Mizo Ram Katha - The story of Khena and Ram

The Northeast Dialogue


Presence of the story of Ramayana among the Mizo people came as a surprise when Dr. Lal Ruanga presented his paper on ‘The Mizo Ramayana’ at the first ever symposium on ‘The Ram Katha in Tribal and Folk Traditions with special reference to North-East India’ organized way back in February 1986 at Guwahati. The symposium was jointly organized by the Folklore Research Department of the Gauhati University in collaboration with the Anthropological Survey of India. Presenting his research paper along with Dr. Biren Dutta, Dr. Lal Ruanga mentioned the presence of Ram Katha among the Mizos as “Khena leh Ramate Unane Thawn thu” meaning “The Story of Khena and Ram”. Khena is the name for Rama’s brother Lakshman. 

A study has been done on this very interesting aspect of Mizo folk literature by Dr. Lalruanga in his work Ramayana leh Zofate meaning Ramayana and Mizos in 1997, and also by Mizo historian, Sangkima. One of the key primary sources utilized by both these scholars is Mizo leh vai thon thu. It was first collected by J. Shakespeare who conducted expeditions in the then Lushai Hills (As Mizoram was known until 1972). He included this in the collection of tales in Mizo language and published in 1878. His edited work “Mizo Leh Vaik Thon Thu” meaning Mizo and non-Mizo Tales was printed in Assam Secretariat Printing Office, Shillong in 1897. According to Sangkima, this book contains 31 pages of 10 tales one of which is titled “Khena leh Rama-te Unau Thu” meaning the story of the brothers Laksman and Rama, which is the longest tale that covers 11 pages. This book is also considered as the first book of Mizo folk narrative written in Mizo language.

In the 1980s, like the rest of India, in Mizoram, the Sunday morning, the entire families staying glued to their TV sets for an hour. The TV serial Ramayan grabbed eyeballs of the Mizo population.

This is evident from an invocation recited by a Mizo traditional priest (Bawlpu) while practicing divination with the help of a few grains of clean rice put on his palm.

In an invocation to rice used in various rituals related to marriage, death, birth etc. the two characters are mentioned in the following manner:

The influence of this great epic has cut deep roots as the Mizos have imbibed a concept of divinity attached to Ram and Khena in such a manner that both have been accepted as members of the Mizo family of Gods and the creation of the rice plant is ascribed to them.

One can witness several Ramayana versions among the various tribes of Purvottar Bharat. While retaining the structural and thematic unity of the text, communities weave their own plots and sub-plots into the texts.


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