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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Chp 116. Christianity & Culture: Wearing “puan”.

Is the practice of wearing “puan” to Church a compulsory cultural prerogative?

First of all, what is a “puan”? Puan (puan chei, puan dum etc) is a piece of full length traditional skirt worn by women to Church (and other important functions) in Mizoram.




Consolidating many of the email feedbacks I received regarding my previous post (also published at BMA Official website, youthim.com and zawlbuk.net) the question opinionated by the the majority would be “Why do women in Mizoram have to wear puan to Church? It’s not like a woman wearing jeans is less favored by God.”

As Ben and popsugar wanted a short post, my reply would be: “The women wear puan for cultural reasons. That is how every society is. Hope you enjoyed reading my article. Have a nice day. Take care.”

However, as one of my esteemed regular commenters Kima-the-other quoted in my previous post, “I think your length is fine because brevity, as attractive as it may be, often leads to over simplistic reductions”, we really need to understand the concept of culture and religion and their amalgamation first before attempting to scrutinize the legality of Church practices conforming to culture.

Unwritten rules and norms are perhaps the most controversial component of any Society. Most people want to live life as they want, not abiding by any such societal rules. They live by the doctrines of “Live and let live” and “It’s my Life”. Everybody, including me, would love to live in such a Utopian society! However, that is not how things are (sadly). Man, no matter where he lives, will have to abide by certain rules and regulations as long as there is a society around him. This has been proven throughout history.

In any situation where there is an assemblage of more than 1 person, unwritten rules and code of conducts are bound to be framed. Just yesterday, I was playing basketball at our newly constructed Chaltlang community basketball court (finally!). One only has to sit back and observe the environs to know what I’m talking about.

Group of guys gathered at the court to play. Even though there are no rules imposed by the community leaders, the youth immediately started framing their own unwritten rules: You cannot play without sneakers. You cannot play with pants. You cannot smoke inside the court. Every game consist of a game of 7 points, where the winners stay and the losing team is replaced by the next team, all on a first come basis.

Rules need to be framed for the fluidity of the whole process so that everyone can collectively reap the maximum benefit. Playing without sneakers and shorts or taking an occassional puff during the game may not hamper the indivual’s talent, but it certainly bothers the others as a mark of disrespect to both the court and the players. Anybody not abiding by such unwritten rules is immediately treated as an outcast, and can even lead to unpleasant situations.

Another example: Drive around Aizawl in a car, and when you reach an intersection/crossroad where two roads converge into one, the cars from both roads usually move into the new road alternatively (you go – I go – you go – I go) on a turn by turn basis. This made things so much easier for everybody, unlike many other places in India especially the metros where driving etiquette is lost in oblivion and everybody fights to cut in at the least space available (Who dares win / Survival of the fittest). In Aizawl, the traffic police never made such a rule that cars must move alternatively at a junction, but people just comply with the unwritten rule. And anyone breaking such a rule is stared at by everyone, some even abusing that person.

Some people just assume that they can do whatever they want since it’s their life. Even in our Indian Legal system, there are the Do’s and Dont’s. If we can do whatever we want with our life, then why are we required by law to wear helmets when driving a two-wheeler, or to that fact, why do we have to compulsorily put on our seat-belts while driving a car? I mean, if we wish to die from an accident because we did not take the safety precautions, who is KPS Gill or Kiran Bedi to tell us how to safeguard our life, right? Wrong. That is not how things work. Like it or not, if you are a part of something, you have to abide by the laws imposed by that something. Period. Even if you sweat blood and toil to create a business empire dominating the World market, the Government will curb your progress and prevent you from reaping the fruits of your hard labour inorder to prevent monopoly.

And similarly we have our Fundamental Rights (right to freedom of speech, right to move freely throughout India, freedom of religion etc) but each of them comes with certain restrictions/limitations. Hence there is no such thing as an ABSOLUTE right in our Constitution. Even an “attempt to suicide” is a criminal offence in many countries! (For the smart-aleckies out there, “attempt to suicide” means the person failed in his mission to commit suicide and is still alive, hence no smart-ass comments like how can you imprison a man who is dead because suicide means blah blah blah).

Who framed our Indian Constitution? Learned people with vast knowledge on this subject. And who settles disputes regarding our Rights? A Supreme Court Judge well versed in the Legal system. Similarly, that is why I suggested our Church leaders should be more proactive regarding the dress code at Mizo Church services outside Mizoram, because they are the ones who know the teachings of the Bible well enough to guide us. As Billy Jason has commented in my previous post, it is indeed one of the important teachings of Christianity to dress up decently for Church services.

