Chin Harvest Festival Celebrated Worldwide
27 October 2010: Chin people across the globe held a series of traditional festivals marking the end of the harvest season and celebrating what is now mostly known and accepted as Chin New Year that is believed to fall in October.
In Hakha, a two-day public celebration last week took place at Carson Hall, with more than 2,000 people in attendance, where an official opening ceremony was followed by a variety of programmes including traditional dances, fashion shows, singing songs and beauty contests.
Francis Cung Bik of Chin Community in Chiang Mai, Thailand said: “It [the festival] is widely celebrated among Chin communities around the world to protect and preserve our culture and traditions, and to remind ourselves of our homeland. Though there is no fixed date for this festival, it is celebrated every October of the year. According to the history, it is also known as ‘Harvest Festival’ from which the Chin people counted the beginning of each year.”
Historically, the festival was a special celebration in Chin culture organised in a village when the farmers and their families came home at the end of the harvest season after spending months harvesting on their fields.
The festival has been called with various names in different Chin dialects such as Khuado in Tedim and Tonzang, Fanger in Falam, K’Thai Ei in Mindat and Kanpalet, On Hu Saung Thar Ei Pwe in Asho, Taai Cha Nai in Paletwa, Cang Zom in Matupi, Khai Mdeh in Dai, Kut or Chavang Kut or Pawl Kut in Thado, Kuki and Mizo and Tho in Hakha.
Other sources describe the festival as a celebration of jubilation and rest, and it is sometimes called Lai Kumthar, meaning New Year and also celebrated as Thlaithar, meaning thanksgiving or thereabouts.
Various reasons have been given as to why the festival was celebrated in the olden times.
In his article ‘Chin Kumthar Puai’, one Falam author whose name cannot be revealed said of at least six reasons why our forefathers celebrated ‘Fanger’ festival. The festival, he continued, bears the concepts of the beginning of the year, of thanksgiving at the end of the harvest season to their guardian spirits of the village and the creator of the universe who was believed to have blessed the villagers in their cultivations, of asking for blessings in the coming year to have successfull cultivation, of sanctifying the village which was thought to have been occupied by evil spirits while the Chin farmers were away spending months on their fields, of sharing a community feast in equality, and of having a social friendship and fellowship especially among the youths.
It was also an occasion when a large meal was prepared for their loved ones, who passed away, to share with as a traditional sign of remembrance. The Chin New Year as mostly celebrated nowadays, is celebrated in countries across the world.
The harvest festival is also observed and celebrated by the tribal peoples living in Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Assam, Tripura and Chittagong hill tracts of Bangladesh.
Van Biak Thang