Halloween party ideas 2015

The Hmar tribe's traditional institution can be grouped under different heads such as the family, clanship, marriage, Buonzawl (Youth dormitory), the Chief and his Councilors, the Priest, the Village Crier, the Blacksmith and the Youth Commander.

The family was the smallest unit in every social kinship system throughout the world and is also the first centre of learning or in other words, the first institution. It is the first major tendency to introduce the child to his many social roles. The family also acts as important educational institution for the child as he learns to live in the society. Opportunity is given ti him each day to observe family administration through a trained and experience head of the family. He learns to respect his parents and elders. He learn to share, to play, to cooperate and to conduct himself before is called upon to shoulder public responsibility. He cannot be selfish in such a family set-up, and corporate life of the most congenial type is cultivated. Educational activities and processes surround him from sunrise to sundown. He is thoroughly educated to perpetuate the religion, culture and tradition of his family before he leaves his parents to start a new home of his own.

A Hmar family usually comprise of the grandparents, the husband and wife, married and unmarried children and grand children. The father is the head of the family and is the presiding authority in all socio-religious matters of the family and also, the representative of the family in all community affairs. His decision is always final and binding. The father enjoys widespread and unquestioned authority from his subordinates. The relationship between a father and the offspring was of respect and obedience on the part of the offspring and authority on the part of the father.

Mealtime is regarded as the best time for family discussion of any matters and topic as this is the only time were they usually attend to one common thing in a day, Children are taught the value of life, the need to respect their elders, what to do and what not to do, etc during this time.


The Hmars social structure is based on Tribe-Clan-sub clan-Family-Individual category. They have a strong social interactions based o Tribes as a whole not only on the basis of clans. There are as much as 24 different clans found among the Hmars. Each of these clans is divided into sub- clans. Each of these clans resides in a particular area or village and many of the villages are named on the name of the clan occupying it (Dr. Laldena, 1995). Clanship among them does no regulate marriage rules. An individual can select his mate from any clan including his own. But the incidence of preferential marriage is not rare as reflected from some of their kinship terminology (Mother-Brother -Daughter). There is no rule prohibiting clan endogamy or exogamy. These clans are further sub divided into 180 sub clans/families. The Zote clan have the largest sub group numbering as many as 14 and Sakum clan is without any sub clan. Hmar society is patrilineal. It is obligatory for the clan members to help each other during agricultural operations, house construction, and birth and death ceremonies.

A Hmar can marry any woman except a consanguineous kin. Traditionally, marriage with the mother’s brother’s daughter was preferred. The Hmars are monogamous. In olden days, a chief desired to marry another chief’s daughter.

Kinship Terminology
Hmâr terms English translation
Zuo-pa, Pa ------------Father
Chuon-nu, nu
------------ Step-father
------------ Step-mother
-------------------- Elder
----------------- Elder brother
------------ -----Elder sister
--------------Younger brother
--------------Younger sister
------------------- Grand father
--------------------Grand mother
-------------- Female relative’s husband
Mo (Mou)
-----------------Father’s younger brother
----------------- Father’s younger sister
----------------Father’s elder brother
-----------------Father’s elder sister
----------------Mother’s elder brother
----------------Mother’s elder sister or father’s elder brother’s wife
------------------Mother’s brother
-------------- Brother
---------------- Female relative from the same clan
----------------Male relative from the same clan
------------------Sister’s younger brother son
---------------- Two mâk-pa who married a girls from the same clan/sisters
------------------Grandson or Father’s sister’s son
------------------Granddaughter or Father’s sister’s daughter

Marriage is either by mutual consent or elopement; the latter is less respectable though. At first, the boy and girl go through a period of courtship, usually at the girl’s residence. When the boy wishes to marry, he sends messengers to the girl’s parents to settle the marriage. The clan members of the boy and girl then go through a period of negotiation and work out the details of the marriage. After a certain day is agreed upon on, the marriage takes place in the church in front of a pastor. The amount of bride price ranges from Rs.300 to Rs. 500.The amount is divided among the kin of the bride’s family. The major share goes to the bride’s father and smaller amounts are given to the paternal and maternal relatives. The rule of residence after marriage is patrilocal. In case the girl seeks a divorce, she has to persuade her parents to agree to refund the bride price, which they have received, called “sum insuo”. In case of the boy, he simply gives a sum of Rs. 40 to the girl, called “mâkman”. The bride price of the boy is forfeited if the divorce is initiated by the boy. Widows can remarry again, and this is practiced by quite a good number of divorcees.

