In the breathtakingly beautiful and enchanting city of Aizawl, the capital of the state of Mizoram, the locals add more colour and charm to the landscape with their joie de vivre even through their simple and at times rustic ways. The city bustles with liveliness and an energy that can’t be missed. Music lovers would immediately take note of it. Off late the countryside has become more events-oriented with music festivals and a tilt towards arts. Their vibrant culture appeals to visitors at the very onset. The different Mizo communities are connected by a rich history steeped in legends and folklore alike.

Life in Aizawl revolves around the church starting with prayer services from the crack of dawn. Every neighbourhood in the city has a church at the centre of it, and that is what really brings the whole community together with nearly everyone participating in the events. The whole week has various church activities with it culminating on Sunday with three church services and Sunday school. The ‘Children Sunday School’ committee organizes very productive programmes for the kids every year like food fests, costume parades, showing movies through projectors and story-telling. Almost every Sunday, there is a special programme for the kids including short sermons on skill development etc.

Junior Sunday is held only once a year and the children are divided based on their age groups. So there are the Beginners, Primary, Junior, Intermediate, Sacrament and Senior Departments. Once you cross 18, the kids move into the Adult Department.

Mary Lalremsangi, with a Masters in Psychology and a trained counsellor and trainer at the Civil Hospital, Aizawl, is also a Junior Sunday school teacher. She was also ‘Student Of The Year’ in her University so it comes as no surprise that she is very dedicated to the children’s cause. In 2012, she was put in charge of the Junior Sunday musical skit, which fell on 22nd July. She is a firm believer that through music and words she can manage to enhance the quality of life as well as the experience to all those who participate. The first skit she composed was shown at the Church Revival Centenary Hall or RC Hall and lasted just short of 9 minutes. With great pains, she recorded the children’s voices first and the musical skit was about how we are all creations of God...and that we can make a difference by being kind to God’s Creations.

This is the first time that Mary wrote a skit and the plot revolved around God and Mother Earth. The aim was to show that individually we are all responsible for taking care of what is around us and each of us must make a positive difference with our acts. Mary provided most of these costumes and some were lent by kind people as she didn’t want the kids or their parents to spend money on costumes. They children usually practiced at Mary’s house where she pampered them with snacks and munchies to keep their energy levels going.

In 2013, Mary managed and composed a dance event, with all the steps choreographed by her. The dance represented the fact that we may all be different but in the eyes of our creator, we are all one. Practice usually took place after the children came home from school, rested, and had their meal. The times spent together involved much laughter and gaiety and even though at times Mary’s voice would hurt (from all the shouting!) and she would be exhausted she never shirked from her duties. All Mary’s skits are original and not off the net. She likes originality in every sphere. There is much dancing and celebration after the conclusion of events.

Mary’s latest skit this year was put up as part of a variety programme for the department competition and was about children following the right path in life. It involved children between nine to eleven years. The aim was to show that if children studied hard and followed the words and wisdom of their teachers and elders they would be successful down the line. The kids were shown in costumes depicting the careers of IAS, Engineers, Scientists, Doctors, Footballers, Pastors, etc. each grateful for following the correct path and utilising their success and knowledge for serving their fellow human beings and God. The children, who didn’t study, regretted it years later as they ended up useless and without goals. Two barren and one bearing fruits depicted the whole theme of the play including children dancing with perfectly choreographed steps.

Mary is usually assisted by Sangpuii Fanai who is currently doing her B.Ed. and Zothanzuala who is a Manager in a gas agency but usually helps out with the recording and music as he has great interest in this field. Zothanzuala is extremely talented and spins magic into the music. K. Laldinpuia and Zoliana are Mary’s support system. Grace Lallawmzualli, the department leader always large-hearted, sponsors with her own money, refreshments for the kids and Mary’s mother H. Lalkhumi, who is the leader of the Beginner’s department, is always ready to help and stitches the dresses free of cost. There is so much to learn and imbibe just watching the whole show unfold. It is pertinent for me to mention here that from time to time Mary also conducts life skills development training for children of varied age groups in efforts to educate the children more. The kids also use Mary as a sounding base and confidante.

The beautiful part of all this is that the children come from different backgrounds but it doesn’t matter at all here as everyone is equal. The beauty of Mizoram is that there is no bias and no discrimination. There is Aida, who is 9, whose Mother is a teacher and father an Assistant Professor. Lallianthangi, again aged nine is the daughter of a Betel nut washer and cutter. Kiki’s mother is a housewife and father a driver. Grace Remlalruati who is 11 is the daughter of a retired Wing Commander. Hannah and Stephen are siblings and their mother is the District Education Officer while their father is in construction. Lalruatdiki’s mother is an engineer and father a dentist. Lalruatpuia, again nine, is a soldier’s son and his mother is a homemaker. The importance here is that all kids, irrespective of their backgrounds must be given an equal chance to be educated. Mary wants to push their potentials in order to make them confident, smart and wise. Her biggest fear is of them taking the wrong path due to lack of guidance and ignorance. The whole scope behind organising a well-planned Junior Sunday is just that and the mission to accomplishment. This year's performance was replete with striking and exciting performers and bonds of personal friendships forged between the teacher and student. Influence of the cultures and traditions encourages the idea of reinforcing our country as a bridge between different and contrasting cultures (unity in diversity) while helping in strengthening the building of a local identity. It was truly an unforgettable experience.

Parents of the talented children are extremely grateful to Mary for all that she does. They are very supportive and helpful. They send her thank you notes and texts appreciating her hard work. They feel that these activities have generated not only excitement for the kids but also taught them incredibly important lessons. Mary awakens in them the freedom to explore and be passionate. Kids learn to interact with each other, feel comfortable and blossom during the course of their activities. For Mary, it is very rewarding to see them with their lil’ bursts of creativity. “There is so much we can and shall achieve by saying it through the interplay of music and words. We're well on the right track and will make sure to move much further ahead with the right balance,” says Mary excitedly. She insists that there is so much to learn from the children too as they are free-spirited with an unmatched zest for adventure. Mary is now busy preparing for this year’s Junior Sunday that will take place in November.

Recently, their Church, Kuilkawn Presbyterian Church, completed 100 years and the centenary celebrations involved much celebration including feasts, sports, and church activities. What I truly feel is that the people of Mizoram are friendly, passionate, dedicated, and faithful in all that they do. It’s been very easy for me to fall in love with the Mizo culture.