It is a well-known fact that Mizoram is a dry state with a strict prohibition law. In addition to this, Mizoram also banned fireworks. These steps may seem like they intend to improve the well-being of Mizoram residents. But they are sucking the life out of people. These days, it seems everything enjoyable that makes us human is now being banned in Mizoram by both the government and religious organisations.
The Mizo community is historically a fun-loving and lively community. They are known for their love for celebrations and social gatherings. However, the strict prohibition laws and the ban on most display of things perceived as worldly entertainment( both by law and the church) is turning the Mizo community into a joyless, puritanical society.
The recent failure of Mizoram’s fireworks ban is a perfect example of how much the Mizo people love fun and life and would risk being punished by the government just for a 10-minute fun at midnight on December 31.
As was predicted, despite the ban, fireworks displays continued to take place throughout the state, leading to widespread criticism and backlash.
The best (or worst?) irony was the state tourism department sharing fireworks pictures from Aizawl on its Facebook page. This highlights the disconnect between the government and the Mizo people and the government’s lack of understanding of the vital role that these activities and traditions play in improving the mental health of its citizens.
Decades of prohibition in Mizoram have not yielded any positive results. Instead, alcohol has become a rare commodity and consuming it has become cool, a symbol of resistance for many young people. Ironically, this has worsened the problem of alcoholism in Mizoram since people are more likely to engage in risky behaviour when they believe they are rebelling against a strict and oppressive system. Even if the prohibition is in force in Mizoram for thousands of years, no power will ever be able to eliminate the prevalence of alcohol and stimulants in the state. People will continue to seek substances that help them enjoy regardless of religious indoctrination or political bans. It is inherent in human nature.
In conclusion, the ban on everything fun in Mizoram is hurting the Mizo people and their lives as normal beings. The government needs to listen to the needs and desires of the Mizo people, not just the religious and powerful elites and recognise the importance of maintaining a thriving and vibrant society which puritanism would never provide.
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Mizoram’s lawmakers must recognise that religion is a method of exercising power, a status symbol, and a profession for the religious elites. The government cannot expect the religious elites to abandon their puritanical moral laws. The religious elite of Mizoram will never agree to repeal prohibition or any move on matters considered “worldly” unless there is a dramatic ideological shift within the church, which is improbable.
When lawmakers are being “yes men” to the whims and aspirations of the religious elites, the state authority is simply giving the powerful class welfare support for their profession. How is it fair that a pastor’s employer (the church) is supported while a widow’s small booze business is condemned? The church, after all, is the second-largest single employer in Mizoram. The strict prohibition laws and the ban on fireworks displays are not the solutions to the myriads of problems facing Mizoram. Instead, a more holistic and compassionate approach is needed to address these issues and create a brighter and more fun future for the people of Mizoram.
The author runs the Facebook page The Mizos. Please note that the views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not in any way or form reflect EastMojo’s position.
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