But the definition of “decent” differs from culture to culture. Hence society comes up with how one should dress up for Church. Quoting PC Sarkar from a book I’ve just read recently “Christianity in India” published by CSI, “Before the Christianization of India, there must be an Indianization of Christianity”. He said this during the onset of Christianity in India during the 1800’s to illustrate the importance of culture. In many Churches in India, the women wear “sari” because that is what they considered appropriate. Go to a South Indian Christian marriage and you will know what I’m talking about, where the tradition of tying the mangalsutra is in practice. Similarly in Mizoram, women are asked to wear “puan” because that is deemed “decent” according to our culture. All these are in practice, not to label women who don’t abide by such norms as blasphemous, but rather to showcase the importance of the influence of culture and attached values in Christianity. But in such cases where it is Society that imposes the rules, there will always be the conformists and the non-conformists.

Michael C. Howard in “Contemporary Cultural Anthropology” maintains that “Religion is not merely a matter of belief. It also involves institutionalized patterns of behavior – rituals, ceremonies and the like, which expresses and reinforce religious belief”. Another book I’ve just read (yes I’ve been doing a lot of reading recently *grin*) called “Culture and Religion” by Basil Pohlong, talks about the components of traits and drives of man originating from culture which gets embedded in religion. To quote the author, Pg102,

“I would like to point out here that religion cannot exist without culture. Removed from the cultural context, religion becomes merely blind faith in God and fanatic attachment with a set of rituals, beliefs, priest craft etc. Religion in this form has played havoc in the past. Once we separate religion from culture, it is bound to become the most dangerous phenomenon of humankind. A person of culture is characterized by extreme sensitivity. A sensitive person is not only conscious of his/her social and physical environment, but is quick in his/her reactions to whatever happens around him/her.”

And naturally, once culture comes into religion, conflict arises between those conforming to the rules and those who want to be “independent”. However history has proven that such liberties only lead to the further deterioration of the faith. In a way, culture safeguards the value of Christianity: It acts as a means of adhesion. And the more cohesive, smaller and closer-knitted the community is (like our Mizo society), the more rigorous the cultural norms are.

By all means, not wearing a “puan” to Church does not mean the person is any less devoted to God. However, when there are no such norms to be followed regarding the dress code, people would definitely start coming to Church dressed up in any way that they wished. “Puan” would become jeans, jeans would become mini-skirts, and mini-skirts would become thongs… because with the abolition of societal rules, there would no longer be a distinction between what is appropriate and what is not. Church services would merely become a pastime for erotic display of bare bodies, because the very word “decent” is nothing but a mere conception of the majority originating from culture.

God gave us the power to reason. We must utilize that gift positively, instead of just trying to question every existing dogma without taking into consideration other important factors first. There are things that people just don’t do in Churches, like farting or eating burgers / pizzas during the sermon.

It is possible for someone to chew on that large chunk of KFC Burger and listen to the sermon attentively at the same time, or it is possible for the person sitting next to you to hold his breath while the smell of your fart subsides. But these are things that people just don’t do; “Respect” is the key word here. And again culture plays an important role. Suppose a certain culture treats farting as the highest sign of showing respect, then things might be different. In some cultures, women wear headscarves to Church as a sign of submission to God. Women and men sit together during the Church service in some cultures while they don’t in other cultures. The Greeks spit on the bride during their Church weddings to bless her [saw it on “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”]. Japanese Christian women probably wear kimonos to Church, I don’t know. Cultural norms vary from place to place.

The bottom line is this: As a Christian it is our moral obligation to dress up decently for Church services, and culture does the job of explaining what that “decent” is. Hence to try and explain Christianity without bringing culture into it, is like trying to describe the colors to a blind man. Hence the reason why women in Mizoram wear “puan” to Church.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Footnotes:

Similarly in that lines, wearing revealing clothes to a place of worship is NOT considered as a sign of respect in most (if not all) cultures. To display our bodies vulgarly is not only considered a disrespect to the Church but also a disrespect to our own body and to the other people around us.

[1 Timothy 2:9-10] "I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God."

Having undergone a short stint at a top B-School in India, in the true spirit of MBA culture, I have designed a simple 2x2 chart favored by all MBA students, on the kinds of clothes people wear to Church [The views expressed on the chart are entirely my own, and IIM-Bangalore will not be held responsible or liable to any charges ]


And in order to prevent any smart comments once again [something that my blogposts are not a stranger to], I urge my most respectable readers to be logical and assume what type of clothes would belong to which sex. For example, “Sari” which is under “formal” and “acceptable” is meant for a woman, and will not come under the above two categories if it’s a guy wearing it, hence questions like “What if it’s a guy wearing a sari” is totally unnecessary. The same goes for earrings etc. Your solemnity will be much appreciated. Thank you.

Ps. I think one of the biggest misconception about Christianity is that many people just assume it is a western religion (It never originated from the western World in the first place) and hence people intend to copy western cultures assuming that is how a Christian culture is supposed to be. One should keep in mind the high number of atheists, agnostics and unbelievers within the western civilizations before trying to simulate such cultures in the name of Christianity.

