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Singing for Peace: Artists Unite in Mizoram to Aid Manipur Amid Ethnic Violence

Mizoram, renowned for its musical talent, has harnessed the power of music to fuel humanitarian initiatives, with charity concerts emerging as a pivotal fundraising avenue. The state’s generous contributions to aid those affected by ethnic violence in Manipur commenced within days of the turmoil’s outbreak. In the wake of three months of relentless efforts, the relief initiatives continue to grow. From August 15 to 18, the iconic Vanapa Hall in Aizawl resonated with music, echoing the harmonious efforts of top artists. The concerts were not solely for entertainment but a testament to the state’s unity in aiding Manipur.

Mizoram, while facing economic constraints, boasts an abundance of musical prowess. Musicians have adeptly transformed their talents into instruments for charitable causes, with charity concerts becoming a dominant fundraising avenue in the region.

C Dinthanga, a composer with over a hundred songs to his credit and the editor of Lelte weekly magazine, has been an advocate of charity concerts since the 1980s. Reflecting on their beginnings, he recounted how they invited Dev Anand to participate in a charity event aimed at aiding Orissa, raising around Rs 4 lakh. He shared with EastMojo, “We organized a charity concert to assist Orissa. I personally went to Mumbai to request Dev Anand’s participation, and he traveled to Mizoram.”

In a recent endeavor, Lelte Weekly orchestrated the “Helping Hands Concert for Manipur Zofate” on August 15 and 16, 2023. Thirty-eight distinguished artists from Mizoram volunteered their talents, amassing over Rs 17 lakh through the concert and door-to-door collections by Mount Carmel school students.

C Dinthanga spoke of the Mizo people’s deep connection to music, expressing that “The people of Mizoram are fond of music, and greatly value charity concerts for collecting donations. We are people who are sentimental and turn towards music on every occasion. When we are sad, we turn to songs. When we are lonely, we turn to songs.”

The customs of the Mizo people involve commemorating deaths in the community with three nights of singing, where youth gather to express sympathy and offer condolences to bereaved families.

Another group actively engaged in philanthropy is the Zohnathlak Christian Network. Initially formed during the pandemic to instigate fasting seasons for global healing, the network held its first charity concert on August 17 and 18. Hmangaihsanga, co-founder of the network, stated, “This is our first charity concert. Music is the best tool to collect charity. Songs and lyrics have the power to evoke emotions. We want to organize a similar concert in Bangalore and other metropolitan cities if we can find the right partners.”

The unity of the Mizo people to support their brethren was underlined by Hmangaihsanga, envisioning a day when all children, deeply affected by the incidents, unite in song for freedom.

Notable artists who took part in the charity concerts expressed their support. Renowned composer and singer Rpa Ralte praised the strong sense of brotherhood within the Zo community, while gospel artist Priscilla Laldinpuii Fanai emphasized the beauty of volunteers and donations coming together for a cause.

Despite challenging journeys, such as the thirteen-hour travel undertaken by Grace Baite from Manipur to join the concert, the sentiment of unity and shared purpose was undeniable. Grace Baite acknowledged, “We don’t have perfect roads, so it was a struggle and it was tiresome. But it was worth it after we reached here. It (the concert) is a good initiative, a blessing for me and honestly, I really enjoyed it, especially performing with those great artists in Mizoram.”

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