One of the most important characteristics features of any olden tribal society is the existences of one social institution called dormitory for the youth. The origin of this important institution known as, Buonzawl or Sier in a Hmar village was lost in oblivion. It was invariably built in the largest open area in the centre of the village near the Chief’s house. The Hmar of Mizoram and those villages bordering something called this dormitory as Zawlbuk, like the Lushais. This important dormitory institution can be regarded as the most effective agency of education among the Hmars as well as their kindred tribes before the introduction of modern system of education in their areas and, in the absence of any formal educational system.

Buonzawl is built and operated by the whole village community. It is similar to other houses in materials but different in shape and size. A single entrance obtains access to the building by a platform of rough wood at the uphill end. A large fireplace is constructed in which a fire is kept burning day and night. Right by the fire is an open space used for recreation including wrestling and dances. This particular place, according to some writers is what was known’s as the ‘Buonzawl’. The Hmar term of ‘Buon’ means ‘wrestling’ and ‘zawl’ means “a flat surface” or “an open space”. There are sleeping platforms on all side of the wall except the front part. All the male youth of the village who had attained puberty are supposed to sleep here at night. Each young boy in the village is under obligation to supply fire wood for the Buonzawl and failure of which will be reprimanded or punish by the Val Upa or Youth Commander.

Its role and importance:
i) Security: In the earlier tribal societies, it was a common affair to attack the people of another tribe for some reason or the other. This led to inter-tribal feuds endangering the peaceful living of the common people. More detrimental than this barbarous act was an inter-clan feud that commonly occurred among the tribes for want of being dominant over the other. For this reason, it became necessity for all the young man to sleep together in one place in order to protect the village from the enemy, or prepared them for any emergency. To meet such a possible attack, a collective action with prompt move was more desirable. The Buonzawl served as a control room in times of such an emergency. The Pawi (Lai) and the Lakher Mara tribes who are now mostly concentrated in the southern part of present Mizoram state do not have this type of institution. The Pawis claimed that they, being a dominant tribe or clan do not fine any reason to have such an institution. As such, the security factor can be attributed as one of the most important reason for the origin of ‘dormitory house’ in many tribal societies. War strategy or, hunting expedition are discussed and planned here under the leadership of the Val- Upas.

ii). Education: Buonzawl, at the beginning was just like any other hall meant for discussing matters concerning the public, but it was later developed into a kind of institution where youngsters were given rigorous training in the art of tribal war, discipline, wrestling and village administration. Besides, the Buonzawl played a very significant role in imparting the tribal philosophy of life, Tlawmngaina, an untranslatable term binding all to be hospitable, kind, unselfish and helpful to others- a moral force which finds expressions in the self sacrifice for the service of others. Buonzawl also gives an important opportunity for the boys to socialize by mixing and sleeping with others. The boys also learnt how to respect the elders, one very important moral duty of every human being and prepared them to be a better man.

iii). Recreation & Guest House: As the name implies, the Hmars’ ‘Buonzawl ’is a ‘wrestling place’ or, a ring. Wrestling is one of the most important forms of recreation and games. All male visitors to the village and guest who are younger than forty are required to sleep in the Buonzawl. A wrestling match quickly arranged and the visitor cannot escape the challenge. Wrestling here is different from others in that the wrestler’s sole intention is not to hurt but to cultivate friendly feeling. Even the Reverend Edwin Roland, one of the English pioneer missionary among the Mizo tribes, along with his teammates Vanchhunga, Savawma and Taitea were spared from this type of challenge and had to agree to it in one small village called Sihfa in the den Lushai Hills. When a wrestling match is over, the Val-Upa will send the boys to collect cloths enough to keep their guest warm through the night. The Buonzawl is not that cold even in winters as the ‘fire’ is always kept burning to give warmth to the inmates.

