In Mizoram, the word “kut” means “festival”. Of all the kuts celebrated in Mizoram, the Chapchar Kut, is the most vibrant, This annual festival celebrates the arrival of spring and is one of the oldest and most grandly celebrated traditions of Mizoram. This tradition of a week-long celebration of Chapchar Kut began in 1450 AD in a village called Suaipui.
With the advent of spring towards the end of February, lands are cleared to make way for Jhum or seasonal farming. This marks the start of Chapchar Kut, and the traditional festivities that come along with it. Jungles are cleared and bamboo trees are cut down, so that the sowing season can begin. The cleared out bamboo is dried in the sun, and used to make different useful items.
During this festival, tribes from all over Mizoram come together to make merry. People from different walks of life come together to participate in this tradition dressed in colourful costumes, bright and specially- made head gear, and elaborate jewelry. They sing traditional songs, play drums, gongs and cymbals while dancing to celebrate the joy of life. A dozen different dances are performed during Chapchar Kut celebrations. The ‘Cheraw’ or the bamboo dance is the star attraction- indeed a sight to behold.
Cheraw is an extremely skill-oriented dance that requires precision, timing and co-ordination. It is performed by the women-folk who dance between crossed bamboo sticks that are rhythmically moved by men holding them at either end, close to the ground. ecognized as one of the oldest dances of Mizoram, Cheraw has become an integral part of almost every festival of Mizoram. More often than not the various movements made by the Cheraw dancers are inspired by the nature. While some expressions of Cheraw resemble the swaying of trees some others indicate the flying of birds. There is no denying the fact that Cheraw is surely a most enchanting form of Mizoram culture.
The festivities end with the Then Thumna, where the local singers present the traditional numbers, joined in by the enthusiastic crowd. Chapchar Kut is one of India’s most colourful festivals that portrays our vibrant tradition and culture and lives up to its tag-line, ‘The Mizo festival of Joy’