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Lakher also known as “Maras” Pitek, Emily
The Lakher, who refer to themselves as the Mara, “inhabit the south-eastern corner of the Lushai Hills district, south of the Haka sub-division of the Chin Hills, and the extreme north of the Arakan Hill Tracts” (Parry, 1932:1). This area is located primarily in the Indian state of Mizoram, but also extends into Burma and Bangladesh. The Lakher are comprised of six groups: the Tlongsai, Hawthai, Zeuhnang, Sabeu, Lialai, and Heima. These groups are further subdivided into clans, but the village (led by a chief or bei) is the primary social, political, and religious unit. This entry focuses around the time of 1930; just six years after the Lakhers came under British rule. At this time, Lakher customs remained largely unchanged by foreign influence (British government and Christian Missionaries), and traditional religious beliefs were still held by the majority of the Lakher population. The Lakher’s supreme high god is known as Khazangpa, who is believed to have created the world and holds control over all its inhabitants. Other supernatural beings include zang (tutelary deities/guardian spirits), leurahripas (demons/evil spirits), and ancestral spirits. No official religious practitioners are present; the heads of households perform most rites and sacrifices. Mediums (zhazanghneipa) have special communication with spirits, and typically use this communication for medicinal purposes (such as finding out what sacrifices to prescribe a woman hoping to increase her fertility, for example). Ceremonies are present, and accompany most major life-cycle events. Also present is a yearly cycle of rites/feasts associated primarily with agriculture and the propitiation of supernatural beings. Zhazangpina is the most important sacrificial rite, which is performed by the head of a household in hopes of pleasing Zhazangpa, who will in turn bless the household with good health and prosperity. The Lakher’s religious beliefs are bound up with the functioning of society as a whole, so this entry considers the religious group to be coterminous with the society at large.
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