Coming to a new city can be daunting, but when you have an entire community to help out, things become easy. Such is the story of the Mizoram community in Mumbai.
Though the members are dispersed all over the city, the Mizoram community exists as a strongly-bonded unit. “It’s the church,” says James Lalremruata, former secretary, Mumbai Mizo Association (MMA). “Even in Mizoram our lives revolve around the church. Our church life is our little contribution to the cultural fabric of Mumbai.”
With a population of 300 to 500 in Mumbai, the community members know each other. When a new person comes to Mumbai, the community gets to know about it from relatives in Mizoram, or the newcomers look up the Mizo church in the city.
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MMA, which is the umbrella body of the Mizos in Mumbai, helps community members get settled in the city. It publishes a directory every year with all its members’ names listed and their contact information. It also informs them about the city’s lifestyle and provides them with a list of dos and don’ts. Under the MMA comes the Bombay Mizo Christian Fellowship (BMCF), which is essentially their church. The church conducts a service every Sunday at 2.30 pm at St Stephen’s Church in Bandra or St Thomas Cathedral in Fort. After the service, there is a high tea where the community interacts.
“In 1983, most of us worked in South Mumbai. Over time, the community felt the need of a church with service in their own language. All Saint’s Church in Malabar Hill was the place we all used to meet on Sunday Service untill last year. Now we go to St Stephen’s Church in Bandra,” adds Lalremruata.
“Be it a birthday or any other celebration, we all get together. If one of us faces a problem, we as a community try to help them out,” says another native Lalmalswama Pachuau.
Babie Lalremruati says, “As a woman, I find Mumbai very safe compared with other cities in India. I have never had any problem whatsoever in the 11 years I have lived here. People are so accepting. I feel my son has multiple opportunities to grow and flourish in a city like Mumbai.”
Though young women sometimes face an identity crisis, in Lalremruati’s opinion it is not region-related. “Coming from the hills, I feel the quality of life in Mumbai is compromised as everything is expensive and commuting takes so much time,” she says. She recalls when as a child she could go to church to learn guitar, but in Mumbai her son has to take tuition for it.