol on a war footing starting this year and they are also very much a major player in organising Chapchar Kut.
But who says one needs a bottle of rum to be merry! The younger generation of the Mizos has invented for themselves enthralling music..music…and more music to drowned themselves in. This was evident, as it always is wherever a dozen or so Mizo youths congregate, in the Chapchar Kut festival.
The crowd went berserk when the choicest of the Mizo pop divas performed Mizo songs. Right from toddlers to policemen, who were supposed to keep watch, was practically dancing.