The North-Eastern states in India have always remained a relatively unknown territory for the rest of the country.
Mizoram, the southernmost North-Eastern state sharing borders with Bangladesh and Myanmar, is one of them. The name is derived for the natives living there called the ‘Mizos’ and Ram meaning land; thus the name ‘Land of the Mizos’.
Inside the deep jungles of Mizoram, just two to three hours from the state capital Aizawl, the local Mizo community practices a unique tradition: ‘nghah loh dawr’ or shops without shopkeepers.
These unmanned shops are structures built from bamboo. Along the highway of Seling, there are many shops without shopkeepers, not just offering items to sell but also a very valuable lesson to anyone willing to learn.
Known as ‘Nghah Loh Dawr culture,’ the tradition is all about opening shops but without the presence of the shopkeepers. They leave the rest to customers’ faith and honesty.
“These shops work on the principle of trust” as people can take whatever they want and keep money in the box. Mizoram residents have found a way to adapt to the changing times and its inspiring to see honesty, hospitality, and trust.
Every morning, shop owners who are also farmers bring their harvest including leafy greens, carrots, cabbage, onions, and freshly-picked fruits such as watermelons, pineapples, lime, lemons, and papayas to display them on bamboo racks. Farmers use small name boards to display the price of each time. Sometimes they write the price in charcoal on each item. A wooden box or a plastic jar is placed on the table.
Customers grab whatever they require and put the money into the ‘pawisa bawm’. If they require changes, the customers simply pick up the change from the same ‘pawisa bawm’. At the end of the day, owners come back and collect the money and the remaining items.
Their hospitality and sincere approach towards life even have a Mizo term for it– tangihanga which means ‘always being kind, hospitable, unselfish, and helpful to others.’
P.S.: Starting today, I am starting a new series called ‘Amazing India’. There are so many beautiful facets to our country. I want to highlight that in this series.