Have a nice day. God bless.

36 comments:

Zorun said...

Bon leh pek khawp mai. Chhiar a nuam khawp mai. Keep it up.

A dad said...

And who, might I ask, are you to opinionate on dress code? Hah! Look at me and behold, for I am the guru of hate and loathe for the Mizo 'today' culture. Naah, just pullin' your leg there. It's probably a nice article, why don't you tell it to me when we meet? Come visit, no?:D You only have time for your studies? Waa waaa :( And I only have time for Booboo :( come visit us again, k?

Anonymous said...

Good writing again, Kima. I just want to add here, i think we should also wear something that is not so expensive (i point my fingers towards churches in MIzoram).

myself said...

yea yea.....i just read half of it,m not that patient when i'm tired...but nice one anyway....

But...i rarely wear "puan" even when i'm there,i'd rther stick to skirts hehehe....buaithlak em mai.

A dad said...

Ermmm..... would this blog still be relevant say 10 years later? Or would my kid laugh at you and your tiny brain? It depends too on the age too, no?
Hey let's debate.

benjamin rualthanzauva said...

yea yea.....i just read half of it,m not that patient when i'm tired...but nice one anyway....

- There you go. Another one here.


You cannot compare wearing helmet according to the law and dressing up as one likes.

I can dress up decently but not according to the norm.

If I do not wear helmet while wearing while riding a motor bike, not only I have have protection for my head, there's no replacement.

Pathian awihna hi chu "choice" a ni.

And when I say brevity, I don't mean make a statement.

kima said...

hey Ill:
Appreciate your commitment to keep the conversation going. Thought this might help. When we speak of culture, it would be helpful if we keep in mind that it is nebulous concept and hence a slippery term when we try to pin it down as a blog entry. Nevertheless, as a reference, let me offer three dimensions of culture and feel free to add or conflate. First, culture is ideational aspect that includes beliefs, norms attitudes and rules of behavior. Second, it has a performative angle or what we’d refer to as ‘rituals’ that connect the members of a culture. 'Kut' is an instance of such repetitive performance where the culture’s history and values are re-enacted and remembered. Third, there is also a material aspect that represents the creativity and originality of the culture. Language, architecture, organization of space, traditional damdawi and food are artifacts of the material culture. These three dimensions provide a culture a point of reference and templates that help make meaning.
The instance of dress that you pick can be seen from these three dimensions. Puan is ideational because it involves attitudes and norms. It is performative cause it is about ‘bih’-ing it and where one bih-s it. It is material as an artifact of Mizo originality and textural virtuosity. All these dimensions help us make meaning of who we are a Mizo and the addition of- as Christians...that bih-ing puan in the church is the ideal.

Yet, the 'new' voices talk of 'choice' and individuality and we must concede that these dimensions are structured by consensus…like laws and articles of the constitution...that these laws are ‘amendable’ through inbuilt procedures. Given this fluidity, we need to ease up a bit on adjudicating measures of decency. Given space to negotiate one's choice/individuality, I believe people will take the agency and responsibility rather than plot to scandalize so that the onus is not on just the elders but on the individuals too. For those voices that clamor for choice and individuality, sure but dont lose the richness, strength and continuity of the matrices of relationships that define who you are.
Im sorry, ive ranted more than i should!

deardiary said...

Sandman, if somebody's going to tell me to wear a puan in Delhi church, that somebody will have to provide a personal conveyance for me.lol.

I think the middle road is sometimes the best. Insisting on girls to wear traditional clothes is a little extreme for me. Nobody ask guys to come in traditional puan, or dhoti, lungi etc either, do they? Wearing formal pants or skirts to church is not entirely inappropriate and very much more practical.

And I dont think 'traditional' always equals 'decent'. Sari blouses and salwar kameez which are v deep cut and almost backless are way more indecent than normal western wear. Who's going to decide which saris or suits are acceptable and which are objectionable? Its better to stop at 'decent' and 'nonrevealing' imho :)

myself said...

@benjamin- I would appreciate it if u don't use my words to make ur point.And what is that suppose to mean?? -"there you go,another one here".

When i state that i don't have the patience,i think kima knows what i'm talkin about.hehe

Anyway,i like this kinda topics.....ben i'm ready for a debate when u are ready :P ..Just don't start about the post being lengthy,just get to the point.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kim, dont get bogged down by people who told you to write short etc, etc. Everyone have a way of writing style, as long as you make your point clear be it short or long, let it be. I regularly read your blog.

popsugar said...

huiss...''sei-ness thy name is Sandman ''

ka reading-glass tel lo phei cuan mit a thip hman vex lom ... ka theih-pa-top cuan ka chhiar chhuak kim vek ang tun tru cu ka tia , mahse,mahse...... (will really really do it in ur up-coming topics , Sandman ,dats a promise, provided dat u do us a favor!!!)

