Delhi Hmar celebrates Sikpui Festival 2004
Lalremlien Neitham *

The Hmars in and around Delhi celebrated the eagerly awaited SIKPUI RUOI 2004 (SIKPUI FESTIVAL) on the 4th of December, 2004 at MTNL Community Hall, RK Puram, New Delhi organized by the Delhi Hmar Welfare Association (DHWA). The festival was graced by 'Super Cop" Hmar Tlawmte Sangliana, Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) as the Sikpui Pa (Sikpui Father).

The festival started with an opening prayer from Pastor Dev Kumar, which was followed by singing a song "Hmar Puonzar" (Hmar Flag) by the Sikpui-ers. The Hall was packed to the full and it has been reported that more than 400 people came to celebrate the auspicious occasion of the Hmars.

In the first session, a quiz competition and extempore speech was held and also various Hmar artistes present songs that chime the hearts of the audience.

In the second session, Pu L. Keivom, IFS (Retd.), a historian, writer and author of many a book gave a speech on the festival of SIKPUI. He talks about the significance of Sikpui festival among the Hmars. He said that, though the originity of the Sikpui festival is not known, the Hmars from time immemorial used to celebrate this festival.

It is noteworthy that there are ample evidences in the form of stone inscription ("HE LUNG HI HMANLAI HMAR HO SIKPUI LUNG A NI TIN KEINI KUM 28.2.1918 A HIAN KAN AWM TA - ZAHULA SAILO", which when translated to English reads "This is the Sikpui stone of the Hmars of the past and we occupied this place from 28.02.1918 - ZAHULA SAILO"), which shows that Sikpui Ruoi festival was celebrated by the Hmars while they were in the present Mizoram state of Champhai and its adjoining areas.

Just before the Hmar of Manipur as a whole embraced Christianity in the early part of the 20th century, Sikpui Ruoi festival was celebrated at Senvon village in Churachandpur as well as Vanchengphai in Tamenglong district of Manipur. In Zopui, near the present Senvon village the big rock on which the leader of the dance party usually sat is standing till today.

Pu L. Keivom also reminds that, this festival is not much associated with religion, but was more of a social gathering. Whenever a Hmar village decided to celebrate this festival, the whole tribe would start preparing themselves months ahead by filling their pots of rice-beer for the big day, which sometime continues on for weeks and month.

Pu Keivom also said that the Sikpui Song is also one of the most controversial topics among Kuki-Mizo-Chin kindred tribes these days.

The Sikpui Song incidentally has a story with those of the Israelites, as mentioned in the book of Exodus of the Holy Bible. This song became one of the main foundations for many of the Chin-Kuki-Mizo tribes who claimed to be one of the 10 lost tribes of Israel – Menasseh, who were exiled by the Assyrians.

Rev. Kh. Thang Dailo then took to the stage to introduce the Sikpui Pa, Pu HT Sangliana. Rev. Dailo spoke on the achievements of Pu HT Sangliana and how he dedicated himself faithfully to his work during his stint as an IPS Officer.

He praises Pu HT Sangliana on being elected as Member of Parliament in the last general election of the Lok Sabha with the faith and blessing of the North Bangalore voters, minus the votes of his own people! He also lauds Pu Sangliana for his immense contribution for the upliftment and development of the Hmar people.

As the Sikpui Pa joined in for the celebration, the gatherers rise to their feet and with rapt attention and pin drop silence welcomed their Sikpui Father. Elder Hrangzakhum, the eldest Hmar in Delhi, did the crowning of "Tawnlairang" to the Sikpui Pa. Pu HT Sangliana, as the Sikpui Pa, then officially opened the SIKPUI RUOI 2004, reciting the Sikpui Song with the people repeating after him. After which, the hall sways to the music and song of Sikpui – "Sikpui inthang kan ur laia" and dancing by holding each other’s hand at the back in an alternate sequence.

Pu Sangliana after greeting the Sikpui-ers gave a short speech recollecting his childhood and student days. He was all praise for the Hmar people on being one of the most educated tribe and for being top bureaucrats and officers in spite of the many hurdles they had to face. He urges the gatherers to be united, honest and be dedicated to their work, which he said is the need of the hour. He challenge the youth to believe in themselves and to tirelessly try for the top.

After the Hmar Students in Delhi performed Hmar cultural dances, well-known and gifted Hmar artistes Pu Z.T. Kunga and Pi Nienglawmkim Sungte, who came all the way from Manipur to Delhi to celebrate the Sikpui Ruoi, presents a memorable musical interlude to the gatherers. Both are All India Radio (AIR) artistes. While Z.T. Kunga have 6 Cassette Albums up his sleeves and recorded more than 100 songs in AIR, Nienglawmkim Sungte too recorded more than 100 songs in AIR and already released an overwhelming 51 Cassette Albums till date in different tribal dialects!

Smoothly and beautifully curved gorgeous Hmar girls, introducing various Hmar traditional attires, also presented a contemporary Hmar traditional fashion show. The dresses were designed by two young Hmar fashion technology students from Delhi - Gladys Khawbung and Esther Khawzawl, who one day aims to make it big in the street of Milan, the fashion capital of the world! The audiences were bowled over both by the design and by the models. So mesmerized were the audiences by the show that their eyes were seen to be almost popping out from their sockets!

The Val Upa(s) then distributed certificates to 23 individuals in recognition of their "tlawmngaina" by selflessly donated blood during 2003 – 2004 to the needy. The Sikpui Pa, Pu HT Sangliana honored 8 individuals with awards for their commitment, initiatives, dedication, talents, and achievements - Nienglawmkim Sungte, ZT Kunga, Buonglienkung Buongpui, Lalremlien Neitham, K. Remsang Pulamte, Joseph Lalrothang, L.B. Sinate, L. Keivom and HT Sangliana was decorated with both an Award and Memento by DHWA Chairman Pu Darsiemlien Ruolngul and Secretary C. Thant Khobung respectively. Certificate of Appreciation was also presented to Pi Lal Remsien & Pu James Lalrawngbawl and Rev. (Dr.) Hae Sung Koh for their immense contributions and works for the development of the Hmar community.

After Rev. Lalneikhum Hmar offered a feast prayer, a grand "Ruoi" (feast) was thrown with Hmar traditional delicacies – Chartang and Hmepok.

In the third session, a special fashion show by the Hmar women in Delhi was presented and males dressed as females (Male Miss Contest) were also held. The hall erupts in laughter and the audiences were enthralled with the presentation.

Celebrated Hmar artistes ZT Kunga and Nienglawmkim then took to the stage again and captivated the Sikpui-ers with their gifted voice and songs and all the Sikpui-ers were seen to be dancing to their popular hits. It was only late at night that the celebration ends amidst high jubilation and dances. Pastor Lalsiesang Joute closed the Delhi Hmar Sikpui Ruoi 2004 with a prayer. No untoward incidents or disturbances were reported during this carnival.

See the festival photograph here.

Lalremlien Neitham writes regularly to
You can email him at [email protected]
This article was webcasted on 9th December 2004.

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