Abolition of Buonzawl: Like any other tribal traditions and customs, the Buonzawl also could not withstand the force of social changes that took places in a fast and forceful pace. Of all the forces that contributed for the decaying of this important tribal institution, the coming of Christianity along with the introduction of modern education can be regarded as the most important and forceful because, with the little formal education they got from the Christian missionaries in the Churches and schools, parents began to feel that they could control their children better at home than the Buonzawl and were prepared to send their children to school where the children could gain more educationally. The relatively peace and calm atmosphere maintained by the British administrators and the under mining power of the village chiefs may also be attributed to the down fall of the Buonzawl.
This very important traditional house of education was completely abolished in the then Lushai Hills in the year 1938. While the Val-Upas also lost their powers and popularity with the immediate establishment of the Young Lushai Association (latter changed into Young Mizo Association), the Hmars somehow withstand that change- of-guard and retain the Val-Upas with more vigour and go without their own Hmar Youth Association till April 7, 1985.


The Hmar society, from time immemorial, has a complex and complicated political set-up. Political set up and hierarchies were divided into various capacities.

A. The Chief: The Hmars were once a nomadic tribe and their frequent movements and migrations were solely motivated by economic forces; that is, the search for a better cultivable land. In their grim struggle for existence and their constant war with other tribes, they must have needed at that stage of their evolution a strong leader who could maintain the cohesiveness of the society and also protect it from external aggressions. Thus, a person who has the capacity to lead the people in their struggle for charisma and the readiness on the part of his followers to conform to the institution or models laid down by him, emerges as ‘Lal’ (chief) and are being recognized as such by the people.

The Chief was entitled a certain portion of paddy harvested by their subjects and also the foreleg of each four legged wild animals shot or trapped by the villagers. If a villager decided to migrate to another village regardless of the Chief’s order, the Chief could confiscate his property. And if he sold a ‘Mithun’ or any other cattle to other villagers, some specified portion of the price was to be given to the Chief. The right of the Chief to these services were in fact the foundation of is political power and his accumulated wealth, which enable him to command respect and loyalty of his own clan or tribe and other clans or tribes. This practice actually amounted to virtual recognition of the Chief as the supreme authority and the sole owner of the land.

Though the Hmar Chiefs wielded immense power, they hardly lost their democratic character. Theoretically though all the land belongs to him, yet the owners and the Chiefs were only the distributors of these lands. They also had according to the advice of the Council of Ministers called ‘Khawnbawl’ and the prevailing societal rules and regulations. He hardly takes decisions independently. However, one point to be noted here is that the Hmar societies being highly patriarchal, involvement of women in village administration is practically nill.

B. The village Council and Counselors: In each Chiefdom, there was a Village Council. The specific character, composition and methods of function of the Council varied from clan to clan or from village to village. The Chief was the supreme head of the Council. Below the Chief were the Muolkil, Mitha (Chief Counselor) and ordinary Khawnbawls (Counselors). In the absence of the Chief, the Chief Counselor took the place of the Chief and presided over the meetings. The Counselors who were selected by the Chief himself were normally wealthy and influential group of persons, kinsmen or close friends of the Chief. They were rewarded with the most fertile ‘Jhum lands’ and also exempted from forced labour *this point needs to be elaborated. Thus, the Chief and the Counselors were in a sense, constituted a privileged group in a traditional Hmar society and Village Council through which they operate, tended to serve their own personal interest many a times.

In Manipur, with the enactment of the Manipur Village Council Act of 1956, the office of the Chief was diminished to a great extent though its total abolishment could not be completed due to opposition from various quarters especially the Thadou-Kuki community in particular. In the bordering state of Mizoram, the institution of the Chief was already abolished in 1946 with the then Mizo Union, the first political organization of the Mizos spearheading the movement for the same. Under the Act of 1956, the Chief was made the Chairman of the Village Authority without any other discretionary powers. Even the benefits he usually gets in the past, such as ‘Busung-Sadar’ and free voluntary services from his subjects are also no longer given to him.