* i chart siam cu leh... va xtreme ang reng ve.... back-less gown leh tube-top church a ha i hmu toh reng2 mo ni le so as u to put in the objectional column....

extremely high heels in object ringot bok a.... inch engxat hi nge 'xtreme' i tih le ... a sang2 hi lom nalh... i wear only high heels ,preferably 3" & above and that (genuine) leather too ... i c nothing wrong w it... (also , vai hur ho ke han rap norsok nan a thra bok)

tattoos... va buaithlak om ve.. rehtei toh boxi lo a , laser removal lah to ropui shi, sum i tum sak don te a nih lem loh phei cuan lo in 'inked' ho khonge an inkhom tak anggg??

helmet/seat-belts Vs wearing revealing dress = ????
* han 'suppose,for example' thra leh lok teh... a in xomna ka va hre lo ve ????

"....In some cultures, women wear headscarves to Church as a sign of submission to God."
* respect leh pect lam vang poh ni lovin , sam pheleng ven nan ka hmang,... a le :)

Sandman wrote " ....because the very word “decent” is nothing but a mere conception of the majority originating from culture."
* hmmm.... 'mere concept' ... chuti si ti nge he thu thui deuh hi i xiah loi shi.....

anyways , ka comment thui ta lutuk mah2...kan in chhun xo don :-)... duh tok ang ...

p.s : "puan" i ngaisang sia... nalh i tih min lo thon la mo le , ka lo ven-ah... :-*

Dr.DZ, lucknow said...

If i am not mistaken, basil pohlong wwrites abt hindu-centric novels/essays and i am a bit surprised u wud quote a hindu ideologist in ur article. because in hinduism, the value of culture is very strong, hence thats why some ppl say hindu is a way of life instead of a religion.

In christianity, if we lay too much stress on culture, we might forget the real issue of the religion: faith. however i share ur view on the way women shud dress up decently for church. i have seen such women wearing what u call tubes at delhi and cal mizo services! very embarrassing. but using culture as a weapon to combat it is quite lame IMHO.

But i admire the way u attempt to bring our culture into this practices and ur entire article made a very interesting read from top to bottom. i really enjoyed ur build-up and flow of ur sentences. i pity the person who is criticizing u just for length n i believe it is the same person who made a dig at u on his weblog/website misual.com. i find his action in poor taste, very poor taste. it is normal i think for such an individualist person to support women dressing in scanty clothes to church. i call him individualist bcoz, in a way just bcoz he finds ur post long and boring, he expects other ppl to do the same. mebbe u can shorten the intellectual gap between u two ;) mizoram needs fresh writers like u who can look at things from out of the box and deliver what u mean to deliver. God bless u too Kima.

Anonymous said...

Let me add what Dr DZ had wrote, I will not call 'him' individualist but a bright guy however lack the mindset of an educated person.

-RD

illusionaire said...

Dear Zorun,
Thank you. I’m really glad you liked the post. I tried to use as few examples as possible during my build-up to the article, but it’s very difficult to explain the concept of culture and Christianity in just a few sentences. Do keep visiting Zorun.


Dear “A dad”,
Hahahaha lal OPie! I am honored by your visit, my biggest critic in this entire World. It sure feels good to listen to your views on this topic :-) But didn’t you mention a long time ago that you are never going to visit my blog, or was that just my imagination? Lolz. Thanx for visiting again dooood. Yup, I’ll come over again one day with my tiny brain to discuss about this topic if that’s what you really want. But first you must wake up before 9am on a Saturday morning and not after 3pm, because with my heavy class schedules, that’s the only time I get to drop by at your pad. And hey, like I’ve always said, booboo ain’t your child; Get a DNA test done. Hahaha. Because a freak of nature like you ain’t capable of procreating. LMAO. They say seeing is believing: I saw booboo. I still don’t believe. *BIG GRIN*
Ps. Oye, stop using my blog link address in your comment website field! :-)

illusionaire said...

Dear anonymous [1],

I too am against wearing expensive and extravagant clothes to Church. As I quoted from the Bible in my post,

[1 Timothy 2:9-10] "I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God."

We’ve been taught since childhood to wear our “best” clothes for Sunday services, as a mark of respect to God. However, would it be fair to conclude that to equate “best” as “most expensive” is a misinterpretation? That’s my personal opinion. Because along with the adjective “best”, the word “modest” should also be present. And there is nothing modest about being extravagant.

I found this article online at “www.gotquestions.org”, a great site that answers Christian related queries.

