LET’S KEEP IT ALIVE
(Significant Ralte Poets)
The verses from the Bible : Matthew 9:12-13 Jesus heard them and answered “People who are well do not need a doctor but only those who are sick. Go and find out what is meant the scripture that says ‘it is kindness that I want, not animal sacrifices I have not come to call the respectable people, but outcasts” is not only true but also a good principle to live by. Even in our daily lives we give special care to those who are seriously ill or grievously injured. Similarly, children who are weak or unhealthy are given more attention and care over healthier siblings.
Among the Mizo dialects, the Lusei, Paite, Pawi and Hmar grew and established themselves. Their literature in the form of prose and poetry are also well preserved to this day. On the other hand, the development of Ralte dialect, especially in terms of literature has been stunted and declined. Hence, among these Mizo dialects it deserves special attention due to the serious illness and pressure it has endured in the process of its development. Therefore, even though the dialect is near its demise let us not condemn it to its grave but put all efforts into its revival.
Ralte dialect is one of the oldest Mizo dialects and had been spoken a large section of Mizos before its decline. According to Mizo folktale, the Mizo’s migrated or originated from ’Chhinlung’ cave which is believed to be located somewhere in Yunnan Province in China. Various tribes of Mizos came out from this cave and when the Ralte tribe came out they made such a din that the guard of the cave blocked the exit. From ‘Chhinlung’ the tribes migrated to ’Runkhawm’ (Kalewa, Myanmar), the confluence of ‘Run’ and ‘Chindwin’. From here the tribes again migrated to the hills, ’Hmunliah’ and ‘Latiah’ (Hrangṭhiauva: Mizo Chanchin page 8)
The origin of the Ralte tribe and dialect can be traced back to Raltea. Raltea was the father of Ralhlaha and Ralzinga, Ralhlaha was the father of Ralkhama; Ralkhama was the father of Kawltunga, Mualvuma and Siakenga. Ralzinga’s daughter Saitawli gave birth to Kawlnia whose descendants are Chhawngthua, Lelhchhuna and Vanchiauva.
Sanskrit, one of the most beautiful and wealthy of Indian scheduled languages in its glory days has now declined and the many volumes of its literature are no longer read or appreciated. Language can grow and decline. Languages such as Greek and Latin which once thrived in the Greek Empire and Roman Empire in the past have now declined and are only used within the small confines of the boundaries of their respective countries i.e Greece and Italy. ‘Pali’ the language in which the great Buddha himself wrote his sacred text is no longer used. Ralte dialect seems to be suffering from the same fate as these languages.
The decline of Ralte tribe and their dialect may be seen from the Census figures from 1901, 1961 and 2011.(Lathangliana B : Mizo History page 92 and census 2011 excerpt from Manorama 2012 the author)
In 1901 there were 23,827 Raltes but in 1961 Ralte now identified as Lusei had no separate figures for the Ralte population. By this time, most Ralte families spoke Lusei dialect. Although there were still some Raltes who could speak and understand the Ralte dialect. By 1993 there were only some 20 families who used only Ralte and no other Mizo dialect. Also, in this regard, females more than males seem to preserve their dialect longer. The majority of those who can still use the Ralte dialect are 60 years and above. So it is obvious that after the demise of these persons, there will be no one that would be able to use the Ralte dialect which will surely lead to the declination of the dialect.
George Orwell the essayist and novelist, in his book ‘Shooting an elephant’ once wrote about an elephant which after many years of faithful service had to be put down. The elephant had turned violent and killed many persons. Hit Orwell’s first bullet, the elephant looked strikened,immensely old, and shrunken. A mysterious change came over every line of his body. Of this incidence he writes “He was tearing up branches of grass, beating them against his knees to clean them and stuffing them into his mouth; But falling he seemed for a moment to rise, for as his hind legs collapsed beneath him, he seemed to tower upwards like a huge rock topping, his trunk reaching skywards like a tree. An elephant is dying, thick red blood flowed out on to the ground … too weak to die but too weak to live. It took another… half an hour to die.” Likewise, Ralte dialect seems to be crying out for help as its strength and vitality wanes. Ralte dialect is now dying but if it is lying in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) let’s not bury it.
Few books have been written in Ralte and copies of the few that have been written are no longer in existence. The first book written in the Ralte dialect was published in 1920 authored Chalkunga titled ‘Ralte Thu Dawn Dun’. The first chapter is about the Old Testament while the second chapter is about the story of Jesus Christ. The third chapter is about the New Testament and includes 138 ‘thu inchhang’, the Lord’s Prayer etc. The four Gospels were also translated into Ralte. The Gospel according to Luke was translated Chalkunga and published in 1920. The Ten Commandments were also translated. Some extracts from these translations are – “Lalpa na Pathian na thinlung cheng cheng tuah-in na rilru cheng cheng tuahin, na theihtawpin, na chin cheng cheng tuah-in na hehpuih ang hi. Nangmah na hehpuih dut bangin na vengki pawh na hehpuih ang hi”(Bible Luka 10: 27).
