(Last Updated on : 23/04/2011)
The Paite Tribe resides in the north eastern and central part of Aizawl district of Mizoram. This group hails from the Tibeto-Burman family. Some of them are also inhabited in the middle part of district of Lunglei. Many of them also reside in other places like Churachandpur district of Manipur
and Chin State of Burma.
The Paites are considered as the old Kuki group. The word Paite also has got etymological significance. If one dissects Paite in to two terms, 'pai' stands for marching, while 'te' means people. As a whole, Paite means 'a group of people marching.' Besides Manipur the Paite tribes also inhabit Mizoram. Earlier they followed tribal religion but now maximum of them have converted to Christianity. Most of them were converted to this religion in the nineteenth century due to the intervention of British missionaries. They also worship their deity, Pathian. Just like many of the tribes of Paite tribal communities, they were known to have originated from the mountain caves, known as Khul. They speak Paite language which belongs to the Tibeto Bur man family of Kuki Chin group. They have certain divisions such as Dapzan Paite, Bukpi Paite, Lausan Paite, Thaute Patte and many others. The Dapzan Paite inhabits in the middle of Tiau and Run River. All these Paite bear resemblances with the Lushai people of Mizoram. They are advanced socially, politically, economically and educationally. In 1949 they set up the Paite National Council. The foremost village of the Paite is said to have been set up at Chimnuai, near Tiddim.
The Paites dresses are similar to the Lushai people. Women dress in a more colourful manner in comparison to the men. Women wear blouse or jacket and a colourful garment which is well decorated. They also tie a cloth round their waist to ankle like that of a Lushai lady but they do not put on huge and heavy ivory ear ring like them. Men preferably wear modern European dresses.
The Paites usually do not have guest houses. The youth of the village usually sleep in the verandah of their Chief. They also have village Headman whose office is hereditary. There is Village Council headed by some elder members.
Rice is the staple food of the Paites. They practice jhum (shifting) cultivation. The Paites vary from short to medium height and their skin colour differs from dark brown to light yellow.
Two types of marriages are prevalent among them viz. marriage by negotiation and marriage by choice. There is a peculiarity about their system of marriage. Among them a young Paite boy at first cohabits with his future wife for a time period of three years. During this tenure if no child is born to the couple or the wife does not conceive the couple gets separated. On the other hand if within that period of time the woman conceives a child the marriage is to be completed and on the birth of the baby bride price is to be paid to the father of the child. Inter-marriage is rarely practiced by them. According to another rule the son of a Chief is supposed to marry his first cousin. The eldest son generally inherits the house of his father and he is entrusted with the duty to look after his parents.
Dance, songs, tales, all linked to every day chores of the life of these Paite tribes, thus ennobling the tradition and culture of Paite community. Zangtalam is a popular dance style performed by this community. Both Paite males and females folks actively take part in it.
By nature the Paite tribes are timid, recluse people who are truly committed to whatever they do. Although the Paite tribes are mainly agriculturists, many of them have achieved remarkable fetes. Today some of them occupy respectable posts and position in the 'mainstream governance' of Indian subcontinent as well.