By The Kukiforum
The Aimols are one of the Khul origin Kuki tribes. They lived in close proximity with the Chothe, Purum and Maring. Their social structure, culture, customs and life style is very similar to that of the Chothe, another Kuki tribe. Like their other Kuki brethren, the Aimols have a custom of blowing Goshem (a typical Kuki musical instrument made of bamboo pipes).
The Aimols are mostly distributed in Unapal, Satu, Kumei, Chingnunghut, Aimol Tampak, Khodamphai, Ngarong Aimol, Chandonpokpi, Soibong (Khudengthabi) and Kha-Aimol, Luichungbum village. They participated in the two Kuki war of independence 1917-1919 & 1942-1945 to defend their land from the British imperialists.
The distribution pattern of the Aimols’ settlement shows that the tribe does not occupy a well-defined territory and that they have shifted their settlement sites from place to place in the past. Linguistically, they are classified amongst the old Kuki branch of Kuki section, Burma Division of Sino-Tibetan Language.
Etymologically, the name Aimol corresponds to a past habit of the people and the word is derived from a word, which means ‘roots’. ‘Ai’ is a small ginger like plant, which is found in wild abundance on the spur of hill ‘Mol’. This place is belived to be somewhere in the present Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram (India). The oral tradition (unwritten history) traced the Aimol ethno genesis to an uncertain cave at Khweps from which the people had been believed to have emerged from under the Earth. As they came out of the cave, a tiger blocked their way despite many attempts.
Two clever persons Korthangpu and Korthangpi weaved a cloth named Laijtang having the same color as the tiger. Taking help of appearance of the woven cloth, Korthangpu convinced the tiger that they were of the same kind and proposed friendship. The Tiger did neither killed nor eat him. The Tiger was then killed with spear after being tamed. From there, passing many places of Tripura, they went to Burma where the advancement was checked by Kabaowa Shans. Shakespear in Lushai Kuki Clans; 1912, 149, marked the appearance of the Aimol in Manipur in 1723.
Concerning the dress and ornaments, the Aimols mention Shekili, Hulike Chu, Laijiak, Punthal, Shorte, Panchai, Shuihboh, Puante, Puandum for males, while that of the females are Khamtang, Kuwapaam, Shenchil, Aitang, Reinuam, Khongkhihmor and Saipikhup.
The traditional houses of the Aimols are basically made of wood, bamboo and mud and used thatch as roofing material. Around the dwelling house, one will notice satellite sheds generally used as granary storehouse, cattle shed, and pig stall. The direction of houses is always towards the east, facing the rising sun. Now, the modern Aimol would prefer using modern factory products as house building materials.
The Aimol families are largely small to medium in size. The families are by composition of nuclear type comprising of parents and children. Men marry commonly in age group of 22-27 while girls mostly marry between 16-21 years of age. Their main occupation is agriculture and allied activities including domestication of cattle, pig and fowl. Cultivation of paddy is carried out by both sexes. Weaving and livestock rearing gives a good income to the family.
In this patriarchal and patronymic feature society; monogamy is common form of marriage. After marriage, the young couple lives at the residence of the parents of the boy. The tribe is divided into 5 clans which are further sub-divided into sub-clans. The clans are:
1. Chongom (with 3 sub-clans)
2. Laita (3 sub-clans)
3. Lanu (4 sub-clans)
4. Chaithu (no sub-clan) and
5. Chongthu (2 sub-clans)
The Aimol clans possess totems of their own which is associated with their ancestry. They are regarded and prayed as the gods of the clans. For instance, the god of Chongom is called Jakapsharipanineng. It is believed to be a snake like form and dwells in water. A goat or a hen is sacrificed at the time of worship. The clans are exogamous and so also the sub clans. That is, a person should find his or her spouse in other clans or sub-clans than his or her clan. However, nowadays, intermarriage among sub-clans of a clan is becoming frequent with or even without a fine.
The indigenous mode of political organization of a village centers on the council known as Pasakaret, subordinated by another association. Parakaret consists of eight councilors of which the head is Tamsakoi. The subordinate council i.e. Thoukanai also consists of the same number of post. The Tamsakoi is a hereditary post. For other posts, recruitment is on the line of promotion.
Tamsakoi remains the exclusive right for the eldest Chongom clan member. Trial is conducted after lodging a complaint with a fee. It was one ‘bel’ of ‘yu’ (a jar of wine). Punishment is given by the court and may include imposition of fine, confiscation of belongings and ex-communication. For bringing forth justice, they employ oath and ordeal.
The Aimols of present generation have adopted Christianity as their religion. It was introduced to them only some twenty-seven (27) years ago. Prior to this new religion, they were animistic and believed in many deities and spirits. They believed in the existence of the village deity (Kho-Pathian) and the house deity (In-Pathian).
They worshipped Sailing and Bonglei, protector of village; Chahou, Pathian of agriculture and paddy; Miso for prosperity and peace. Arkun, Pathian of the goddess of Human fertility is worshipped particularly by pregnant women. To wane off diseases and for curing illness, Randoi and Song Kot was worshipped with rites. Likewise, success or failure in war and hunting is ascribed to the action of Chuwan Pathian.