TODAY -

The 16th April: Foundation Day of Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak Phom

Budha Kamei *

A Scene from The Zeliangrongs :: Pix by Haobam Ronel (Director)
A Scene from The Zeliangrongs :: Pix by Haobam Ronel (Director)



The 16th April is a historic day for the Zeliangrong people, particularly the followers of Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak who inhabit in the three states of Assam, Manipur and Nagaland. It is on this day that twenty-one years ago i. e. in the year 1994 the Zeliangrong leaders of North East met at Imphal and with one voice, they founded the Zeliangrong Religious Council locally recognized as Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak Phom with the sole objective to protect and preserve the Zeliangrong indigenous religion.

Truly speaking, it fulfilled the dream of Haipou Jadonnang. The Zeliangrong, like many other communities of the world, too, follow a profound indigenous religion. This profound religious tradition is preserved and practiced through oral traditions by the ancient Zeliangrong community through the ages. This religion is deeply rooted in the cultural heritage of the people. It had no name and no founder.

But, it has been historically evolved through the ages by law givers, religious diviners and prophets. It had no common religious authority as it was managed by the Pei, village council as the religious authority. The Zeliangrong religion was christened as Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak (TRC) with Boudaan as symbol of the religion. It was named after Tingkao Ragwang, the Supreme God worshipped by the people since time immemorial.

Christianity (it posed serious threat to the existence of Zeliangrong religion right from the time of entry of missionary into the Zeliangrong country) and interference in their cultural life by some underground outfits in the year 1991 were the key factors for the formation of the Religious Council at the community level.

It is a well known fact that missionaries followed the colonial masters wherever they went; the only purpose of the missionary is to convert the native people and make civilized people; it is based on the notion that people who are not contacted with the west or Europe are uncultured and uncivilized people. In other words, people who don't have the ideas and values of the west are uncivilized and uncultured people.

They followed the concept of 'Animism,' which was propounded by E. B Tylor (1871) to mean the tribal religion. When this concept is applied, every religion has some beliefs in spiritual beings. Animism was a primordial stage of every tribal religion. Now, it has become a mistaken notion. Western observers including the anthropologists and sociologists describe that historically evolved religion is not animism.

However, this idea is still alive in the mind of the converted Christians of North East and they look upon the native religion or religion of their forefathers from that angle. To meet all these challenges, need is felt to have a platform at the community level. With this aim in view, the Zeliangrong leaders founded the TRCP. The TRC is now regulated and managed by the Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak Phom which has two important organs: the Executive Council and the Ecclesiastical Council. In short, the TRC has a solid foundation.

Tingkao Rgawnag Chapriak is not a new religion. However, some rational improvements are made in the religion following the footsteps of Haipou Jadonnang and Haipei Rani Gaidinliu. It is Haipou Jadonang, prophet of the 20th century who first introduced reformation in the Zeliangrong religion to meet the changing time and space; he abolished irrational taboos and gennas; introduced temple culture (for prayer cum religious congregation), and composed songs to sing in worship of Tingkao Ragwang and prayer hymns.

Unfortunately, he was hanged by the Colonial masters on 29th August 1931 on the wrong charge of murder before accomplishing his work. It was 64 years after his death; the dream of Haipou Jadonnang came into light on the day of 16th April 1994. Preservation of cultural, social, religious identity and solidarity of the Zeliangrongs through their worships and prayers, rites, rituals and ceremonies, festivals and attain the ultimate goal of the souls i. e to go to Tingkao Kaidai, the abode of Tingkao Ragwang is the main philosophy of Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak.

TRC is now a member of the United Religions Initiative, its headquarter San Francisco, USA. Thus, the believers of TRC celebrate the 16th April as Foundation Day of Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak Phom at its headquarter Chingmeirong, Imphal with songs, dances and prayer hymns every year.

Lastly, we, the followers of TRC show our great respect to the Zeliangrong leaders who took pain in the formation of TRCP. And they will always be remembered by the future generations of TRC.


* Budha Kamei wrote this article to The Sangai Express
This article was posted on April 17, 2015.


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