What is Zawlbuk?

zawlbuk.jpgLike the institution of chieftainship, most of the tribes have a  system of bachelor’s dormitory where the young men learn the customs of the tribes and get indoctrinated into the norms of social behaviour. The Lushais had in every village a bachelor’s dormitory, called zawlbuk. The Zawlbuk would be situated at prime place in the village, generally opposite the chief’s house.  The hall of the zawlbuk would be big enough to accommodate all the young men of the village.  The hearth in the centre of the hall would always have a smouldering fire.  Every evening, after the days work, the young men would gather in the Zawlbuk and would have common pastimes like wrestling, singing songs, telling stories, etc.  Later in the evening, the young men would go round the village in nula rim, to court the young girls.  Late in the night they would return to the Zawlbuk which had raised sleeping platforms. Usually travellers halting at a village for the night would stay at the zawlbuk.  The chief also used the hall of the zawlbuk to hold meetings of the villages as this would be the only common hall and the biggest hall available in the village.

Tlawmngaihna

There was an excellent custom called tlawngaihna by which one was duty bound to help others. Under this custom everyone was required to be courteous and considerate and to help others always and every time, irrespective of one’s inconvenience. Every one would try to surpass others in unselfishness and cooperation.  This was an excellent custom in the daily life of a Lushai. For example : while traveling together, if one of the party would fall sick, all would wait for him to recover and would then resume the journey together.

With the advent of Christianity the institution of Zawlbuk and the custom of tlawmngaihna gradually died. The Christian in a village would not join a Zawlbuk and hence when the majority in a village become Christians, the zawlbuk in the village languished and ultimately become extinct.  Similar was the fate of tlawmngaihna. When the people were turning away from their old beliefs, the customary network of  duties and obligations was also snapped.  New structures and institutions like village churches, schools, medical centres and administrative centres etc, were coming up.  The people started depending, individually and collectively, more on the church and the Government for guidance and help.

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