My pre-travel research told me that this is one group I must seek out and meet in Aizawl. All through the trip, in Aizawl, In Lunglei, in Thenzawl and in Sirchip, I’d seen numerous retail outlets with typical Jewish or Israeli names.
The presence of these everywhere made me think that it would be easy to find the people and was putting off the ‘finding-out’ for another day.
Right after the Chapchar Kut festival as I was walking back to the taxi with my English speaking guide Emily, I suddenly noticed this board :
I told Emily I’d like to meet them and we walked into the building and up the stairs to their office. She went in and came back with the news that the office people were in a meeting and would be free in awhile.
As I prepared to park my bags and get comfortable during the wait, a lady came out and welcomed us in. They had interrupted their meeting to receive us. (The hospitality and graciousness is such an endearing feature of North East Indians).
There were about ten people sitting on the benches facing the worship altar. (Please excuse any errors that may arise because of my ignorance of the correct vocabulary)
Over tea and puris, the lady – the chairperson began telling us all about their people in the Mizo language and Emily intermittently translated her words.
Here are a few things I learnt :
That these descendents are now spread over Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura and Myanmar and number about 200,000.
That DNA testing was done a few years ago and the genetic lineage was established.
Te Bnei Menashe or descendents of Joseph, Menashe and Ephraim travelled found their way to Mizoram along the following route:
BC 722 : Israel
BC 621 : Asuria
BC 523 : Afghanistan
BC 340 : Vietnam
BC 320 : Japan
BC 212 : Mongolia
BC 5 : China
AD 333 : Tibet
AD 1230 : Burma
AD 1304 : Plainchin
AD 1400 : Kallay Hills
AD 1558 : Mizoram
Here are a few pictures of the meeting room and the members.
Fascinating cultural migration!