A Hmar traditional Village Council combined in itself, both Judicial and Criminal. Before it hears any dispute, the complainant was under obligation to offer Zu (Rice Beer) to the Councilors and, if he won the case, the other party not only reimbursed his expenditure but also fined Pigs or other livestock as the case maybe. The most serious offence committed by a person if found guilty by this Council will be fined with a term called ‘Siel le Salam’. The Chief was armed with extra-Judicial powers, which nobody questions. For instance, if a criminal or adulterer managed to touch the ‘Lal Sutpui’ (Middle post of the Chief’s house), the avenger would be considered guilty or enemy of the Chief if he continued to make attempts at vengeance.

C. The Priest: Another very important official next to the Chief and his Council of Ministers is the Thiempu(Priest). All such transferring of cases shows that the Hmar traditional(pre-Christian) society, their politics, religion and judiciary were independent. Administering an oath or subjecting the party concerned to ordeal to test innocence or guiltiness normally settled such cases that are referred to the Priest by the Village Council.

One of this methods performed by the priest is called ‘Thingkung deng’. Under this system, a pot of rise beer is kept and filled with water up to the brim. The Priest then chanted, “God of haven, god of the universe reveled his sin and may his picture appear on the water of the rice-beer. Give him fear and let him lives only for one lunar month”. After this, the real culprit used to discloses their hidden crimes fearing that the priest will be really calling their spirits. It is also said that the face of the culprit sometimes appears on the rice – beer pot.

The final method of bringing justice employed by the priest to find out the offending person is caught, Tui Lilut (water immersion).For this trial or final traditional judgment, the two persons who have the dispute are taken to a nearby river after performing a certain rite at the Chief’s house before they moved out along with the Chief and his Ministers. On the bank of the river, the priest sprinkle the blood of a fowl on the top of their head and if the blood flow down the nose line of either of them, the onlookers just believed that he is the innocent of the two. The Priest than chants, “Ye God of above and God of under, Who ever tell truth among these two; Let him immerse in the water and who ever tell lies, Let him float like an empty can”.

As the priest chants these lines, the innocent person was embolden and strengthen and so dived deep into the water and come out with a handful of sand from the floor. On the other hand, the guilty person, with already fear and guilty feeling in his mind can hardly survive in the water for long no matter how good a diver he is. The responsibility of the priest is automatically transferred to the church Pastors and church elders after the Hmars as a whole embraced Christianity in the beginning of the twentieth century.

D. The Youth Commander:
Other important official of village government is the Val Upa (youth commander). The Youth Commanders operated through the organization of Buonzawl (Bachelor’ Dormitory) by imparting strict discipline and vigorous training in the art of tribal warfare, defence, etc to youngsters (except women). In times of peace, the youth commanders mobilized the youths and rendered free but compulsory service to the society. Their influence was so great that even the Chief and his Councilors could at times be subject to the will of the youth.

The Hmar traditional institution of Val Upa is on the wane with the closing down of Zawlbuk in the then Lushai Hills in the year 1938 and, although the Val Upas- are still there in the village to lead and commands the youths in certain social activities, their work and importance to switch on the Hmar Youth Association, an umbrella organization of the youth of the community which had its branches in almost every Hmar villages since 1985.

F. The Black Smith & the Village Crier:
The main function of the Thirsu (blacksmith) in a Hmar village was to make weapons and agricultural implements and, he received a certain specified quantity of paddy annually from the farmers who utilizes his services. The Tlangsam (Village Crier) proclaimed the orders of the Chief and the Councilors; and he was exempted from force- labour or any other community labour. With the advancement of modern systems of governance and equipments in the present days, the function of the village Blacksmith and, Messenger have lessened considerably. With their benefits of exemption from compulsory social services no more, and the donation of paddy for them no longer enforced, Black smithy is taken up by who ever have the talent and a Village Crier is now employed by the village with a certain honorarium.

Rule of inheritance:
General rule of inheritance is ultinogeniture i.e. the youngest son inherits all property. The cider sons can expect at least a portion of the property. In the olden days, in wealthy families when a son marries he receives a certain number of houses and becomes an independent chief. At the same time a share of his father’s guns, necklaces, and other valuables are made over to him. The youngest son remains with his father till his death and then succeeds to the village. Much the same custom prevails among the common people even today, though the material form of the inheritance has changed.

Succession of family office is patri-potestal i.e. the eldest son becomes the head of the family after the death of the father.

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  1. Kinship Terminlogy a hin Tra le Rang a um naw tlats!!!


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