TODAY -

Talented artisan still crafting 'sacred' tools despite authority's neglect
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 18 2020: Certain sacred tools and items like Chong, Pe, Satra and Thakan etc are utilised in performing rituals at Umang Lai Haraoba, Shri Shri Govindaji and also during religious ceremonies at numerous households since time immemorial, and all the items have become part of the State's cultural heritage now.

One of the skilled artisans of the State who crafts and creates such tools and materials, Phurailatpam Premananda Sharma (42) has been neglected when it comes to the State Government's Start Up programme.



Skilled artisans of the State , Phurailatpam Premananda Sharma
Skilled artisans of the State , Phurailatpam Premananda Sharma


Speaking to The Sangai Express, Premananda, who was conferred the title Chong-sabam by titular king Leishemba Sanajaoba, said that Chongsabam Craft Home has been providing all the necessary tools required for religious ceremonies and rituals.

Items like Chong, Pe, Satra and Thakan are necessary and have been utilised during Umang Lai Haraoba, rituals at Shri Shri Govindaji and while performing religious ceremonies, since time immemorial, he said.

Maintaining that these items are also sold to other countries like Thailand, Myanmar, Bali, Bangladesh etc, he continued that the items, which have a close knit relation with the culture and heritage of the State, represent Manipur to the rest of the world.

Following the launching of the Start Up programme by the State Government, which aims talented youths and entrepreneurs, Premananda also applied for the programme in February last year.

The officials concerned took around 10 minutes to listen to Premananda when he pitched his idea, which was unusual as others were allowed only three minutes per presentation.

However, he was not included in the selected list, Premananda said while lamenting that the State Government has neglected a person who is dedicating his life, to preserve such sacred tools.

Narrating his life story to The Sangai Express, Premananda Sharma maintained that he tried his hands on art through clay statues/sculptures when he was a child.

After finishing 10th exam, he took part in make-up training, he said.

Not satisfied with his thirst for knowledge, he then learned mask making and then went to study sculpting from his teacher Amusana in Khongman, Premananda added.

He then followed his teacher to repair temples at different locations and he subsequently took part in creating/crafting different famous structures like Nupi Lan statues, Kangla Sha, Tamphasana's statue at TG Higher Secondary School, Ghanapriya's statue at GP Womens' College etc.

Premananda then started learning how to make Chong, Pe from another teacher, Kesho in Singjamei Okram Leikai.

He said that he took part in the Khajuraho Festival 2017-18 in Madhya Pradesh where he exhibited Chong, Pe, Satra and Thakan.

Moreover, he has successfully provided more than 15,000 of the items to Umang Lai Haraobung and to other countries like Thailand, Bali, Myanmar, Bangladesh.

One Chong costs Rs 1850 and a Pe costs Rs 2600 for bigger one while the smaller ones cost Rs 2200, he said.

The rate of seven layered Satra is Rs 1000 while five layered ones cost Rs 700 and three layered ones cost Rs 400.The price of Thakan starts from Rs 150.Different varieties of bamboo including Longnga, Saneibi, Khok are used as materials for making these items, he said while adding that trees/bomboos grown in Andro, Phayeng, Lairenkabi, Leimaram, Singda dam, Sekmai and Imphal are transported to the making site.

Only 100-150 bomboo trees are carried in one truck load.

He purchases the bamboo at the rate of Rs 90 per stalk/trunk, which normally costs Rs 140 in the market, he said.

He was conferred the title of Chongsabam by titular king Leishemba Sanajaoba on October 21, 2007 while the Directorate of Commerce and Industries, GoM also gave him the Outstanding Craftsperson Award 2009-2010 .

Premananda lamented that he applied for a loan amounting to Rs 4 lakh through his Chongsabam Craft Home to the PMEGP scheme, for which he has not received any response till date.


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