This is one of the series of my account of my trail along the Monoliths and Landmarks of Mizoram. While spending few days at the Tribal Research Institute in Aizawl, I stumbled upon two volumes of the book called Monoliths and Landmarks of Mizoram, and I lost no time in trying to see all of the sites mentioned while I was visiting my parents last autumn.
Here is an account of my first day in Champhai District:
Mura Puk is located in Zote village, about 20 kilometers from Champhai town. It consists of six caves, and though the origin or use of the caves are not known, legend has it that it was a hide out for villagers in olden days as they were preyed upon by a gigantic eagle called Mura for food. Mura was known to be cruel and his tactic for hunting was unique. He would perch on the roof of the huts, and then he would push his tail through the rear door that would force the people to try and escape through the front door. He would then catch the victim or victims with his beak and feed on it. He would repeat this almost every day. Therefore, the villagers dug these caves to hide from him.
It is not very easy to find the caves if you are not familiar with the area, but bless the Mizo souls and the ethic ‘Tlawmngaihna’, the Zote villagers quickly organized themselves and found a guide to take me there.
The caves are rather small, but each of the caves could easily hold 10 persons or so when crammed together. Given the assumption that some villages had 50- 80 households in the past, it could have easily served the purpose. However, as I did not spend too much time there, I need to explore more to even assume that it was used for this purpose. I will be back soon to spend sometime in the village.
A few metres away, we came upon Sikpui Lung, which seems to be a stone commemorating one of the festivals by the Hmar clans who settled in the early days of migration in this area. Zote is still predominantly a village where the clan Hmar settles until today. On the stone, there is an inscription, HE LUNG HI HMANLAI HMAR HO SIKPUI A NI TIN KEINI KUM 28.12.1918 A HIAN KAN AWM TA ZAHLUA SAILO, which means that this is the stone erected by the Hmars in the past, and we have now occupied this place from 28.2.1918, Zahlua Sailo (Monoliths and Landmarks of Mizoram, TRI, page 26-27)
Prior to being defeated by the Lusei clans, the Hmars observed a festival called Sikpui when a village enjoyed good harvest for three continuous years, and the festivals used to be commemorated with erection of stones like the one in this photo.(well the stone now is no longer standing as it is on the verge of breaking..)
This area needs to be researched upon and some day, I hope that I will be working with people to solve the mystery of our past. It is not easy to elaborate the information about these places, and my account is based on my travel journal in the area and the book "Monoliths and Landmarks of Mizoram" by N. Chatterji, Tribal Research Institute published in 1979.
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