Print Friendly and PDF

Tuesday, March 8, 2016



What is world view?
Paul. G. Hiebert defines World View as
Behind the observable patterns of human cultures seem to lie certain assumptions about the way the world is put together. Some of these assumptions, called “existential postulates,” deal with the nature of reality, the organization of the universe, and the ends and purposes of human life. Others, values and norms, differentiate between good and evil, right and wrong. Some of these assumptions are made explicit in the beliefs and myths of the people (Hiebert 1983:356).
Michael Kearney defines “the worldview of the people is their way of looking at reality. It consists of basic assumptions and images that provide a more or less coherent, though not necessarily accurate, way of thinking about the world (Michael Kearney 1984:41).
Therefore World View is “the beliefs about the limits and working of the world shared by the members of a society and represented in their myths, lore, ceremonies, social conduct and general values” (  In view of these definitions the Zomis have certain assumptions about reality, of the world, the cause and effect of human culture. I will deal with basic assumptions related to cosmos, time and space, nature, culture and moral relativism.
The traditional assumption of cosmos is composite of three realms: Vangtung (heaven), Leitung (Earth) and Leinuai (under world) (Sing Khaw Khai 1984:86).  The assumption is that the earth is flat like a frying pan and heaven is round as a cover meeting in four corners of the earth. Heaven is the abode of the Supreme Being or Supernatural Being; the Earth is the abode of human being and spirits or demons (Chin Khua Khai 1999: 57). “The under world is rather a mythological realm inhabited by some mythological human beings” (Sing Khaw Khai 1984:86). The under world has nothing to do with human being and it is not to be identified with “Misi Khua.” Heaven, earth and human beings have direct interaction for living and moving. The spirits are in control of space and earth. These has been described in a poetic form “Tung Sian Mang leh Nuai Ziinleeng” in a dichotomy sense. “Tung Sian Mang” means holy king in the highest and “Nuai Ziinleeng” means spirit of darkness in the world.  Heavenly things are holy and earthly things are unholy and immortal. The folk tale “Vantung nungak” (heavenly lady) is about an earthly king who promise to give half of his kingdom to any one who can bring the beautiful heavenly lady down to be his wife. At last the most able man of his kingdom was able to bring the heavenly lady and received half of his kingdom as a reward.  Space is controlled by the heavenly spirit who controls rain and wind. When the spirit is angry with human being there is cyclone or storm and brings harm to them. I remember my mother saying “be merciful, be merciful” when a strong storm hit our house to the extent that it might destroy the house. In response to the request, it is believed, the unseen forces are merciful and the storm calms down. The sun, the moon and the stars move in heaven from one end to the other over the static earth.  The earth is static whereas the sun, the moon and the stars move over the earth. “Lunar and solar eclipses are considered as the sun and the moon being eaten by some powerful being. In olden days when such event took place, they would beat a drum or anything that can make a sound begging, on behalf of the moon or the sun to release them” (Ngul Khan Pau 1995:16). The spirit can cause difficulty on the solar and lunar bodies in heaven as it does on human being.  The causality is not the Supreme Being but the spirits and the effect is harm or disease on human beings.  Therefore there is cause and effect in the Zomi assumption of cosmos.
Time and Space
In contrast to modern management of time, time is under the control of human beings. In other words time has no meaning in the life of Zomis. Time is not counted on the number of hours and minutes but according to lunar and solar movement. Time is counted by sun, moon, season, day and light which is agriculturist’s “view of time”  (Delaney 2004:83). Months are counted on lunar month and twelve lunar months makes one year. For example, pregnancy is ten lunar months and if it is counted by calendar month it is only nine months.  So the Zomis do not make mistake in the counting of months for childbirth. On the basis of lunar month New Year comes at the end of September and celebration of New Year took place in early part of October each year. One day is from the rising to the setting of the sun. A day starts with “khuavak” (dawn),  “annek hun” (meal time), “vaihamsang” (late time to field),  “sun kim” (mid day), “nitak an huan hun” (time for cooking dinner), “vai ciah hun” (arrival time from field), “nitak an nek hun” (dinner time),  “sanggam meelmak” (early dark), “vak hun” (outing time), “ciah hun” (time for home), “ak masa khuan” (first cock crow), “ak nihvei khuan” (second cock crow), “ak thumvei khuan” (third cock crow). Third cock crow is day break. They are very conscious of time and visitors do not in general stay back unto first cock crow. Cocks are time keepers in the life of the Zomis even to day. When Jesus said to Peter “Before the rooster crows you will deny me three times” indicates that the Jews and the Zomis have the same world view of time (Lk 22:61).
