The bamboo belongs to the grass family, and because of its size is sometimes called tree grass or ‘elder brother of grass’. There are over a thousand species of bamboo, worldwide. One species found in India is Melocanna baccifera (Muli bamboo), which grows abundantly in Mizoram and other parts of the northeast.
This species of bamboo flowers once in 48 years or so. One would think people would look forward to this rare flowering. But they don’t. They dread it.
They consider the flowering as a bad omen. There’s a saying in Mizoram: “When the bamboo flowers, famine, death and destruction follow.”
Famine followed bamboo flowerings in 1862, 1881 and in 1911-12.