It is always the heart God is looking at, rather than the exterior. However, what we wear to worship our holy, pure God may be an indication of where our hearts are. If you have never considered it before, ask yourself, "Does it matter to me how I look when I am going to worship the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords? More importantly, does it matter to Him?" We must all be the judge of that for ourselves. It's a personal choice, keeping in mind that having a proper attitude toward God Himself is important preparation for worship at church.

I guess that sums up a lot of answers. If we are only worried about how much flesh we should reveal to the others in order to excite them at Church or how expensive or extravagant the clothes we are going to wear is so that we can show-off infront of others at Church, pray do tell me, would that be the proper attitude we should have when we go to Church? It is indeed possible to wear respectable decent formal clothes that are not expensive.

illusionaire said...

Dear anonymous [2],
Thank you for your kind words of support. Being a blogger for nearly 4 years now, it is quite easy to differentiate constructive criticisms and unavailing criticisms, so such statements made by my respected readers do not bog me down. Constructive criticisms help us improve in whatever we do; hence we should always be open to it. But I really appreciate your concern and I hope you keep visiting my blog. God bless you my kind friend.



Dear Kima,

Im sorry, ive ranted more than i should!

Hey brother, no need to apologize! You know I always enjoy reading your insightful comments on my posts. Thank you so much for your addition on what culture is and its significance within our community and religion. I agree the consensus of the majority plays an important role in defining what is culture and that we need to be aware of the changing-times around us at the same time too, as no culture can remain stagnant forever.

But if you look everywhere down the pages of history, one can observe that such changes happen only one step at a time. A sudden radical change has never been welcomed anywhere. When Columbus said the Earth was round, he was first treated as an outcast, and sailors did not immediately sailed out in search of a new World. When slavery was abolished in America, the slave culture never died down immediately. Similarly in India, caste based discrimination still exist even with so many laws passed. Conservative Indian families are opening up more to love marriages today, but this process is slow. Likewise, if we are ever going to replace the puan at Churches in Mizoram, one should expect a slow change.

illusionaire said...

Dear deardiary,

Like I mentioned in my earlier post too, one cannot wear puan outside Mizoram to Church services because of various reasons, like the difficulty in transportation, the distance of the Church, the climate, the fact that one might need to go to office or function right after or before the Church where wearing the puan is not so appropriate etc. This particular post is dedicated only to the Church services within Mizoram.

I agree the middle road would probably be the best road to take, because traditional (tribal) dresses and party dresses on either side might be a bit too extreme. But this is exactly what I tried to point out in my post by bringing culture into it. What is the definition of “the middle road”? You might say something not too extreme or revealing. But as very evident from the comments in this post and the previous one, people’s conception on what lies in the middle vary. We have people saying knee-length skirts are okay, while others say mini-skirts are okay, and a few others saying there is nothing wrong in exposing a lot flesh because “what counts is the inside”. Hence in the midst of all the disagreement, I feel that it would be in the best interest of the Church and Churchgoers to continue following this unwritten law of wearing a full covering traditional puan to Church in Mizoram. Men on the other hand would not be deemed decent if we wear our short traditional “mini-skirts” *BIG GRIN*

illusionaire said...

Dear RD,
We are deviating from the topic. All of us are different and it would perhaps be a good sign of maturity if we argue with each other’s opinion instead of attacking each other personally. God bless.


Dear Dr.DZ lucknow,
In christianity, if we lay too much stress on culture, we might forget the real issue of the religion: faith. however i share ur view on the way women shud dress up decently for church

I don’t know if Basil Pohlong was a Hindu ideologist as you pointed out, but as you yourself had agreed, people should dress up decently to Church. What I tried to present in this article is, decency is fine but who can define decency other than society? Suppose four people ABCD get together. “A” wears a dress that she considers decent, but B, C & D do not agree with A. Eventually, no matter what A thinks, if she wears that dress, she is indecent. C’est la vie. Hence, as a measure to prevent such incidents, suppose everybody follow an unwritten rule of wearing a traditional dress that is considered decent by the society, wouldn’t there be much less haggling?

About that article at misual.com about me, I did receive a couple of smses about it last night, but I’m sure it’s all in good fun. I didn’t get a chance to check it out because of the tortoise internet connection here at Aizawl :-) but Ben and I are close friends who make fun of each other this way. Among friends it is normal sometimes to make fun of each other harshly. Peace, doctor DZ. I really appreciate you taking the time to post your view.

illusionaire said...

Dear myself,
Hehehe… how does it feel to be misquoted? :-) So you’re challenging Benjamin to a debate here? This would be interesting!!!! Can’t wait to hear both sides of the argument. Get up get up, you’ll be late for Church :-) Hope you had a great sleep. Muaaah.