Time is seen to be cyclical repeating itself again and again (Chin Khua Khai 1999:60). A day is moving the same way and the year moves the same manner as before.  One year is divided into three seasons: “khuakhal hun” (summer), “guahtui luan hun” (rainy season), “phalbi hun” (winter). These three seasons are divided up into six sub-seasons: “lo vat hun” (chopping tree season), “lo hal hun” (burning field season), “khaici pawi hun” (sowing season), “lo khawh hun” (attending field season), “an lak hun” (harvesting season), “pawl taak hun” (after harvesting season). After harvesting season (October-November) is the best and joyous season in which most of festivals and celebrations took place. Rainy season is over; the sky is clear for the moon and the stars to shine overhead.
One day is divided into three scales, from sunrise to sunset. “Ni khat” is one day from sunrise to sunset. “Sun lang” is half day from morning meal to lunch time, and “Tuibuk muamtam khat” is a quarter of a day. “Tuibuk” is water filtered from ashes of cigarette prepared by women. It is female nicotine juice kept in the mouth until its toxin lasts. It lasts usually about half to one hour and it is used to say for a short time. Jesus statement to his disciples “Could you not watch with me one hour” in Gethsemane will make sense if it is translated as “could you not watch with me “tuibuk muamtam khat” (Matt. 26:40).
Space and distance is not measured by inches, feet and miles but as “suang lot khat” (stone’s throw), “lociing khat cia” (a size of one field), “sun lang pai” (half day walk), “ni khat pai” (one day walk) and so on. “Suang lot khat” is about half a furlong, “lo ciing khat cia” is about a furlong, and “sun lang pai” is about five miles long, “ni khat pai” is about ten miles. The distance between Jerusalem and Mt. Olives would be about a half day walk “sun lang pai.”
Life span is short in the mind of Zomis. Instead of speaking forty years they will say “khang khat” (one life span). They look the future for one or two generations called “tukhang takhang” which means the age of children and grand children (Chin Khua Khai 1999:60). Those who have grand children are regarded as long live. Zomi life is a linear leading from childbirth to death which is the end of time.  Therefore, seasons, dark and light, sun and moon have affected the life cycle of the Zomi in activities including ceremonial duties.
Natural relativism
Human life and nature interrelated to one another. Ngul Khan Pau calls “Harmony with Nature” (Ngul Khan Pau 1995: 15). Water, trees and forest, animals, rocks, mountains are believed to be under the control of some spirits. When they established a new village, the village priest will perform a ritual at the water source. He will say, “You the keeper of this spring, I pray you to grant a living water, to supply water for 30 families (if he wishes to be a village of 30 houses), let the land and water produce food and grains to surplus, let the people become wise and intelligent by drinking this water and let sons and daughters be multiplied. Let the spirit of evil leaves this place and becomes the place of celebrations and feastings” (Hau Thang n.d.  : 60). During this ritual complete silence is observed. By the blessing of the priest it is believed that the water source becomes productive and becomes fresh water for drinking.
When they want to build a new house, they will not select a site where there is a drop or a hole in the land. They look for good healthy trees for housing materials. They will not take a tree where eagles, owls, and snakes once had nest on it in the belief that the spirits of those creatures remain in the tree (Hau Thang : 61).  Trees called “singkol” and “sing lusum” are regarded to be spirit’s habitation and they dare not to cut or touch it. “Singkol” is a tree having a hole in the body or making a hole by the branches.  “Sing lusum” is a tree without branches looking like a man without head. Its literal meaning is a tree without head. It is a sacred tree by itself. It is also believed that wild animals have their overseers. A hunter who is good in hunting is considered as in favor of the overseer of the animal. This is revealed in dreams or by some other means. If a hunter sees a hair of a dear in his dream, he will go out for hunting and kill a deer.  In search of agricultural site the priest will offer sacrifice for approval, test dreams, test the location if there are bones, swamps (Cik), which were regarded a spirit’s habitat (Ngul Khan Pau 1995:16).  In my birth place, a certain forest area is regarded to be under the control of spirits. Whenever that area is cultivated some one will be hurt by natural accidents. During my father’s time one man was killed by the falling tree. After many years, one hunter fell from the rock and broke his leg while hunting. After a long gap one man fell from the tree while picking the fruit breaking his thigh at two points. Therefore proper appeasement of forest spirits takes precedence before cultivating certain areas of land. This kind of traditional concept cannot be done away by western scientific explanations even for Christians. It can be done away best if the Bible is reinterpreted in the sense that nature is created and controlled by God, and spirits have no control of nature.
