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The taste of SINGJU: Manipuri traditional snack that bridge love bondage between new lovers of yesteryears

My uncle Ningthoujam Binoybhusan (who had left us all for heavenly abode), was a man of typical character who always wanted everyone to be happy with his words of humours, took me to meet his girl friend. That time I may be just around 6 or 7 years old but rare incidents or events happened during childhood still continue to live in my memories. From the place where I was staying, Singjamei Chingamakha is just around 1o minutes cycle ride. Renowned Theatre director cum artist Ghanashyam Kshetri (late) was his best friend those days and they together would roam most time to find their life partner. I was like a doll to them and they would prefer taking me to their bicycle most time. My aunty whom he made his life partner stayed at a place in Singjamei along with her father. The two of them communicate with just by looking at each other and myself being a small kid don’t have anyproblem going near to my uncle’s girlfriend. I recalled this because I still remember that it was Singju that connect them. One day my aunty would called me and handed me a well pack Singju  for my uncle and his friend and another day my uncle would asked me to pass a well packed Singju bought from my Leikai. Keishamthong Elangbam Leikai here in Imphal, the place where my father shifted and settled, was once known for the best SINGJU. Originally family is from a far flung Village , around 60 km but took around 4 hours to reach due to dilapidated road condition. The situation however is different today, some of my brothers used to attend office here in Imphal by staying at my village (Kakching Khunou).  
It’s nearly forty years and the trend of Singju being the bridge of love bond between boys and girls are history now. Youths of today may not know the significance of SINGJU between relationships of boys and girls , even during my teenage I had never share Singju with my beloved wife when we date before getting married.
 Well, R.K. Shyamsunder, a retired govt. employee, now around 80 years old, narrated on how the old lady at Kwakeithel Heinoukhongnembi prepared Singju, on his first date with Jashumati, his wife.
“Those days, there were no restaurants, dating with girl friends were done at the side of small “Lukmai” (small vendor run by old ladies) and Singju is the best item we enjoyed most”, Shyamsunder said recalling his youth days.
Like Shyamsunder, Singju is associated to the love life of almost all boys and girls of his age. These days Singju has been replaced by chicken chowmen, momo, fried rice etc etc. which are not our indigenous food.
Singju is a typical traditional snacks or dish. It is a mix-vegetable salad type items and in still popular among the people of the state, if not an item anymore for dating between boys and girls.
The taste of Singju from locality to locality is different. There were times, when youths roamed from place to place to taste the different variety of Singju.
Days are gone and not many Lukmai run by old ladies are seen, as it has been replaced by mushrooming Restaurants where boys and girls can date. Because of the dying culture, youths of today may not be aware of the kind of Singju varieties.
In December 2017 an organisation called “Singju Yokhat Lup” formed by a group of likeminded youths which works for promotion of this Manipuri Traditional food item organizing a unique festival called “Singju Festival” at Lamdeng Makha Leikai ground in Lamshang Assembly constituency.
In this 12 days festival, the organizing committee is inviting all special ‘Singju’ makers sure that any visitor can experience the taste of varieties of ‘Singju’.
Convenor of the Festival committee, Rakesh Naorem deserves all credit for his effort to remind today’s generation that for some of us our parent secret meeting was all possible by Singju.

Rinku Khumukcham

Rinku Khumukcham, Editor of Imphal Times has more than 15+ 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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