Below are photos of dad’s funeral, taken by “Ainawn Photography” Studio. This is just a photo blog update of his funeral, and I will update my blog later with our Mizo customary funeral process, which I’m sure many of my non-Mizo readers will be interested in knowing. It is very different from how Christian funerals are conducted in the rest of India.
In our Mizo society, the whole neighborhood community and YMA (Young Mizo Association) play very important roles during a funeral. And since dad was quite well known, there was a huge turnout at his funeral, with many people from near and far coming to pay their last respect.
I will explain all about our Mizo funeral process in my next update including how the community gets involved, so please do watch this space for more. In this post, I’ll just post the photos of his funeral with short captions and brief explanations. Do click on the photos to enlarge.
On dad's funeral, black flags were raised and posters were displayed by the YMA outside our house with his photograph and brief description of him and the reason why he passed away.
People started arriving and they were each handed a program sheet by the YMA volunteers
My dad’s younger brother, with my cousin Mimi Hrahsel assisting him towards our house….
Inside the house, dad laid in his coffin, an open casket funeral.
Our immediate family members sat right next to his coffin
As mourners walked in, they presented flower wreaths to our family…
…or a bouquet
…or our tradition Mizo “puan” (clothing that women wear, like a long skirt)
Before the actual funeral program started, a few people who knew dad well stood up and talked about him, his achievements, his childhood days, his history, the things he had done for our community… basically his eulogy. They mentioned how Chaltlang (our locality) benefited a lot from dad when he was the Chief Engineer of Power & Electric dept years ago (by the way he was the first Mizo Chief Engineer in this dept), how he donated this and that to our community, how he oversaw various self governing bodies like Chaltlang Sporting Club Council, Christmas Fatu Committee etc. Here are some of his friends who got a chance to speak:
Upa (designation for our Church elder) Vanhela, IAS retired and chairman at dad’s funeral program -
Pi Chhawni, Founder of Bethesda de-addiction Center, located at our farm in Neihbawih -
Upa V.Thangliana, President of Civil Pensioner Association -
Pu Rohmingthanga, IAS retd. -
Pu Liannghinglova Pachuau, Engineer-in-Chief, Power & Electric dept. -
Pu Dunglena, PWD dept. Secretary retd. -
Pu Zahlira, Chaltlang MUP (Mizo Senior Citizens Association) leader -
Meanwhile, outside, the YMA brought in more benches for mourners to sit outside since our house was already packed.
There had never been that many people inside our house at the same time, so that was indeed a great honor for dad. It was the perfect sending off. Every room, every terrace, every corridor inside our house was packed to their limits.
Those who didn’t fit inside our house sat outside on the road. Traffic officials blocked all roads leading to our house and diverted vehicles to other routes.
Soon, at 1 PM , the official funeral program started and Upa Vanhela stood up to start the program as the death knell chimed across the entire locality.
My mom delivered the “family message” to the masses, talking about dad and thanking people for turning up
As mentioned in my previous post, I too decided to say a few words in the last minute to honor dad. That wasn’t actually allowed but they made an exception in my case…
Our locality Presbyterian denomination Pastor Rev. J.Lalhluna presided over the program and later sent off my dad…
We ended the funeral function with more singing and prayers…
After that, it was supposed to be a Photo session, but again the YMA allowed us more time since my sister Mazami who flew from UK the previous day the moment dad died had just landed in Mizoram and had almost reached home from the airport.
Later, my sister reached home and got to see dad’s face one last time before they covered his coffin. Her husband Nick flew home with her.
Meanwhile, the coffin cover was being prepared at my uncle’s house next door…
Our neighbors and friends carried the coffin cover into our house after my sister Mazam had spent some time sitting next to dad’s body. They covered him as we saw his face one last time…
The last part of the funeral program was the photo session. This was done systematically, with the MC announcing which group was next to take a photo with dad’s coffin. We do this to remember the dead. Here are some of them:
With leaders of our Chaltlang South Presbyterian Church -
With dad’s family (wife, kids, in-laws and grand kids) -
With dad’s brothers and sisters with their kids and grandkids -
With mom’s brothers and sisters with their kids and grandkids -
With dad’s closest friends (and wives of those who are deceased) -
With top officials and retired officials of Mizoram’s Power & Electric Department and those who personally worked under dad while he was the Chief Engineer -
With members of MUP (Mizo senior citizen association) -
With members of Mizo Civil Pensioner Association -
With friends and colleagues of my eldest sister Lapuii -
With friends and colleagues of my sister Dinpuii -
With my sister’s friends –
With my childhood friends from our locality (just wanna add here that you see only a few of them in the photo because a lot of my friends were busy with the funeral program like fetching benches, making tea and snacks for everybody, valet parking, grave digging etc which they’re expected to do according to our Mizo traditions, I’ll talk more about our Mizo customary practices in my next post) -
With dad’s High School classmates -
With mom’s two bridesmaids when dad and she got married -
With mom and my three elder sisters –
With everybody else who wanted to be in one last group photo -
After that it was time to lay him to rest. Neighbors, friends and YMA volunteers again carried him out from our house.
Unlike those Christian funerals you might have seen in Hollywood movies, according to our Mizo tradition, not everybody goes to the graveyard, just close relatives and friends of the deceased, mainly the youth follow the body to the grave. The rest of the mourners either go home or remain at our house to console grieving family members and sing worship songs.
Our pastor along with our Church elders led the procession, stopping all traffic along the way. The march was silent. My closest friends walked by my side.
Once we reached the graveyard, neighbors, friends and YMA volunteers again carried his coffin to his designated “spot”.
A short final prayer ceremony was conducted at his grave once his body was lowered into his grave
Upa C.Sangzuala said the final prayers…
After that we bid dad our final goodbyes…
While we proceeded back to our house, our friends and neighbors covered his grave. Since we all knew each other personally, according to an unwritten law, family members of the deceased weren’t supposed to be present while the grave was being covered as the volunteer workers didn’t feel good about it…
Dad’s final resting place. Cement, bricks and plaster were fixed the next day, which I’ll write about in my next update.
And that was the end of his funeral. On my next update, I’ll write more about our traditional funeral practices, the involvement of the YMA, the “khawhar in” norms and “mitthi in tlaivar” customary obligations. I’m sure you’ll be interested in knowing about, especially if you’re a non Mizo.
Until then. Take care. And once again, thank you all for your kind words and condolences here on my blog and on social media.