Sunday, August 30, 2015

Vaihlenhlo - Colonial plant in Mizoram (Lushai hills)


Vaihlenhlo plant in Mizoram, India
Pu Buanga dictionary define: Vai-hlen-hlo, n. the name of a plant - the Kuki weed. (Also vai-len-hlo). This plant called Vaihlenhlo or Vailenhlo is much to be find in all over Mizoram. It is traditionally said that this plant is known only after the coming of British in the then Lushai Hills presently Mizoram state in India. When i came across many writings/literatures about the Colonial discourse and its impact in Mizoram (Lushai hills) this plant is hardly cover in their contents. I am not even sure whether this plant is introduced or spread in Mizoram during the Vailen vawi 1-na [First Lushai expedition (1871-72)] or Vailen vawi 2-na [Second one called Chin Lushai expedition (1889-90)], but for sure this plant was known to the Mizo only after the arrival of Colonial forces in Lushai hills.
Vaihlenhlo/vailenhlo plant in Mizoram, India

Vaihlenhlo/Vailenhlo literal meaning is a plant that came along with the vai (British or any other Indian forces). It has a meaningful term in Mizo tawng (langauge). The plant is usually find in the weeding area in agricultural site and even in settlement areas like village outskirt etc. I have little knowledge about this plant but what I have in my mind is that this plant gives a memory of the existence of British forces in our land. It may also be mark the as the introduction of new plant in Mizoram. If this plant is properly investigated about its existence it will help in the study of  environmental history or botanical history of Mizoram. I can still recollected that when I was a little kid my older generation people often mentioned this plant that came along when the vais (colonial armies) came to invade us during the colonial period. In my humble opinion this plant hardly occupies a place in any of the colonial writings in Mizoram but if it is included this may mark a new addition in the discourse.  In Mizo saying we have "A zual zawpui vaihlenhlo" it may be translated as "there are more complicated problems to resolve." The reason behind this saying may be that when we Mizo doing weeding work in our cultivation site the vaihlenhlo plant is more often grow again even when it were weeded down, that is why when the more complicated things happened in life it is often compare with the much spreading up of vaihlenhlo that needed to be weed out.
Vaihlenhlo/vailenhlo plant in Mizoram, India

In Mizoram we have another plant but this is not much related to colonial discourse but even this plant is also known as foreign plant. It is called Japan hlo (Its literal meaning is Japan plant). Our local older generation people also tell us this plant is available in Mizoram only after the coming of Japanese army in Mizoram during the Second World War (1939-45). That is what its name also given after the Japan. I do not know whether it is true or false but our grant parents told us that this plant - Japan hlo was used by Japanese armies to cover their camps and trenches during that war. Based on our Mizo oral tradition this plant is also known as foreign plant that existed only after the Second  Word War. It has many usages like for herbal or medicinal plant, I have such experienced when we were in little kid if we have minor injuries we often used Japan hlo as a first aid medicine. Japan hlo is also widely used as fodder for piggery. 
Japan hlo plant in Mizoram, India. (Medicinal plant)
Japan hlo plant in Mizoram, India. (Medicinal plant)

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