Mara people

The Mara people are the native inhabitants of Mizoram in India, native to northeastern India, primarily in the Mara Autonomous District Council of the state of Mizoram, where they form the majority of the population. The Maras are related to Kuki and Mizos in India and Kachin, Karen, Shan and Chins in Myanmar. Significant numbers of Maras are also found living south-western and south-central part of Chin State (Burma), in Myanmar - the contiguous area of Mara area in India mostly separated by Kolodyne / Chhimtuipui / Beino river, which forms an international boundary. They were earlier known as the Lakher by outsiders as Tlaikao/Mizo called them by that name and as Zochhia by the Lai and Shendu by the Khumi people, Dai people, Shô people, Matu people, and Rakhaing, and the new name Mara was inserted in List of Scheduled Tribes in Mizoram state in 1978 replacing the old name. The Maras were in early period known to the outside world under different tribal names such as Mara, Lakher, Shendu, Magha, Miram, Baungshel or Shendoo, Maring, Zyu or Zao/Zho, Khuangsai, etc. They constitute a distinct tribal group lying in Siaha / Saiha district of Mizoram, while also occupying northern part of Paletwa township and Matupi township, Western and Southern part of Thlantlang township, Southern part of Haka township. They called themselves "Maras".[1] They are definitely a nation of tribes rather than just a tribe. It is an umbrella term covering the Tlosai, Hlaipao, Hawthai, Zophei, Zotung, Lautu and Senthang tribes.

Mara
(LAKHER, SHENDU, SHENDOO)
Total population
345,000 (approximately)
Regions with significant populations
Mizoram, India70,000 (approximately)
Chin State, Burma215,000 (approximately)
other Countries65,000 (approximately)
Languages
Mara Reih, English, others
Religion
Christian (predominantly Evangelical)
Related ethnic groups
Mizo people, Zomi people, Meitei people Naga people, Kachin people, Rakhine people, Karen people, Kuki people, Karbi people, Shan people and Chin people

Demography

Tribes

Mara has 11 dialects,which can now be called language in their own rights as they are unintelligible. among the different tribes, they are:

  1. Tlosaih Tlosaih is the Official Language of Mara. And it is widely use in Maraland. Divided into Siaha, Paitha and Saikao groups.Earlier they were mostly called as Khuangsai from where most of the clans came.
  2. Satyu/SâTe groups lived on the southeast of the sabyu groups, south of the Lautus, east of the Lialais and northwest of the Matupis. They speak Satyu/SâTe language.
  3. HawThai Lyvaw is the name of its language and the oldest language of the Maras where all other Mara languages branches out of it. They are divided into tribes named Locheis comprising six villages of about 300-500 houses in Myanmar (Burma) and Lyvaws(Nohros and Notlias) consist about 20 villages of 200 to over1000 houses in each villages in India.
  4. VahapiAlso called Zyhnos, Lopus and Lakis Their language is a little similar with Heima and Lialai languages and are mostly clubbed together under the name Hlaipao tribes.
  5. Chapi in India (in Burma people who speaks Sizo call themselves ngiaphia who are the northern group and Sabyu the southern group)They are a powerful and feared tribe of the Central and Southern Chin hills and Malawi division and ruled by the Cheizah clan(Descendants of Mahlei), who are also the ruling clans of Heimas.
  6. HeimaThey are the most powerful tribes in the Moduk ngaw of the Myanmar-Bangladesh border
  7. Lialai(Lailen).Their most powerful clan include the Chairi and Tlahneihs. Their chief were mostly of the Zawtha clans). They are also a very powerful tribe as the Heima and Sizos over the Southern Chin hills and Northern Arakan State.
  8. Zyphe also called Zophei. They have two villages in India, which are Siata and Iana and mixed with Hawthai tribes. Their main language is Vyutu/Vuangtu and the chief of this tribe is Zawthang clan.
  9. Zotung They are also known as Zytôh and Azyu.They mostly speak the Shal Thawng and In Mai language.
  10. Lautu They are also called Lytu/Kahno and speak a language named after their tribe.
  11. Senthang Also called Saithah.They speak Senthang languages.Most common clan is said to be Sathing.

Language

The Mara languages are a group of languages related to Tibeto-Burman family. It is spoken by Mara people who live in a contiguous area in Mizoram state, India and Chin state, Myanmar. Mara is also closely related to other Mizo, Zomi, Kuki and Chin languages widely spoken in the area but can also be listed as a separate language outside kuki-chin or kukish language. The India Mara languages mainly includes Tlosai, Hlaipao, Lyvaw, Zyphe and Sizo.

Government

The earliest council was Poi-Lakher Regional council founded by Chhohmo Hlychho (A Tlosai tribal chief of Saikao and the founding father of the Council) along with fellow Mara Chiefs, though him being the main promonent, with the selfless help of Lakher Pioneer Mission Albert Bruce Foxall (main advisor to Chhohmo Hlychho) and L.L.Peters Superintendent of Lushai Hills.Later, this council was trifurcated.After being trifurcated, it was then renamed and upgraded to Mara Autonomous District Council. Mara people in India have an autonomous body i.e. Mara Autonomous District Council, the local governing body for the region, it is centred at Siaha, main town of the Siaha District of Mizoram. The Mizo National Front and the Indian National Congress are the most active political parties on the council. As of 2019 most of the members of the ruling party the Indian National Congress switch to Bharatiya Janata Party mainly due to lust for power which also betrays their own people.

In Burma, Mara people do not have any self-government body. Though their land is purely inhabited by them, they are governed by seven townships – Thlantlang and Haka township for people in the North, Matupi,Lailenpi and Rezua township for people in central part and Paletwa and Samme township for people in the southern part.Lailenpi is the capital town for the East Maras People which is the central place for all Maras People in Burma.

Religion

All ethnic Mara people claim to be 100% Christian, mostly Evangelical. With the arrival of Rev. & Mrs. Reginald Arthur Lorrain in 1907 who had had earlier founded Lakher Pioneer Mission in London in the year 1905, within a decade Mara people have all accepted Christianity. Although the missionaries were of baptist origins, the newly found Church in Maraland was not affiliated with any outside Church or denominations, and was called Independent Church of Maraland. The current Evangelical Church has two branches, one in Maraland, India and the other in Burma; these branches were separated after the Partition of India.

Evangelical Church of Maraland (India), Congregational Church of India (Maraland), and Mara Evangelical Church (Burma) are the three dominant Churches, a direct fruit of the pioneer missionaries who are buried at Saikao (Serkawr) town in Siaha district of Mizoram. Presbyterian, Baptist, Seventh-Day Adventists and Pentecostal also have a significant presence among the Mara peoples.

References

  1. Dr K. Zohra, Ph.D, An introductory notes to Mara District of South Mizoram, India.
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