Dear Popsugar and Ben,

You cannot compare wearing helmet according to the law and dressing up as one likes
helmet/seat-belts Vs wearing revealing dress = ???? a in xomna ka va hre lo ve

If you had read my article properly (which I’m sure you don’t want to anyway) you will find that I never compared wearing seatbelts to dressing up decently for Church, and the reason why I mentioned the seatbelt was to give an example on how people everywhere will have to abide by the laws imposed by the other people around them, whether they like it or not; Even if a person does not care about his safety and, in a twisted way, does not mind dying at a road accident, he will still have to wear helmet/ put on seat belt. Similarly, from a cultural perspective I just tried to bring out the sociological factor on how people have to abide by societal norms as long as they live in a group/community.

back-less gown leh tube-top church a ha i hmu toh reng2 mo ni le so as u to put in the objectional column....

Yes. Kum 20+ phai ah ka awm tawh, phai a Mizo service ah chuan ka hmu ve fo thin e. Heti lamah hi chuan in hnial lo mai ang my dear popsugar, i thiante phai a awm rei tawh deuh Inkhawm thang ho kha zawt la, an lo hrilh hrim hrim ang che.

i chart siam cu leh... va xtreme ang reng ve....

dear popsugar, I think you are confused between the meanings of “objectionable” and “impermissible”. The last word is laid down by law usually by force, whereas the first word “objectionable” is just an opinion of disapproval that every individual is free to make. For example, you find my post lengthy and not worth reading; can I call you “extreme” for that? No, because the way you feel about my post is a matter of personal choice. Had I used the words “prohibited” or “impermissible” instead of “objectionable” then you might be justified in your accusation of extremism. Mentally if I object to a chicken crossing a road, that is not extreme. But if I go around with a gun shooting every chicken that crosses a road, then yeah you can call me extreme :-)

p.s : "puan" i ngaisang sia... nalh i tih min lo thon la mo le , ka lo ven-ah... :-*

Hetah chiah hian ka thiante ka sms kual a, hmeichhia i ni tih ka hre ve chiah :-) Mipa emaw i nih ka lo ti char char a. hihihi. Ok puan nalh deuh ka rawn thawn ang che, i address tah hian rawn post la, i hming nen :-P

Calliopia said...

Shags, I wasn't going to comment because this topic doesn't exactly interest me, to be honest. But since you asked... btw, you're forever asking me to leave a comment on your blog but I rarely see you leave one on mine. You know what they say about "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours".

Anyway, in answer to deardiary's logical objection to wearing puans in the hot plains you wrote "This particular post is dedicated only to the Church services within Mizoram". Forgive me for being a bit dense but I've lived and attended church in Mizoram for a considerable number of years and I haven't exactly seen women wear anything else but puans, to say nothing of scanty clothing. Maybe they wear miniskirts in your veng, hey? :P

And then I have to concur with diary again about your stress on the cultural part. Puans are traditonal clothing for Mizo women and men. So if it's tradition and culture for Mizo women, why not for men? Why the double standards?

illusionaire said...

Dear J,

I asked you for your view because you're the all-knowing expert on this matter :-) But I seriously don't know what comments to leave on your blog filled with literary works and poetry. But ofcourse I will try to leave a comment here and there when you post about anthurium again *grin*

What went on between me and deardiary was a different thing. If you had read my previous post, you will notice that I agreed it might not be the wisest choice for a woman to wear puan to Mizo Church services outside Mizoram. And the main theme of this article and the past article was about dressing decently to church, and also about cultural importance. And then people brought in topics like dressing up decently in Churches, and those who said they can dress up in any way, and then there was a discussion on people not agreeing to dress according to the cultural norm in Mizoram. hence a whole lotta confusion! :-) Hence the reason why it might sound as if I was finally speaking out against women in Mizoram who do not wear puan to Church when infact they all do... aaarrgh confusion and chaos! do forgive me J. I am just an amateur at this.

illusionaire said...

OK regarding the "double standard" you and deardiary mentioned, well, what I feel is that, for men to wear the so called "puan" to Church, it might not be quite proper, because of the length of the cloth which is extremely short.

I've been to many Mallyalee Churches (Catholic, Marthomite and Jacobite) where the men sometimes come wearing their version of the lungi/dhoti called "vesti" to Church. For them, it is alright to continue such tradition as the vesti covers the entire leg, and when it is tied, it still covers beyond the knee.

But in the case of a mizo tradition puan that guys wear, the length is extremely short (barely around knee) and may expose certain undesirable parts especially while sitting. Whereas a female puan comes down almost up to the ground. That is why I feel this should not be looked upon as a "double standard". Maybe other people with more knowledge on this can shed some light...

kima said...

