Manipur’s traditions is the product of its civilization

Manipur’s traditions is the product of its civilization

Written By: / Editorial / Tuesday, 23 August 2022 17:23

Understanding the way of life, culture, traditions and religion leaving aside the economic conditions and society’s existence is perhaps one important subject that one is desirous of understanding that society. So it is important to let my readers understand the nature of the Manipuri society before going to the core issues.
As found in some of the writings of social scientists - the arrival of Hinduism during the reign of Miedingu Pamheiba (1709–1748) had brought tremendous change in the religious practices of Manipur. With the adoption of this new religion, human values of the Meitei people have become much worthy. From birth till death there are various stages at which necessary rituals are performed. Poor or rich in the Manipuri society makes no difference this rituals are performed with religious and traditional fervor. If any scholars or social scientist want to see living culture of a specific community, there is no doubt in saying that Meitei community could be best suit.
The adoption of Hinduism by the Meitei people may have been due to political necessities of the time. The political scenario of that time - that is during the reigns of Meidingu Charairongba (1697-1709), Meidingu Pamheiba (1709-1748) and Meidingu Chingthangkhomba or Bhagyachandra (1749-1798) was described by historians as – at the most critical junctures. And it was also during the reign of these three successors that the social life of Meitei people was transformed to a momentous change.
They played very significant roles in the history of Kangleipak. After the death of Paikhomba, his nephew Charairongba, the son of his younger brother Tonsenngamba, ascended the throne in 1697. His reign was a transition period from traditional Meetei social situation to a Hindu Meetei Society. He constructed several temples for Meitei deities like Panthoibi, Sanamahi and Hindu deities after his espousal with Vaishnavism. The relation with Burma was deteriorated and more strengthened with India after conversion into Vaishnavism.
The advancement in technology and the fast growing standard of lifestyle under the influence of western culture cannot really give any impact to the ritual practice of the Manipuri people. Perhaps it is because of this religious practice that Manipur lady still remain as a symbol of Manipur’s identity.
A Meitei Hindu performs Swasti puja of a child on the fifth day after its birth. Unlike the Hindus of other states of India, when a Meitei Hindu performed the Swasti puja it was associated with the traditional “Ipan Thaba” which was followed before the coming of Veisnavite culture. The beauty of Swasti puja is the gathering of friend and relatives of the family coming to give blessing to the new family members.
Later, after the child is three month old another ritual called “Chakumba” is performed. Chakumba is another ritual which cannot be skipped as it is a ritual at which the new member of family can start taking rice.
When the new member enters 3 or 5 years old, another ritual called “Nahutpa” is performed. This ritual signifies that the child has grown up enough to join with his friend and other member of the society to learn his or her surroundings.
The above mentioned rituals are regarded as essential rituals to be performed for both boy and girl child. Another additional ritual which is accepted necessary for a boy is “Lukun Thangba” ritual. Here the boy have to tonsure his head and performed some rituals. This ritual is often performed when the boy is around 18 to 20 years or more. This ritual signifies that the boy is permitted to get married and start a new life.
Marriage is one important event of every human being. As for the Meitei veishnavite it is conducted in big way with cultural fervor. Five days after the marriage there is again Ningol Chakouba – at which the family of the bride called both the bridegroom and their relatives and friend to a grand feast. In both the event all Meitei have to wear the traditional white Pheijom and Pumyat for the male and traditional clothes for the lady.
Death is one of the most important events of the Meitei people. The Meitei mourn the death for 13 days by performing rituals. First the dead body will be burnt and pray to the God. Later, every afternoon the family and the elders of the locality will gathered and listen verses from the Gita by an expert priest till the Sardha is performed on the 12th day after the death. On the fifth day of the death there is also a ritual called ASHTI.
The death soul is then remembered by offering feast to the elders every month for one year. And then “Phiroi” a ritual on the completion of one year was performed. This is the last rituals of a Meitei veishnavite.
This is unique traditions hardly known by any Hindu of any other places in the world including those in the Mainland India.

About the Author

Rinku Khumukcham

Rinku Khumukcham

Rinku Khumukcham, Editor of Imphal Times has more than 25+ years in the field of Journalism. A seasoned editor, was a former editor of ISTV News. He resides in Keishamthong Elangbam Leikai, with his wife and parents. Rinku can be contacted at [email protected] 

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