Actors act out the history of the Chin-Mizo people at the Chapchar Kut festival at Seven Flags Fitness event center, 2100 N.W. 100th St. in Clive, Sunday. (Photo: Katherine Klingseis/The Register)
Hundreds of Chin-Mizo people from across the United States gathered to celebrate one of the culture’s greatest festivals in Clive on Sunday.
This was the first year the Des Moines branch of the Mizo Society of America hosted Chapchar Kut, an event that celebrates the annual clearing of forests for rice paddies to be planted.
Chin-Mizo people are originally from the Burma-India area. Many Chin-Mizo immigrated to the United States as refugees from Burma in 2007.
Now, there about 3,000 Chin-Mizo people living in the United States and about 300 in the Des Moines area.
More than 800 people from the Mizo Society of America’s 13 branches celebrated Chapchar Kut in the Des Moines area Saturday and Sunday.
“There are more guests than we could’ve expected,” said Lal Rin Sanga, a member of the Des Moines-area Chin-Mizo community.
The event’s first day was devoted to sports, particularly soccer. The second day featured a cultural program that included music, dance and acting at Seven Flags Fitness event center, 2100 N.W. 100th St. in Clive.
The annual festival is “very important” to the Chin-Mizo people, Sanga said.
“First, we wanted to keep up the good things of the culture of our country,” Sanga said. “It’s also the only event where we can meet friends from our old country who live in other states.”
Ro Dinga, vice president of the Mizo Society of America, said the festival has three main purposes: to maintain their forefathers’ tradition, to gather Chin-Mizo people together and to preserve their culture.
“It’s to encourage people not to forget their motherland,” Dinga said.
Chapchar Kut serves as a way for adults to teach children the Chin-Mizo culture. It also encourages the Chin-Mizo people to work together, Sanga said.
“It’s to remind our people we are from one community,” Sanga said. “We can achieve things with the community that we cannot do alone.”