Every year, for Christmas and New Year, we have a community feast, known as "ruaiṭheh" in Mizo. Unlike funerals and other community activities which are organized by our local YMA (Young Mizo Association), the Christmas and New Year ruaiṭheh are organized by people within the same Church denomination (known as "Kohhran") of each locality.
I belong to Chaltlang South Presbyterian Kohhran, and our two ruaiṭheh this time were absolutely rocking, just like other years.
But unlike other years, this time, the shameless me didn't turn up for any "fatu" service. Fatu (which can be both a noun and a verb) is the work we do as a community prior to the feast, where various tasks are divided among the community members - some people have to cut the veggies, others cook the meat, and so on.
I didn't go for the "fatu" because, first of all, it was too damn early to suddenly wake up at 4 in the morning when your biological clock is so used to getting up at 8 every morning the entire year. Secondly, it was too freaking cold. Mizoram hit temperatures as low as 5°C just before I came back to Pune, so you can imagine how warm and comfortable snuggling under one's blanket must be. :)
All my friends took part in the "fatu" though, including my dearly departed friend Matea. Here he is with Sanga at the meat chopping section.
Watching these recent photos makes me so sad… I remember him scolding me on WhatsApp for not turning up at the "fatu". If only I knew he and I would never get to "fatu" together again, I would have sooo turned up!!! :(
At our Kohhran, our Christmas ruaiṭheh takes place every year on the 26th as there's usually three Church services on the 25th - morning, noon and night services. Many other denominations follow this rule too, though not necessarily. For example, outside Mizoram, most Mizo Christian Fellowships across India have their ruaiṭheh on the 25th itself, right after the Christmas service, because of the obvious reason that 26th is not a holiday outside Mizoram.
This was us before heading out to our Church service on Christmas day.
And this was after the Church service, as we lined up to get the refreshment snacks and traditional tea.
The next day, like I already mentioned earlier, I bunked the "fatu" and then shamelessly headed out to the community feast with my niece Nancy and her husband Utsav. You may have seen their wedding photos recently on my blog [Wedding in Goa - part 1 | Wedding in Goa - part 2 | Mysore Adventures - part 1 + 2]. This is with Utsav, Nancy and Nancy's mom.
We lined up together to take our food, buffet style. Most of the food counters were similar, they were just there to distribute the number of people lining up, but there were also special counters for senior citizens and those who "cannot eat animals with four legs", meaning those who eat just chicken and egg, and not beef and pork (hehe, there is no separate counter for vegetarians because a vegetarian Mizo does not exist :P )
Took this photo while we were standing in queue. Lovely scenery indeed.
Our turn to get our food. Young members from our community were designated this task of serving to the masses. We had all been through this as we were brought up.
My plate! Sorry it doesn't look very enticing, but trust me, it was dillu! Ohhh the fatty pork pieces, yummmmm!
Once we had our fill, we kept our plates downstairs where another batch of young volunteers were cleaning the leftovers and washing the plates.
We walked around the place taking a few pics…
For me, the best part about going to our ruaiṭheh is that I get to meet almost everybody in my locality. Neighbors, Church leaders, Schoolmates, friends' parents, and maybe even a potential future wife as well :P We shake hands, exchange pleasantries and quickly update each other on what we've been up to. And of course all my friends' mothers were like, "When the hell are you planning to get married???" :P
Since I don't live in Mizoram, catching up with people from my locality is a very important event for me, whereas somebody who stays there might take such gatherings for granted, after all, they see each other almost every day.
Thus ended our awesome Christmas ruaiṭheh. Back when we were rebellious teenagers, our locality circle of friends (Ryders gang) would always hang out together after the feast. We would make a bonfire, and some of us would slyly sip alcohol while others crack jokes and we used to have so much fun together. Sadly now, things have changed. While some members are no longer with us, most of us are now married and with kids. Their priorities have changed, and I don't blame them for that. Only a handful of us are now single and we reminisced on how awesome it used to be back then :'(
Fast forward one week later, and it's the New Year.
I went to Church on the 1st for the New Year service with my family again…
Selfie from inside the Church, once the service was over. We were just sitting and waiting for the ushers to allow us to go out…
I call this, "When you wanna take a Pray-fie with your sisters but one hand is already holding the phone" :P :D
Finally, the ushers came and allowed us to leave the Church. We all laughed because, just like the earlier Christmas service, we were again one of the lasts to be ushered out of the Church! We joked that cousin BTi probably rejected the advances of one of the ushers, so as revenge they made sure our two bench rows were always the last to leave the Church.
With cousin BTi, the reason why we were always ushered out last :D
Matea relaxing after the Church service :(
Matea with his wife Parteii and daughter Amanda :'(
Once all of us were done with the refreshments and tea, my family went home while I headed over to my second family - our Ryders group of friends. We took a few photos together, just like every other year. Our women were busy with some work so it was just us guys this time.
That night, we were invited to dinner at u-Baby's house and I met a lot of wonderful peeps (will blog about it another day). Since the dinner and socializing went on well past midnight, I once again didn't turn up for the "fatu" the next morning :D
But of course, I attended the New Year ruaiṭheh, the shameless me :D
At first I was reluctant, or as we say it in Mizo "inthlahrung" to attend the feast since I did not help out with the preparation, but then when I heard that my friend Moiteii, aka Lianmawii Hauhnar on Facebook, had never attended a single "fatu" for the past 30+ years but always turned up for the ruaiṭheh, suddenly, I no longer felt reluctant. :D
I went to Matea's place which is our usual rendezvous point before heading out together to the feast. Earlier, we used to go together in a large group, but most of us are now married, so the married ones go with their spouses and kids :(
Long line in front of the food counters…
Selfie with Matea, Muansanga, Hriatpuia and Mamawii as we stood in queue. I'm still heartbroken to know this was the last picture I took with Matea :'(
Lines, lines and more lines. The best part about standing in line with friends is we get to joke and laugh so much about friends and anything in particular.
My New Year ruaiṭheh plate. Yummmmmm. So much pork, fatty juicy pork! :D
And thus ended two awesomely prepared ruaiṭheh. This is why I miss Mizoram so much. Eating together with friends over here in Pune is great too, but nothing can really beat that ambience and sentiment of feasting together with your entire locality back home.
The uniqueness of one's hometown.
Bonus after-ruaiṭheh photo: Below on the right is my dear friend Moiteii, aka Lianmawii Hauhnar on Facebook, the one who hasn't been to a single "fatu" in 30+ years but never fails to attend our ruaiṭheh. This is what you call self-confidence; The perfect making of a Manager in a Corporate office :D Be like Moiteii. :P
Hoping to attend this year's Christmas ruaiṭheh again, if everything goes well.
Until my next post then, cheers everyone.