I wrote briefly about the Mizo tradition of "ralna" in my old post [Mizo customary funeral rites] when dad passed away.
"Ral" or the act of "in ralna" is a unique Mizo term for which I don't think there's any direct English translation (if there is, please do let me know). "Ral" is our Mizo customary practice of visiting the family of somebody who has passed away recently. During such a condolence visit, money or a "memorial certificate" is given to the family, usually to somebody that the visitors are most acquainted with.
We have "personal" ral and "official" ral. Personal ral is when you visit the mourning family anytime, usually unannounced, and spend some time there and then subtly give them money before leaving. Official ral on the other hand is organized more "officially" and it is done as a group. The time of the ralna program is set well in advance, and it even comes with its own "programme sheet", like who's going to chair the programme, those who are going to make a short speech, the song that is going to be sung etc. Tea and refreshments are also served on such occasions.
As I mentioned in my previous post, during my recent vacation back home, our group of friends decided to "ral" our dearly departed friend Mapuia who passed away on November last year (blog post: RIP Mapuia). Although this practice of "ral" usually happens on the same day or a few days after the funeral, our group of friends conducted it only recently because some of us weren't present in Mizoram.
Our Chaltlang circle of friends is very tightly knit. Most of us are neighbours and we all grew up together. Although I was away in boarding school most of the time, every time I went home, I would spend as much time as possible with them. We always sat in the same Sunday school section together, went to the same birthday parties or Christmas functions etc etc. We became like family. And that's why it was important to wait for the other members to be present in order to conduct the "Ralna" programme.
So on 3rd January 2016, our circle of friends, known as "Ryders", conducted the "ral" programme of our dear friend Mapuia. What made this even more special and poignant was the fact that Mapuia was the one who came up with the name "Ryders". Ryders is also the name of our basketball club and though most of us are no longer fit enough to play, some of us are still involved with the club. It has now been renamed to "Chaltlang Ryders", currently participating in the ongoing "Mizoram Super League" season II, while our original gang of friends continued to be known as Ryders.
We all gathered at Mapuia's house for the "ral" programme.
The mood was sombre, and we tried to keep the ambience light by talking about the good old days...
There was a slight delay as BSa was late, and so we waited for him. He being a Man of God and stuff, was always busy with various Church activities and meetings.
Finally once BSa arrived, we all went inside and started the programme. Dr. Rintluanga was the chairman of the programme. He's probably Mapuia's closest friend within our circle of friends and it was really strong of him to take up this responsibility of leading the programme.
BSa then conducted the Bible reading and prayers, followed by a short but very powerful sermon. He talked about how we've already lost four members from our circle of childhood friends and the need to look after one's body and to abstain from anything that can make us meet our end faster...
After the beautiful sermon, on behalf of our group, Machris-i presented a framed memorial certificate in remembrance of Mapuia to his mother nu Rozami. Nu Zami was also presented with the traditional envelope of "ralna" money which was contributed by our circle of friends.
Nu Zami then delivered a short speech, talking about various things from the times we were all just kids and how we used to play basketball together on their courtyard, to the last few days of Mapuia and his suffering in the ICU. She also spoke about Maremtea, Mapuia's brother who passed away six years ago. It was very hard not to let a tear roll down.
After that, the programme was thrown open to anybody who would like to stand up and share what they would like to say. Mazualtea and Rintluanga stood up and talked about Mapuia and his qualities and how he used to make anybody around him laugh, and what a bright person he used to be during his school days.
As the programme came to an end, Robert conducted the prayer service, which was followed by all of us standing up to say the Lord's Prayer together....
After the programme we had the refreshment (ok technically we had it earlier since BSa was late, but since it's supposed to be after the programme, I'm just putting it like that here :P )
It was tea and noodles mixed with some other stuff. We all ate our fill.
Before parting our separate ways, we all took a couple of group photos together. Click on the image below to enlarge to a new tab if you want.
What is sad, is the fact that our circle keeps getting smaller and smaller. But then again, that's life. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
I recently came across a new song by W.A.S.P. called "Miss you". First of all, I couldn't believe the band is still around! And secondly, the song is awesome and still follows the 80's glam rock style of music. Hence to end this post, I would like to dedicate this really touching and melancholically beautiful song to Mapuia. Cheers my brother, until we meet again. Ryders for life.
Lost inside a room
A priest at the door with news
Said you're gone
Now I knew
My world was broken in two
I pray that you were here
To hold my heart
I hide myself in your bed
Crying myself now
Oh God I miss you
Tell me can you hear me
Oh God I miss you
Can't scream and I can't speak
Show me now
Will I ever be free