Hey Ill,
Though I dont usually respond to your response to my response to your blog entry, I thought i would just revisit what i had written in response to your blog on racism..."The implications of a creation of modernity, race being among the many, need to be considered beyond thick descriptions and pushed to critical positions whereby people are conscientized..." Do we abbreviate or wind off into thick descriptions, do we get entrenched in double standards or take up critical positions? As tenable as your defence against the allegation of double standards has been, I think it has left its taint. I concur with you on change being a process and not an event and lets keep talking about it. Although this is not a confessional booth, i do long for the idyllic hmanlai of our mothers and fathers keenly aware that these essentialized reifications would have to address change, modernity (even post-mod)and individualisation that affect all of us.
I thought Calliopia's (tingled by the choice of a muse) issue with you is one that must be excavated further than just propping up Minu Pawls...also to keep the conversation ticking. And as much as i envision more agency and responsibility as these issues play themselves out in the larger society, it might do us good to consider the delusionality of their seductive promises.

illusionaire said...

testing connection...

illusionaire said...

Dear Kima (the other),
As a response to your response to my response to your response on my blog *GRIN* let me just state that all the broadband connections in Aizawl are down currently and I am coming online from my cousin's dinghy ol' dial-up connection. Irrelevant as that may sound, I just want to post that to show my appreciation once again for continuing this conversation.

I am no expert on our culture and tradition, and have read quite a lot of books to enlighten me more on not just our culture but in general all the tribal culture and custom of India. What I have observed is, sometimes traditions are still practiced today depending on it's level of assimilation with the modern world. For example, we Mizos now no longer go around parading our head-hunting heritage. Those are of the past. Yet there are also parts of our culture that refuses to die down, because it does not seem out of place even in the modern world. Female puan could be such an example. Male puan on the other hand, is worn usually only on cultural festive occassions now. Maybe this have something to do with its association with the head-hunting practices of days bygone, where a warrior clad in such a "dress" would proudly bring home the heads of the enemies killed in battle. Maybe.

Kima-the other said...

Hey Ill,
As a response to your response to my response to your response to my response to your blog..with an even wider grin, I sincerely hope, as i did, that we'd all have learned a little more than what we already knew about culture and tradition by negotiating seemingly mundane issues like 'puan'.

As an afterthought, I think the male puan could be revived. Fijians wear their puan to their knees with shirts and ties. Scots wear their kilts. No, we shouldnt do it just because other cultures do it but it would be a step away from the Victorian sensibilities that we've taken on as part of our assimilation. And if the puan had some grotesque signification, im sure time would have baptised it by now. Reminds me of a resurrection of a submerged tradition...which again reminds me of this week. Wishes and prayers to you on this Easter day. As one song interpreted it...

Love crucified arose
And the grave became a place of hope
For the heart that sin and sorrow broke...

neOn said...

No Mizo blogs like you do Kima. I know how much effort it takes to maintain a blog like you do. You're truly one of a kind! Gud to see so many enthralled by what goes on in your head!

Get into politics, I'll campaign for you!

:)

That same dad said...

I'll try to ask this as gently as possible, ermm... isn't it people like you you drive people like us away from churches? Ask yourself that, discriminator. Did God or whatever ask you to ask you to pick this topic so that I could feel more self conscious and never visit church again? Why don't you blind your eyes? Eh? Look closely at society and you'll realize it's changing, you should prolly look closelier ;) cuz seems you can't see it. You're just one of the many who can't accept change and all you do is grumble in a mature way. eg. A blog topic. Let us wear whatever we want, even we know what's extreme and know when to stop. When I see beautiful women, makes me thank God. See? It even makes me realize there's a God out there, sadly, teasing me. With his beautiful creations. On Sundays. :(
Heh . Anyways I don't damn and I don't give a care abt the topic anyways. It has nothing to do with me right? Haven't gone to church in a long time. I must see what you're talking abt anyways. Hehe. But it's nice to shout in circles once a while. And putting life in your undead blog.
* Changed the link
*My son is my son :P too bad u don't have one you impotent asshole.
*Why dontcha come on Sunday, I'm always free then.
* I think I said all those stuff cuz I like to watch beautiful girls.
*But seriously, it's people who melh hrek2 me and trong sep2 that makes me shy away from gatherings. That's what got me replying to this blog.
Wokie cya.

That dad again said...

In my opinion, peeps should wear whatever, but a cameltoe or a mooseknuckle crosses the limit.

popsugar said...

