Introducing the Mizoram Synod Choir

I will try to tell the story of how people I have never heard of, who live in a place I have never heard of, and speak a language I have never heard of – have used a photograph I took for the cover art of their musical album.

[singlepic id=260 w=525 h=257 float=center]

At the end of 2001 I went to India and spent about six months backpacking. One photo I took was of a street beggar. I shot it in a small village called Hampi in the state of Karnataka in the southern part of the Indian subcontinent. I actually took half a dozen shots of the same man, and what I particularly liked about this one is the enigmatic face, glistening with sweat. I felt it conveyed the true meaning of being that person.

[singlepic id=259 w=300 h=456 float=right]Back then I wasn’t blogging yet, but I did manage to develop, print, scan and email that photo to folks at home. Fast forward to 2007 when I started blogging and one of the first things I did was retroactively post my travelling correspondence, including this one.

Now we get to two days ago, when I noticed quite a bit of traffic coming to my website from this forum post. I could not understand what language the site was using, but from the bits in English I could decipher the post was discussing the similarity between the cover art of an album and that of Assassin’s Creed, a video game – both featured a hooded man. A user by the name of Angaiha was able to track down the source for the man in the cover art: Yes, it was my photograph.

Upon further investigation it turns out that the cover art was for a choir named Synod Choir for their video CD titled Pathian Hmel which apparently will set you back a hundred Indian Rupees (a little more than two bucks). Oh, yes, it turns out that this musical ensemble comes from the Indian state of Mizoram which I have never heard of, inhabited by Mizo people who speak (and sing) in Mizo language and look nothing like the Indian people I have met travelling.

How do I know what Mizo people look like? Glad you asked, as it gives me the chance to direct your attention to the album’s eponymous song:
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jFJuaxppCM

It should be mentioned that everything I post on this blog falls under a Creative Commons license which allows for certain uses of it, but using any of the content for commercial purposes goes beyond that scope. Basically, there are legal ramification for the unauthorized usage of my photo, but I will not get into that at this time.

8 thoughts on “Introducing the Mizoram Synod Choir”

  1. Pathian hmel in english literally means face/image of God …may be the designer of the album cover saw the image of God in this picture of beggar!!God bless.

  2. let mw tell ou what is the meaning of “Pathian hmel, its mean that “Face of God”. I apologize you, but the Mizo people did not care a copyright act, all the software, video, etc., we would be thankful to you if you could forgive them

    From :
    Vanlalvanga
    Aizawl, Mizoram
    India

  3. Dear Shahar Golan, your picture was great and i think you are actually sympathetic to the backward people like beggar, poverty, deform persons, etc. As a Christianity in the State of Mizoram, the Mizo’s sympathetic to those types, we are almost similar in this case. May I request you please to come down to our state and taking a photograph and enjoy our natures and the peoples.
    Thank you.

    1. @McMawia:
      The next time I travel to India I will surely visit the great State of Mizoram.
      Thank you very much for the kind invitation.
      All the best to you and your people.

  4. ‘Pathian hmel’ means “The looks of God” / The form of God/The shape of God/The appearance of God/ etc
    The composer of this title might have in mind that God could be the beggar we’ve met or the crippled we’ve ignored…

  5. Hi Shahar, the photo in question is really well taken by you. I hope and pray that you will forgive the graphic designer for the mistake he made. Thanks for pointing out the mistake and not sending him an invoice right a way.

    Like McMawia said you are most welcome to visit our humble state. Seeing the quality of the photo, I believe you will find many amazing stuffs to capture on your camera in Mizoram.

  6. Dear Shahar,

    It may be interesting to mention that there are good number of people in Mizoram who consider themselves to be one of the lost tribes of Israel, specifically the tribes of Manashe and/or Ephraim. In fact, a good number of them have even migrated to the Holy Land for the same reason. The Mizo people have this particular inclination towards Israel which you can see for yourself when you come. There is a ‘Zion Street’, Canaan locality, Israel Point Bus stop, Solomon’s temple at Kidron Valley, Goshen, Bethlehem to name a few! I’m sure you will be excited to witness all these things.

    Regards
    Stephen L
    Aizawl, Mizoram

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