TODAY -

Tete-a-Tete with Maharaj Leisemba

Free Thinker *

 Maharaj Leisemba (center) during Mera Houchongba Festival on 13th October 2019
Maharaj Leisemba (center) during Mera Houchongba Festival on 13th October 2019 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam



Some scholars and intellectuals rightly said that today there is no Raja or Maharaja in this country; Constitutionally and legally all Rajas and Maharajas are no more. But in the hearts and minds of the people the notion of Raja or Maharaja still exists.That is why people still refer and revere the titular Kings as real time Rajas or Maharaja.

Of course now-a-days there is no de jure Maharajas but some de facto Maharajas still continue.

This is my first meeting with Maharaj Leisemba after he became the Member of the Upper House of Indian Parliament. Attired as a simple man and demeanouring like an ordinary citizen visited my place. This is Corona times, I begged his pardon for not introducing my family members. No airs, no ego ,no paraphernalia Leisemba carries simplicity in abundance.

The most touching part ( for me) is his habit of chewing 'kwa' (pan). He was chewing Rajnigandha as it is difficult to get 'Kom kwa' these days . I felt nostalgic because once upon a time I was also heavily consuming Rajnigandha and Tulsi triple zero. Chewing 'Kom Kwa' is really good for health and not only that it helps our local economy.

Some four years back Dr Krishna Nanda (practicing in London) came to my place with Maharaj. They are friends and perhaps they studied together. That time too Maharaj was behaving like a commoner. But I could see sadness and worries in his eyes.

He wanted to do something for the people but he was utterly helpless. His own survival was at stake; very difficult to manage social and family obligations. But he sincerely expressed his desire to contribute something for the people.

Those days he had some uncomfortable issues with the royal palace ( small but cute palace ). Because the then dispensation had a proposal to deal with 'ChongaBon' ( name of the royal palace ). That time Maharaj was very apprehensive about the plan and design of the then authorities. I believed there was some misunderstanding or miscommunication.

Then many started promoting him , not actually him in person but the Maharaj of Manipur. Highlighting the difficulties and hardships of a poor titular King performing numerous social ,cultural and traditional duties without privy purse, properties, princely pecuniary and royal authority, many try to draw the attention of the high and mighty.

Perhaps those who matter might have heard the pleadings. Soon later the Prime Minister shared the dias with Maharaj in an election campaign ; perhaps it was the beginning of a new paradigm.

It is evident that Wisemen have recognised that Maharaj is still a living institution even though he has no political or financial power . They can't simply ignore such a magnificent resource. They gradually bring the King into their fold. On their part this is a prudent move to recognise and respect an age old institution.

I am pleasantly surprised to hear that Maharaj has to perform nearly 70 rituals or ceremonies for the land and people in a year. These are purely cultural and historical obligations of being the Maharaj . In addition there are some prominent State functions where his presence is required and appreciated if not indispensable.

Maharaj Leisemba was told by his forefathers that three stone henges in Khongdei Maram are linked with their original lineage. It is amazing that the many ethnic groups claim that these stone henges belong to their clans.

Considering the claims and links with Maram stones henges we may proudly say that we belonged to the same area or originated from there. Archaeologically Maram stone henges are megalithic that means pre-historical.

Royalties have a very strong oral tradition within their families. He narrated another strange story of Jubaraj Tikendrajit . It may or may not be true but very interesting to hear from the horses' mouth.

Immediately after the Anglo-Manipuri war of 1891 the most flamboyant and powerful Jubaraj Tikendrajit had a plan to take political asylum in China.

One Moirang Tonjao who was familiar with the route to China was offered 3 thousand rupees to plan and lead the clandestine itinerary for the prince. Somehow the plan didn't materialize perhaps because of Tonjao's betrayal or surrender to the British.


* Tete-a-Tete with Maharaj Leisemba wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on August 13 2020 .



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