The first Mizo choir to visit North India.

© Synod Publication Board. 1991.

A Mizo Choir first came to the notice of Christians outside Assam at the time of the General Assembly of the Church of North India held in Sylhet in 1929. It received a very warm reception and was invited to the Lahore Assembly. That invitation was initially refused but when Rev. Ralla Ram, a keen and influential leader of the Church of North India, collected 2,000 rupees towards the Choir’s expenses, and issued a fresh invitation, it was accepted.

The Choir consisted of 12 women, 36 men and was accompanied by Katie Hughes ‘Pi Zaii’. Most of the singers had never been further than Sylhet before. When they arrived in Calcutta, after an adventurous journey down river, they were awed to see posters in many places proclaiming their expected arrival. Rev. Ram had made careful preparations. They received a specially warm welcome there, gave three concerts, and sang on Calcutta Radio.

The Mizo Choir went on to sing in Patna, Benares, Allahabad, Lucknow, Delhi, Ludhiana and Agra. In his book, ‘Zosapte Chanchin’, Pu Vanhawla wrote that people’s hearts were touched wherever the Choir sang. In some places the praise was extravagant, “A people who used to hunt human heads are now singing the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’”.

In every concert they sang between 12 and 15 pieces from ‘The Messiah’ and ‘The Holy City’. They also included songs and hymns composed by Mizos, to the accompaniment of a native drum in their characteristic way.

Someone who had been at one of the Choir’s concerts made the following remark — “This is the best argument for Mission work I have ever seen”.

There is an interesting postscript to the Choir’s tour. On their way back to Mizoram from Calcutta, by river steamer, Katie Hughes ‘Pi Zaii’, fell into conversation with a tea planter whose tea garden was in the foothills of Mizoram. He was interested to hear that she lived among the Mizos and told her of an incident that took place a few years before. Not far from his bungalow were many jungle animals and birds, so he took his gun out one day and before he had gone too far he fired a few shots. When he returned the tea garden manager met him in great distress. The tea garden workers had heard the shots and were convinced the Lushais had come to attack them. They naturally ran away as fast as they could in sheer terror. It seems the tea planter, while telling the story, had no idea the Choir was on-board the river steamer and all of them were Lushais. He was dumbfounded when told of their origin, and that they had been on a tour of North India singing choruses from ‘The Messiah’.

One of the most moving choral experiences you will ever have seen.

The children of the T.N.T. Orphanage, Aizawl, sing the

‘Hallelujah Chorus’ by George Frederick Handel... in English.

It was composed in London in 1741.