They plan to dance their way into the Guinness Book of World Records. Around 12,000 young men and women in Mizoram will move rhythmically between clicking bamboo stilts to set a record as the largest dance congregation in the world Friday.
‘Over 11,900 dancers in traditional costumes from all the eight Mizoram districts will assemble at the Assam Rifles ground in the heart of Aizawl to demonstrate the world’s largest and longest dance ensemble,’ Mizoram Art and Culture Minister P.C. Zoramsangliana told IANS.
The bamboo dance, locally known as Cheraw dance, is part of the biggest and most popular traditional Mizo festival Chapchar Kut – Mizoram’s harvest festival – celebrated to mark the end of winter and the arrival of spring.
Cheraw is the most colourful of Mizo dances. Dancers move by stepping alternately in and out from between and across a pair of horizontal bamboo poles, held on either side by people sitting face to face.
‘Originally, the dance was performed only to ensure and wish safe passage for the soul of a mother who died at childbirth. Cheraw is a dance of skill and alert minds,’ the minister said.
‘Cheraw is, therefore, a dance of sanctification and redemption performed with great care, precision and elegance.’
The minister said the adjudicator of the Guinness World Records would witness the mass dance extravaganza Friday.
‘Last year, the largest dance gathering was held at Cebu in the Philippines, where 7,700 people jived together,’ he said.
Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni and a host of other dignitaries from different parts of the country are expected to witness Mizoram’s attempt to set a record for its customary bamboo dance.
Ashish Bhowmik, an expert on Mizo life and culture, said: ‘Cheraw is a very old traditional dance of the Mizos. It is believed that the dance existed way back in the first century when Mizos were still somewhere in the Yunan Province of China, before their migration into the Chin Hills in the 13th century and eventually to the present Mizoram.
‘Some of the tribes living in Southeast Asia have similar dances in one form or the other with different names.’
He said the dance is now performed on almost all festive occasions. Gongs and drums are also used to accompany the dance. These days modern music also complements the dance.