People in Christian-majority Mizoram are preparing for the 150th year of Christmas celebration in the tiny northeastern state.The festival was first celebrated in Mizoram near the Tuivai river by invading British troops in 1871, during which they were attacked by Mizo warriors.
Although Christmas will be celebrated in churches after a year's gap, the festivities are expected to be low-key with only worship services as congregational singing of carols and community feasts, integral to the celebration, have been prohibited due to COVID restrictions. Last year, Mizos celebrated Christmas and New Year indoors due to the raging COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the pandemic and restrictions because of it, the tiny state is already soaked in the yuletide spirit. As congregational singing of Christmas carols in churches and street corners has been prohibited due to the pandemic, festival songs were heard in almost every household, adorned by Christmas trees and wreaths. Several NGOs, political parties and churches are collecting charity to give gifts to people in orphanages, prisons, rehabilitation centres and hospitals.
Churches and other places of worship in COVID-free towns and villages outside Aizawl were reopened on August 22, and those in even coronavirus-affected areas including the state capital were reopened on October 2. Deputy commissioners of districts other than Aizawl have been given discretionary powers to formulate separate guidelines for their respective districts depending on the local COVID situation.
The state government has also banned the bursting of firecrackers, sky lanterns and other pyrotechnic materials, including toy guns with pellets, during the festive season. Some deputy commissioners told PTI that the manner of celebration of the festival in smaller towns and villages has been kept at the prerogative of the local churches and COVID task forces depending on the situation in their areas.
In Mizoram, which celebrated the centenary of the arrival of Christianity back in 1994, Christmas is a blend of religious and traditional fervour. Proselytized Mizos follow their own way of celebrating Christmas in tune with their traditions. Christmas celebration is a three-day affair in the state, starting from December 24, known as 'urlawk zan' or pre-night celebration to December 26, when community feasts are held.
December 25 is usually sanctified for worship during which church services, sermons and 'zaikhawm' (congregational singing) are held. Earlier on Wednesday, Governor Hari Babu Kambhampati and Chief Minister Zoramthanga conveyed Christmas and New Year greetings to the people.
-With PTI Inputs