April 12, 2021

Chin New Year Celebration in USA: Interview with Pu Fung Dun

09 September 2011 – [CG Note: The Chin Community USA organised a celebration of Chin New Year Festival from 2-4 September 2011, marking the harvest season in Chin tradition and culture.

In this interview, President of Chin Community USA, Pu Fung Dun, talked to Chinland Guardian about the celebration, its historical facts, dates and importance.]

Chinland Guardian: Please tell us the overall updates about the Chin New Year celebration organized by Chin Community USA.

Fung Dun: Let me start with the Chin Community, USA, INC. The founding of Chin Community, USA was discussed during the Chin Literature Seminar sponsored by Lailun Foundation on July 5-6, 2002 at Atlanta, GA and was officially founded on November 29, 2002 at Battle Creek, MI during the first celebration of Chin New Year Festival on the thanksgiving weekend.

Interestingly and coincidentally, the Chin Community of America (Burma) Inc. was also founded on July 27, 2002 at Battle Creek, MI. Chin Community of America (Burma) Inc. and Chin Community, USA Inc. are different groups in USA.

Since then, the celebration of Chin New Year Festival was organized by the Chin Community, USA every year in different places such as Battle Creek, MI; Frederick, MD; Atlanta, GA; and Indianapolis, IN. The first three years were celebrated during thanksgiving week but since 2006, the Chin New Year Festival is celebrated during the Labour Day weekends.

Since 2002, we are able to celebrate Chin New Year festival every year. So, this year’s celebration is the tenth anniversary, which is the tin jubilee of it in US. Around 600 people participated in this festival. The guests from all over the US are about 400, around 200 people from the host state.

In this festival, we have two worship services: one on Friday night and another on Sunday. During this worship services, we have Bible reading and choir competitions. Day time is for sports such as soccer, volley ball, tug of war and etc. Evening time is mainly for cultural shows, singing and cultural dance competitions, fashion show in traditional dresses and beauty pageant contest along with speeches from respected guests.

During this festival, we also presented Person of the Year Award and Chin Community President’s Award to outstanding persons.

Chinland Guardian: Why is it important to celebrate the festival?

Fung Dun: It is very important to celebrate this festival because:

  1. This is a time for unity and fellowship among our peoples. We live in different US States and we don’t know who we are. This is a time we can meet together, talk together, plan together, and work together for our future well-being and for the Chins.
  2. This is a time to preserve and promote our culture.
  3. This is a time to practice and promote our literature and education.
  4. This is a time to remember and celebrate what our ancestors had passed their good traditions on to our generation.

Chinland Guardian: Could you share with us the historical background about the Chin New Year?

Fung Dun: The Chins are the founders of their territories and have their own traditions. The so-called Chin New Year has different names among the Chins. Even in the Falam Township, we have different names such as Fang-er, Dawngpui, Tho, and so on. Likewise, other tribes call khuado, kumci, sawmsi, kuut, tho and etc. But the root meaning of this festival is celebrating the harvest as a new year.

Here we can see the meaning of Fang-er defined as:

  1. Counting as a year. (kum caangrelnak): After the harvest of crops, especially millet and corn, the festival is celebrated between August and October depending on the harvest time. According to Chin calendar, Fanger month is August. They counted as a full year when they celebrate the Fanger festival. Hence, the meaning of Fanger can be translated as “new year.”
  2. Symbol of thanksgiving.
  3. A prayer of blessings for the coming year.
  4. The outcast of the evil spirit.
  5. Feasting together with the newly harvested crops and
  6. Having fellowship together with the poor and the rich.

For the above reasons and to show unity among the Chins, we celebrate the festival called and adopted as the name ‘Chin New Year Festival’, instead of saying Fanger, Dawngpui, Tho and so on.

Chinland Guardian: So, is there any particular reason why Chin communities across the world celebrate on different dates?

Fung Dun: Khuado (puai) is celebrated in October in Chin State but there is no particular date to celebrate the Chin New Year across the world traditionally. The date and time differs depending on the harvest time and places. But mostly, it was celebrated during the full moon day of Fanger month or the following months. In the USA, it is best suit to celebrate during the Labor Day holiday because it is the closest date to our traditional celebration day.

Chinland Guardian: Your message to the Chin people worldwide.

Fung Dun: The Chin people are all over the universe nowadays. Though the Chins are diverse, “WE ALL ARE ONE.” As we all know, we have one common thing: Chin National Day celebrated on February 20. The Chin people worldwide celebrated and observed this auspicious day on different dates. Here is another important day that all Chin peoples worldwide can come together: The Chin New Year Festival. Let us preserve and renew our culture wherever we are. Let us look forward to the date where every Chin can come together and celebrate our Chin New Year Festival.

Chinland Guardian: Thank you so much for your time and answers.

Fung Dun: My pleasure.

Interview by Van Biak Thang
[email protected]

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