Cultural Relativism
“Mi amah bekin lian lo” (a man does not become lord by himself) is a proverbial saying among the Zomis. It is opposite to a saying “pastor without peers.” Individualism is discouraged and collectivism is encouraged. Individual cannot live by himself in the absence of others. Carol Delaney is right saying “People do not work alone, there are always household members, friends or relatives to help” (Delaney 2004:105). Peasant life is working in the field at least husband and wife. Children will join as soon as they can. The more working force the more your chance for gathering more grains. They try to accomplish their own work but in case of illness and difficulties you may fall behind others. At such a time relatives and friends lend their helping hand. The motive behind is that you also will face difficulty when you will need help from relatives and friends. This is a principle of being togetherness. If you do not help others, you will not receive help from others. This is also applicable in matters of borrowing and lending materials. Borrowing of money, utensils, household materials are daily activity of Zomi life. There are times when things are given free as direct help. Among close relatives help in monetary or material thing is common even today. Inter-dependent social life is the model of Zomi culture which is reflected in a proverb “hawmsiam nungta, nebum si” (Ngul Khan Pau 1995:17). “Hawmsiam nungta” means one who shares with needy ones receives good life. “Nebum si” is to eat alone and die which means individualistic mindset results in short live.
To be healthy and to be self content is the most aspired of the Zomis. Chin Khua Khai calls it “Peacefulness.” It involves the security of life in all respects (Chin Khua Khai 1999: 56). To gain a peaceful life one needs three essential things: good health (cidamna), sufficiency in food (ankhing kham), and possess a house (inn leh lo nei). The Zomi greeting “Na dam hia?”  means “Are you well or how are you?” Health plays the most important factor in life as the English proverb says “If you loss money, you loss something, if you loss health you loss everything.” Those who gain weight are considered to be well fed. If one has food sufficient for a year is said to have good harvest. If one has sufficient food year after year is well fed. Such a person is considered to be content in economic life. After marriage the main focus is to have a house. To obtain a site for housing and to construct a house is a sign of reliable and responsible person.  Therefore health, food and house are composite values of the Zomi society.
Death is not only a family and individual concern but it is a concern of the whole village community. The community takes responsibility for funeral service, time and place of burial site. If it requires all night watch, young boys and girls will keep watching all night with the relatives and friends. They never leave the family of the deceased alone. Each family will give either food, clothe or money according to ability as a sign of sharing the grief. Rice and firewood will be collected from each family to support the deceased family to compensate their inability to work during the condolence period. This cultural value has an important place in the Zomi society.
Moral Relativism
World View of the Zomi is relatively dichotomy, good and bad, holy and unholy, high and low, light and dark, fire and water, seen and unseen etc. Holy, good and light belong to heavenly realm whereas bad, unholy and dark, belong to worldly realm. This is called dualistic view of cosmos. Darkness is identified with evil and light with divine. It is easily comprehensible when the Gospel is compared to light and sin to darkness.
A good moral conduct is considered to be a source of blessing and good life. Righteous living of parents will result in a good life of children and grand children. Murder (tual that) is considered the most serious breach of moral conduct (killing a person who is not an enemy). “Calamity will sooner or later fall” on the culprit (Chin Khua Khai 1999:59). Sexual immorality and having illegal child damages the character and personality of the person. It is punishable with heavy compensation to the victims according to the customary law.  In stead of stealing other’s possession, asking is encouraged in times of dire need. The saying “Guta delh lohin tai” clearly defines attitude towards other’s possession. It means a thief runs even if he is not run after him. Another saying “Kau nei kisungsia” means a culprit has a guilt feeling even if he is not discovered. The guiding principle of moral conduct includes oral and sayings of the people.
Moral conduct is also expressed in tales and myths. The legend about two brothers “Thangho leh Liando” who faced dire discrimination in food shared a seed of millet. Millet is very small but the two brothers shared equally. The legend is to teach the society not to discriminate people on grounds of birth or origin. The story also has moral teaching of sharing things equally among children even if it is small or little. It serves as moral code of conduct for the Zomis. Parents tell the story to their children to follow the same attitude towards their brothers and sisters. A “Dahpa” (a lazy person) story tells about easy accumulation of wealth which liquidated in no time (E.J.A. Henderson 1965:6-8). The story has a moral teaching not to go for illegal means of wealth which is still applicable today in the world of corruption.
The Zomis have a myth in which the ancestors built a high tower to reach the moon in heaven. When they reached a high altitude, the tower fell and the people who were involved in the construction work fell on different areas. As a result different dialects emerged among the Zo tribes (Scott 1921:105-106). The Zomi world view of language system is similar to the story of Babel in the OT (Gen.11:1-9).
In the Zomi world, cosmos, time, space and nature are co-related to culture. Spirit, myths, dreams and values play as the causes that affect the daily life of the people. The assumption about human life, of world and of moral character has been guided by unseen forces. The daily life of the people is guided and controlled by such forces to the extent of offering sacrifices called animism.

To get the latest update of me and my works

>> <<