Sand-puan-man wrote : Yes. Kum 20+ phai ah ka awm tawh, phai a Mizo service ah chuan ka hmu ve fo thin e. Heti lamah hi chuan in hnial lo mai ang my dear popsugar, i thiante phai a awm rei tawh deuh Inkhawm thang ho kha zawt la, an lo hrilh hrim hrim ang che.
*** i actually spent just abt 10yrs of muh life in ZRM....inhnial lam pang poh ni lo ve..inhnial hi ka thil peih lo zinga mi ni tlats.. but nvr saw such ppl ... :)

Sand-puan-man wrote : Hetah chiah hian ka thiante ka sms kual a, hmeichhia i ni tih ka hre ve chiah :-) Mipa emaw i nih ka lo ti char char a. hihihi. Ok puan nalh deuh ka rawn thawn ang che, i address tah hian rawn post la, i hming nen :-P
*** mak ve ooo... ka nick trang pon hmeichhia ka nih cu chiang reng sia... ka pen don che mo ni leee.. ka address cu public forum ah cuan xiak lo mai ang auh , ka nau ... u know who to call...
( i ron speedpost don nia :) puan thar ven tur ka mamoh toh khups mai :P ... a ngai reng cu ninoms :( )

That dad again said...
In my opinion, peeps should wear whatever, but a cameltoe or a mooseknuckle crosses the limit.
*** amen , i ti dik lutks... hei cu ka ngaithei lo reng2...

illusionaire said...

Dear Daddy :-)
Love your comments as usual. Harsh, brutal, and insensitive. Typical of somebody jealous of my “fatherless” status. Lolz. Ok I take back the comments about booboo. He’s a sweet baby. I just hate to see him suffering because of the way he cries whenever he looks at you! Haha ok ok no more jokes on this topic, let’s be serious. By the way I came to your house on Saturday again. As usual you were still sleeping.

Let’s get to your comment now. Do me a favour bro. A big favour. Read your comment carefully, from top to bottom. Done? Now read my post carefully again, from top to bottom. Done that? A bit embarrassing isn’t it? :-) You will find that in my entire post I never mentioned once about not welcoming people who don’t dress up decently to Church. I confess my previous post may have been a bit more opinionated, but this current entire post is just an attempt to look broadly at the amalgamation of Christianity and culture, and the way Church practices and rituals vary from culture to culture.

Yet, in a weird way, many people just assume I am lashing out at them for dressing up indecently to Church. Sure I disapprove of people wearing indecent clothes to Church which is a personal opinion everyone’s free to make, but in this particular post, the main theme is about the influence of culture on Christianity and how it forms an idea on the individual’s mind about his/her conception on what “appropriate” means.

You're just one of the many who can't accept change and all you do is grumble in a mature way. eg. A blog topic.

Accepting change has a very broad implication. What kind of change are we talking about? Change for the better? Change to extremism? Change to promiscuity? Depending on the kind of change, a person’s mind is ready to accept it or resent it.

isn't it people like you who drive people like us away from churches?
Did God or whatever ask you to pick this topic so that I could feel more self conscious and never visit church again?
Anyways I don't damn and I don't give a care abt the topic anyways. It has nothing to do with me right? Haven't gone to church in a long time.


Dear Opie, ask yourself frankly and honestly. Are you sure this is the only reason why you stopped going to Church? You know me personally very well for many years now. Am I the type who look down on people because of all that? As mentioned before, in this post I just tried to look at this issue from a broader perspective, bringing the influence of culture into it.

I think I said all those stuff cuz I like to watch beautiful girls.

hehehe.. well atleast you’re honest :-) Do keep commenting bro. Will definitely come this Sunday. Got a chocolate for booboo.

illusionaire said...

Dear Pu Neon,
Hihi. Politics, that’s definitely not my cup of tea. Serving the people is one thing, but the process involves a lot of dirt slinging. Instead, that is why I am trying for the civil services. :-)

Dear Popsugar,
Apology once again on mistaking you as a guy. I’ve sent the “puan” you requested. I’ve sent it to your address: “To, Popsugar, c/o misual.com, Internet.” Did you receive it? :-)

Dear Kima,
Easter greetings to you too. I hope you had an uplifting experience at Church. Regarding your comments, “puan” may be seemingly a mundane issue to haggle over unnecessarily, but it is also one of the limbs that pull us all together to maintain our cohesion. I agree maybe it would be only fair sometimes to recommend for the men to wear such a puan too, but it is the consensus of the majority that once again play an important role. The question is, who is going to carry the torch and lead the rest of the guys? :-)

illusionaire said...

hehehe I see the attacks at misual.com have started again, with the usual miquotations... :-)

FishtankOwner said...

its simple -

will you wear PUAN to a disco ? you would wear a party dress something sexy and slinky. if you wore a Puan or some dress that covers you from head to toe you wouldnt be filled with any party spirit :); importantly - you wouldnt belong with the party crowd.
so in that logic you wouldnt wear a sexy backless waist length skirt to church for the same reverse reasons.
not a very good example but i hope u know wat i meant

Anonymous said...

Mizo women wear Puan in the church becuase it a a very formal dress for us, we want to dress formal in the church, whenever i attend important function in the Ministry (I work in Delhi, central govt) i normaly wear Puan, just like my Vainu friends are wearing Saris when they want to look formal, its simple.

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