In the year 1928 a book of Christian hymns was published R.L Kamlala containing 23 songs. Hymn no 18 ‘Ka tho vinga Ka Pa lakah ka kal teh ing’ which was composed him was later translated into Lusei as ‘Ka tho-vang a Ka Pa hnen ah ka kal teh ang’.
Between 1980 to 1990, the sole development in Ralte literature seems to be the publication of English=Ralte Dictionary. Ralte Lusei translation was also prepared but remained unpublished. For those who can read Lusei, Ralte dialect is not difficult to comprehend but the difference in phonetics makes it difficult to pronounce.
Such being the pitiable condition of Ralte dialect, can modern technology bring new life to this dying Ralte dialect?
Now let us view the profile of the Nine (8) significant Ralte poets and their poems in brief as under –
LIFE: Ralte Lutmang Kamlala, son of Lutzathanga (Brother of Saitulera, former chief of Kawnpui) was born in Ngurlen in 1902. R.L. Kamlala was a hard working and ambitious poet. In 1919 he passed Lower Primary, in 1920-1921 he went to Aizawl M.E. School and passed the Upper Primary. After passing upper primary he worked as a teacher. During his teaching profession he continued his learning and in 1929 again passed Middle English with First Division. In 1919, there was a great Revival’ in Mizoram and R.L. Kamlala was also affected this great ‘Revival’. This revival is the source of inspiration of almost all his religious poems. Most of his religious poems were composed during 1926-1932 while R.L. Kamlala worked as a teacher at Kawnpui.
HIS WORKS: R.L. Kamlala composed 61 religious poems in Mizo, 23 poems in Ralte and 9 humanity poems. Most of his religious poems were composed around 1922-1932, his humanity poems were composed during 1932-1933.
Before 1920 most of the Mizo religious poems were of English origin, some were composed the Welsh missionaries and other poems were translated Mizos from English. These poems were sung without drums and could not satisfy the demands of Mizo people. R.L. Kamlala opined that there is a great need of religious poems which required to suit the culture of the Mizos, and these type of poems could satisfy the Mizo people. He himself composed many religious poems that suit the Mizo culture. According to him, praising God in our traditional way is the best way to please God.
R.L. Kamlala used different metaphor in his poems. We can also say that his poems were full of beautiful metaphors. Some of his famous metaphors were‘Hmangaihna eng’, ‘Hmangaihna thim’, ‘Thihna luiral’, ’Buaina thlaler’, ‘Van pangpar’, etc.
R.L. Kamlala saw ‘heaven’ and when he looked at ’this hopeless world’, the mortal human reminds him of ‘Christ resurrection’ and praise God.
2.PROF. R.L. THANMAWIA
R.L. Thanmawia (Ralte Lalthanmawia) was born to be the youngest son of Vanlalliana at Darlak which is an obscure village of Western Mizoram on the 20th June 1954. He had married to Lalengi Pachuau and is blessed with three daughters and a son. He is presently resides with his family at Ramhlun, Aizawl.
He had done his education under North Eastern Hill University and has served as a lecturer Govt. Aizawl college as well as Pachhunga University college from 1981-2004, he became an associate professor in the department of Mizo, Mizoram university in 2004 – 2011 he has been promoted to University professor and he has been assigned the responsible works of Controller of Examination since 2012 till date. He has written more than 400 essays and articles; 45 poems, 80 short stories, published 46 volumes of books including 21 volumes of his own authorship. He is a famous Ralte poet, novelist, essayist, playwright and fiction writer. Out of 45 poems 12 are prescribed for Academic curricula
1.Lo haw thuai rawh u Class II MBSE
2.Chawngzawng Class III MBSE
3.Savate lenna Class IV MBSE
4.Buannel Class IX MBSE
5.Damlai Pialral I BA MZU
6.Damlai Pialral I BA NEHU
7.Damlai Pialral II M.A. MZU
8.Zingṭian M.A. MZU
9.Senmei M.A. MZU
10.Huan M.A. MZU
11.Enna ropui M.A. MZU
12.Zawlpala leh Tualvungi M.A. MZU
Awithangpa was born on 16th January 1887 at Kanghmun village, Mizoram. He had migrated to Maubuang in 1903. His real name is Hmarlutvunga alias to Awithangpa. He was converted to Christian in 1918 and he became a church elder in 1926. He migrated to a village of Saitulera a Ralte chief at Kawnpui till his death in 1965. He composed a Mizo traditional verse form of 240 poems .
R.Thanghuta, former chief of Zotlang was born in 1894 and died on 5th March, 1954 in Zotlang village. He had only one daughter with no male heir. So, all his assets went to his younger brother Taikhuma, chief of Pukpui village (father of renowned evangelist Lalchungnunga). Thanghuta was also known the name ’Thangkawnga’.
