Zou people

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Zou Tribe is one of the Schedule Tribes of Manipur. The Zou tribal populace is mainly concentrated in two districts of the state, namely, Churachandpur and Chandel. Zou language has been incorporated in the study curriculum of several high schools and also some of the higher secondary schools in the state of Manipur. Zou tribes are a less known indigenous community residing along the Indo-Burma border. Zou tribe is officially recognised as Indian Scheduled Tribe in the state of Manipur. Zou tribal population in the country is estimated to be nearly 20,000 to 25,000, although there are no official records. Zou tribal community is mostly concentrated in and around Churachandpur district and Chandel district of this state of North-East India. According to 2001 census report, the Zou population has been ranked as the 10th largest amongst the Scheduled Tribe population in Manipur. Zou language is one of the set Major Indian Languages taught in the high schools and higher secondary schools of the state.

In India, the Zou are officially recognized as one of the thirty-three indigenous peoples within the state of Manipur, and are one of the scheduled tribes. According to the 2001 Census, the Zou population in Manipur is around 20,000, less than 3% of the population. The community is concentrated in Churachandpur and Chandel districts of Manipur in North-East India.

History of Zou Tribe[change | change source]

The history of Zou tribe is not very clear. The Zou tribes have Indo-Chinese origin and the in the local dialect of the Zou people, the name of the tribal group suggests 'human being'. There is a saying among the tribal community that mankind is born from trees, leaves and soil. It is believed that the early history of Zou community is lost in legends and myths. The linguistic and racial evidences imply that they are of Indo-Chinese origin. Linguists said that the Zomi language belongs to Tibeto-Burman language family. In the South-East Asian region, there had been some dynasties, places and people, which bear the mark, Zou with some variations in spelling. Further, some scholars also suggest that around 200 BC because of regular Chinese attacks, the Zomis probably have moved to the north east of Tibet.

Language[change | change source]

The Zou tribal community has a script of its own, which is known as "Zolai". All the write ups of the Zou tribes are being done using the script. Today, this Zolai script has gained popularity amongst Zou youths who have started to learn the script with lots of enthusiasm and excitement. However, Roman script is the official script that has been used by the Zou population. Even the holy book Bible has been translated in to Zou language making use of Roman script. In Manipur, the literacy rate of the Zou tribes is low and it is around 61.6 percent according to 2001 Census report. It is to be noted that the Zou dialectal group is just a branch of the huge traditional group, namely, Chin-Kuki-Lushai ethnic group.

Notes on Zou Language[change | change source]

Original Mother Tongue of Zote (Zomi)

Round about 1450 A.D, Pu Hanghil (the father of Chie Manlun) and Pu Gen Kun of Taithul family founded Hai Daw village from Suih Mual village. Pu Gen Kun was appointed to be the Headman of Hai Dawi village. Both of them fought together against Bum Zang village which was about two miles from Hai Dawi. There they defeated the villagers of Bum Zang village. Later, Pu Hang Hil was appointed as Headman of Bum Zang village. Later, Pu Hang Hil shifted to Khua Dai village which is about three miles from Bum Zang village. There his sons Man Lun, Ma Tuang, Mang Son, Hang Vung and Mat Mang were born. As they grew in about 1500 A.D Manlun started his ruling as a chief Khuangnung in village. Mantuang in 1550 A.D at Phaitu village, Mangson at Gamngai and Hangvung at Khuadai village(?). So, we can simply point out that the first Zote Khua was Hai Dawi village. Up to this day Hai Dawi people still exist a people and they speak Hai Dawi dialect. To the original tongue of Zote might be Hai Dawi dialect.

As the Israelites retained the Hebrew language so also if we are going to retain our real mother tongue, we must speak Hai Dawi dialect, for it was the first and lingua franca of Zote descendants. Similarly if any one among Zote descendants would like to print any book or Bible, he would use the Hai Dawi dialect words, not because of its fitness, but only for its originality. I believe we all agree to give first priority to Hai Dawi dialect as our Zote-original mother tongue.

The Hai Dawi dialect

Maw na sung ma naw in, amaw sa pi ma in leimi in i piang a, a khawh ma ma - gam lua a i lua suhsuh ih mawnate ma ei bawl in eima pumpi ei man muda maithei, Ih mawnate -eeng taang gol lua a hi man in khat veivei eima mawnate eimon maisah zolo maithei va-ia kim lai, tuate lip khap sih saang a pamai eisa, ei khua tua ngeet-nguut ngeng ngong man a ih dial dual liang luang mawna nei van nuai ei mai sah thop valong, abieh huai tapo ma Jehova ki chi Pasian khat a na om ngang tangh hi.

Translation: As we are born in sin, we cannot even love ourselves and there is no knowledge about what is forgiveness, because of the enormous sins inherited in us. Eventhough we are in this situation, inspite of our enormous sins the one who has mercy, sympathises us and forgives us our sins is the God called Jehovah. Tua Jehovah Pasian in atapa neisun Zeisu tawh ei maw nei leimite ei tat ngam giap na, itna sang a a uang gol zaw lim itna dang leitung ah tu dong kimu nai va-ia lo hi.

Transaltion: Jehovah God's love in giving his only begotten son for the remission of our sins and its horrible consequence is the greatest love in the world. There is greater love in the world up to this day.

Tui khang bang a leitung a tomkal khat ih mit phet va huausung teng beeh, upna a muan tawh Jehovah Pasian um kha popo lei-ih zaw? Aman eite chidamna, khansauna, pilna, hauna, lungnopna, ji hoi, pasal hoi, tanu tapa meel hoi neitheina thuphate tawh ei ang vaan tuah valon ding baan ah, ih si zaw chiang na ngawn a ih hla in van tung ah hindenna nga ding-chi te a kammal tawh ei khap saa ma tah khu.

