The 3rd World Zomi Convention : Meaning and Message

Soibamcha Indrakumar *

Last Day of 3rd World Zomi Convention at YPA Head Quarter Hall Hiangtam, Lamka :: 27 October 2013
Last Day of 3rd World Zomi Convention at YPA Head Quarter Hall Hiangtam, Lamka on 27 Oct 2013 :: Pix - Deepak Oinam

For so long our minds have rested
Blinded and unaware
We have been deceived by our own
Yet, from our slumber we shall arise
One by one, we awaken
That sleeping beast none could tame
Shall once again rule Zoland

This epithet ascribed in the small bulletin of the Zomi Council released on the occasion of the 3rd World Zomi Convention (October 25-27, 2013), partly inspiring and partly inciting, speaks volumes of this event. Zomis settled and scattered in around 35 countries around the world.

MI, pronouncing as 'Mee' of the Meetei lamguage, means MAN, same as Manipuri language. ZOMI, literally means ZO-Men or ZO-people who are reportedly numbered around 6.5 millions. ZO-MI or MI-ZO bears the same meaning. 'Zo' means mountain, 'Zomi'means 'mountain men' or 'cheeng-mee' in Manipuri.

It is a conglomeration of about 53 sub-tribes, out of the total 135 races identified, including the Kukis. For centuries, the concept of Zo-nationalism was beyond their imagination. They had great loyalty for their families and clans.

The idea of nationalism emerged only after majority of the Zo people's conversion into Christianity, when they realized the importance of education. Now Zomis have a great number of educated persons, academicians and professionals. However, the number of Religious Education graduates surpasses the number of secular ones.

Now, Religion or Christianity in the broader sense is the binding force of their re-unification move. Unity beyond the lines of family and clans and re-unification of the tribes and sub-tribes – is the cliché made by the series of movements since 1947 culminating in the 1st World Zomi Convention at Champai, Mizoram on May 21, 1988.

The Second Chapter of the World Zomi Convention, held at Vanapa Hall, Aizawl from June 17-18, 1991 was also for understanding and unity. A memorandum was also submitted to the United Nations by the Zo-Unification Organization on May 20, 1995 by Thangmawia, Chairman and H Thanglawra, Secretary General.

The movement continues and the 3rd World Zomi Convention was held at Lamka (Churachandpur), Manipur from October 25 to 25, 2013. Even though the organizers have coined the theme of the convention as 'Integration through Culture', the political tone of the verse, preface of this article cannot be overcast. Of course, without a political will organizing a World Convention of this magnitude would not have been possible.

The presence of 225 participants from Myanmar and a host of other so called Zomis settled in the United States, the United Kingdom and other European countries marked the three-day convention more colourful and successful.

The most important part, perhaps the core objective of the convention, was the marathon seminar/workshop on 'Issues, Challenges and Opportunities' on October 26, 2013 at YPA HQ Hall, Churachandpur. It is unfortunate that I could not attend any of the sessions of the seminar. I missed the Blessed Moments of the Blessed People.

Yes, it was indeed a wonderful experience to be there, amidst the exultant crowd of ten thousand plus in the inaugural ceremony of the three-day convention. The atmosphere at Churachandpur public ground on that cloudy October morning was electric. The mood of the entire crowd was ecstatic and the spirit high.

After the show stealing performance of Manipuri Thang-Ta and Lai Haraoba dance, the synchronous dancing of the fifteen different troupes in their traditional attires on the same beats of drums was really a rare-sight. That enchanting visual was true to the organizers much cherished objective of unification through culture.

To be a blessed nation and seeking to bless others too is an anecdote of the three-day long Zomi Convention. 'Be a blessed nation' was the theme of the worship programme on October 26 at selected churches.

It has put me on a dilemma. What is the notion of a Blessed Nation? The mankind is the children of GOD, the creator of the universe. Every nation, every community, every tribe, every individual is a blessed one in the trust sense of the term. If God has bestowed upon the Zomis unfathomable beatitudes, so are the Nagas, the Meeteis, the Pangals and so on.

The concept of Religion has made God an ugly entity. Blessed are the Nations having harmonious co-existence of different faiths, people of different origin. When religion is mixed with politics, the result is catastrophic.

Osho Rajneesh rightly said … 'Religion is a dead rock... a flowing river continuously changes its course but ultimately reaches the ocean... a rock may be very ancient, far more experienced, but a rock is a rock and it is dead… a religion should not be a dead organization..'

Religion has made GOD the king of the dark chambers dividing the human race on flimsy grounds of blind faith and giving sermons to the innocents inside the dark chambers. A Blessed Nation is one that is free of religion but full of religious men. A religious man needs no holy scriptures. The holy scriptures have nothing to do with God which is non-existent without life. God exists where life exists.

We are born out of the womb of the same mother 'Earth'. The Zomi Convention gives the message of togetherness. Let us live together beyond the narrow walls of familism and classism. Only then shall we become a 'Blessed Nation', truly.

* Soibamcha Indrakumar wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao
This article was posted on November 19, 2013.

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