His father was Dara, Ralte chief of Pukpui village. His father did not inherited chieftainship like the Mizo tradition of hierarchy. He used to be an interpreter during the colonial expedition. So he was given Pukpui and Zotlang villages as a gift. His eldest son R. Thanghuta ruled over Zotlang village after he got married. He ruled over the village for a long period of time. He made Zotlang one of the most important villages in the southern part of Mizoram. He was a wise king and was often consulted the government officials on various states of affairs.
Thanghuta considered all his songs to be a ’Gift of God’. In his songs he depicted the world to be full of sorrow and suffering and that only with the strength of God can we overcome this sorrow and suffering. 14 of his songs are included in a Mizo Christian hymn book. Till today his songs are popular among the Mizos especially in religious gatherings.
Some of his famous songs are:
1.He khawvel a ka lenlai
2.Isua hmangaihna ka lo hriatin
3.Ka ralthuamna ka dah ngam lo
4.Khawvel hrehawmah hian
5.Khawvel puan ang a hlui
6.Lalpa nangin I fabo min lawm
7.Lungngaihna in min tuam vel
He looked beyond the world and towards the crown and eternal life that God has promised. He believed he can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’. He will always be remembered through his poems among the Mizos.
Rev. P.D. Sena (Rev. Pangdailova Sena ) was born in 1901 in southern Mizoram, Kawlhawk. The village then was under the chieftainship of Rungnawla. Born to Hangkhawia and Kawlrehlovi Kawlni, Rev.Sena is popularly known as P.D. Sena as he was lovingly addressed during his childhood. Rev. Pangdailova is remembered as P.D. Sena to date.
At the young age of two, the demised of his father left the family with poverty under the care of his widowed mother. The burden of bereavement left him, his elder brother Vawmkaia and mother to joint his paternal uncle at Khawhai (Lungtan locality). After quite a number of major obstacles they moved to a closer neighborhood under the meager care of their widowed mother.
As far as the history of his poetical and composing skills goes, as an individual he was a distinguished, open minded, self-content, man of integrity dedicated to music. Despite his long journey of hardships and obstacles in life, he was blessed with impressive and diligent children. It is noteworthy that among his three children Lalbiakveli, Zaikungi and Thanseia were recipient of National awards for proficiency in their field of service.
Rev. P.D. Sena was a rhetoric composer adept at listless tunes. He was a keen lyricist, fully dedicated to music. Among the Mizo composers he still gains recognition for his mastery and praiseworthy composition. The tune with which he composed made him an exceptional and brilliant composer. He has imbibed the traditional rhythm and tunes in his songs transcending his works to the Mizo Christian Church hymnals.
Amongst his memorable and vibrant songs which amount to six in numbers, one of them is not categorized as a hymnal. There are about six translated versions of his songs from English which can be categorized as a)Lamentation b)Jubilation c)Secularism and songs of tribulation that substantially bring out his outcry of suppressed individuality and memorable sufferings.
Lalmama was born in 5th June 1901 at Pukzing. They migrated to Lunglei and he died in 8th December 1959 at the age of 57. In 1956, he received Citation and cash award of Rs 500 from Guwahati University for his effort in the upliftment of Mizo literature. He wrote Mizo drama ‘Tuaisiala’ in English and gave his thesis “Dances, festivals and customs or costumes of the Mizos” to Guwahati University as requested the University.
He composed 9 devotional songs and translated many songs from English. Some of his songs are included in Mizo Christian Hymn Book
He was born in 23rd April 1949. He is married and now has five children. In the academic line he is under matric. He composed about 30 songs. Among his songs, ‘Malsawmna’, ’Aw ka nunna ka Lal leh Pathian’, and ‘A hming ringtute chu’ are very popular. He recorded more than 40 songs on AIR, and among these ‘Dilna hlawhtlintirtu’, ‘Halleluia’, ’Malsawmna’ and ‘Ram nuam’ are the most requested songs. He released 4 audio cassettes and the album ‘A hming ringtute chu’ is the most sold out. Now he resides in Ramhlun South, Aizawl, doing business for a living.
Roliana Ralte was born in 1st March, 1951 in Lunglei at Rahsi locality. His father was R.Dinga and his mother was Lalngaii. After finishing M.A. History from Guwahati University in 1978, he worked as a Mizo lecturer in Govt. Serchhip College and Govt. Lunglei College till 2003. He left this world on 20th December, 2003 to be promoted to glory.
Roliana Ralte had composed 40 songs which can be classified into 5 categories – Social reform poems, Patriotic songs, Love songs, Nature poems and Hymnals.
Minor poets of Ralte
1.Mizo Hla leh a phuahtute – ‘Hrangbana College
2.Mizo chanchin – Zatluanga
3.Tute nge? – Joseph L. Ralte
4.Mizoram encyclopedia – B. Lalthangliana
5.Mizo chanchin – Hrangthiauva