Translation: Within our span of vaporous life, if we believe in Jehovah God rightly, there are numerous promises abounded for health, prosperity, wisdom, longevity, good husband, good wife, and even our offspring would see beauty and excellence and above all eternal bliss after life will be received.

Culture[change | change source]

These Zou tribes, following the trend of the other tribes, too follow Christianity as their main religion. This Zou community has a plethora of rituals and customs, both religious as well as social, undergo sea change to keep up with the trend of present day modern trends. The Zou people follow ceremonies associated with nature. The Zou tribal society still loyally maintains their old patriarchal structure.

Hunting and agriculture are the major occupation of the Zou tribal people. Modern education system empowered the Zou women to enter today's job market.

Customs[change | change source]

The traditional customs, practices and other related issues of this small tribe has recently been explored systematically. Unfortunately, this tribe has escaped the attention of social scientists in general and sociologists in particular. The Zous like other tribal communities in the northeast India have maintained their age-old customary practices.

Types of marriage[change | change source]

The Zou tribe generally follows what is called as "Patrilineal cross-cousin's marriage" which is their first choice known as Neita. It is generally observed that the traditional marriage system of the Zou tribes is regulated either by (i) Tong Mou (Arranged marriage), (ii) Neita (Cross cousin Marriage), and (ii) Elopement Marriage. THe above three types of marriage of course consist of arrange as well as love marriage. There are minute details to be explored with related to Zou customary marriage practices, I am not going to elaborate on all these minute details at the moment. This article aims at the contemporary practices without going in deep studies.

Zou folklore[change | change source]

Khupcing And Ngambawm[change | change source]

Once there were two woman who were great friends and they loved each other very much. One day they made an agreement that if one gives birth to a male baby and other give birth to a female baby they would marry them to each other. Later in the use two pregnant women gave birth to a female and the other woman gave birth to a male baby.The male baby was named Ngambawm and the female baby was named Khupching. Khupching belongs to a royal family whereas Ngambawm belong to a poor family. So their social disparities created a social barrier. Khupching’s parents retracted from their agreement to marry these two people.So they tried to seeparate them rightr from their babyhood. They used different cradles,but it was so amazing that the two babies join themselves in one cradle. Even in the field they thought that they had separated while ploughing the field they found the two babies join together in the evening in one cradle.As they grew up Khupching and Ngambawm loved each other very much. One day Ngambawm asked Khupching to marry him. But Khupching replied in songs:

(a) Ka tun va dongin,ka zuo va dong in khuokhâl tui bang hing la ve aw.

[ask my mother ask my father fetch me like the dry season(autumn) waters.] Ngambawm asked her parents.They refused/rejected him flatly.

Ngambawm sang this song: (a) Na tun lah dong ing na zuo lah dong ing khuokhâl tui bang lâh nâilou e. I had asked your mother and father, they flatly refused to marry you to me, but I can not fetch you like dry season (autumn) waters. On hearing her parents refused him, her love for Ngambawm increased day by day.

One day Ngambawm plucked a single hair of Khupching and he placed it under a stone which was near a waterfall of a stream.Khupching fell ill since then.Her mother decalred that if someone could cure her he will be her husand. When he heard this news ngambawm took back the hair from under the stone and put it back into Khupching’s head. Ngambawm cured her but her parents still refused him marriage to her. Ngambawm again took back and he put it under the stone nearby stream once again. She became ill bagain. Her parents again promised the same as before to one who could cure her. He took the hair and put it back into her head and she was cured. In this way he cured her many times.But her parents were adamanat not to mary her off to him. Ngambawm again hid her hair under a stone unfortunately this time her hair was lost in the running stream. So Khupching fell ill and died. When the body was about to be buried her body swelled like a big balloon and the people could not extricate out of the house. The people were flabber-gasted and amazed about this phenomenon. No one could solve the problem. So they requested Ngambawm to come and help them out. Ngambawm spoke to the corpse saying “Darling we are separated but this is the will of God, make your self small again and get out of the the door”. After that the corpse became small and was able to get out the door easily. Once again the corpse refused to get out of the entrance of the gate of the house by swelling big. again. Ngambawm said “Darling, make yourself small again one more and get out of the entrance gate of the house.” After that the corpse was easily taken out of the entrance gate.After Khupching was buried Ngambawm returned to his house filled with tears.

(a) Atui in hal e, têu a tui in hal ,hal jou nailou zawlching ngâi ing e. (b) Atui suh inlu ong damdiel in luong e, Ching aw vâi bang na thâm na hie? [The waterfall was between us but it could not separate us I love Chingkhup more and more. The water flows gently but you died in this flowing water.]

One day Ngambawm planted a cockscomb flower on the tomb of Khupching. He saw a wild cat coming to pluck the flowers and he caught it by chance.When he asked the wild cat as to why it plucked the flowers every night it told him that it was sent by Khupching. He told the wild cat to pluck out the chicken’s feathers on its way to the Khupching’s village till he arrives there. Following the trail of plumes he finally arrived at the village where Khupching lives. On seeing her his joy knew no bounds. He and Khupching lived together in the house. One day the villagers went for fishing expedition She sent him also to join the villagers and she gave him the bamboo basket for collecting fishes.

One day Khupching said to Ngambawm, “ Please go back to your village,as soon as you reach your home kill one pig and eat its meat. After that hang a spear above your bed, and let free all the chicken from their roosts. Then, lie down on your bed facing the roof of your house whre you hanged the spear”. As advised by her he returned to his village soon and he did whatever things to be done as told by Khupching.As he lay on his bed the spear accidentally fell on his chest and he was killed instantly. After his death his spirit went the village of Khupching. He reached her house and they both met each other happily ever after.

References[change | change source]