TODAY -

A Ningol's Chakouba Wish

By Eliza Devi Pebam *



In Manipuri, 'Ningol' means daughter and 'Chakouba' means invitation for a lunch in the mother's house. 'Ningol Chakouba' is a special day for the married daughters in Manipur, and ningol's kids are the happiest one at the idea of wearing new cloths and meeting bobok(grand-ma), pupu (grand-pa), mamma(uncle) and others.

On this special day, a grand feast of 'iinjang mathen-mathen' (various cuisines) is prepared in the honor of the daughter at her 'mapam' (mother's house). The invitation is formally done generally a week ahead by the brothers to pay a visit for the lunch.

On 'Ningol Chakouba' married daughters visit their 'mapam' (mother's house) wearing their finest and bring fruits and sweets for the family. 'Kabok Khoidum', 'Rasogullas',' Samosa', 'Kachoari', 'Sev Bhujia' are some of the special snacks that ningols gets it for the family.

And along with the other fruits, coconut is a must. Daughters have lunch along with all the family members. The lunch session is usually long as it is always accompanied with chitchat. Daughters are presented gifts by the parents and brothers.

While receiving the gifts from the brothers, younger ones are blessed by elder ones for well being and prosperity in life. And at the end of the day everyone bid goodbye to the happy ningol who is made special on this occasion.

For family having many married ningols, a grand feast prepared by a 'bamon' (the cook) is arranged and everyone have the lunch together and it's again almost like a 'mapam chakouba' (marriage reception).

Get-together is a good idea, meeting so many relatives at a time, in a common feast of the occasion but I wish the feast in my honor on this special occasion is prepared in our same old kitchen where I had enjoyed having food together with emma, baba, dada, nanao, boynao before my marriage, It will give me a great feeling to experience again all those old moments to help my mother and sister in cooking the food, cutting the vegetables at the same time chatting, laughing and giggling together for petty reasons.

'Sareng', one of the expensive fish is the favourite of the day for many ningols. 'Rohu' again another type of fresh water fish is also enjoyed by many as fried item or curry. 'Catla' and 'Grass Carp' too is prepared in curry form.

An 'Iromba' item is a must. For a large number of people, 'laphu Iromba'(Bananna Stem preparation) is mostly opted and easy to prepare and is a tasty recipe. 'Agouba' a mixed fried item of potatoes and fish pieces also is a must.

Among all the fishes, preparing 'Sareng' fish is not that easy, as the masala has to be proportionate in all respect and one has to be very careful while putting the salt. There are experts to prepare this fish but if one thinks of preparing it, they have to be really focused on the ingredients; otherwise all the charm of the special item as 'Sareng thongba' will go off.

As for me, I wish, I enjoy some of my mother's preparation like

  • 'chagempomba' (rice, greens & fermented soyabean preparation),
  • 'pan thongba' (Arbi curry with dried fish),
  • 'nakuppi thongba' (a variety of herb curry with lots of green chillies),
  • 'kanglayen-paknam' (stuffed mushroom in besan),
  • 'magan-usoy ooty' (dry pea with a variety of bamboo shoots), and
  • 'yongchak-red potato' iromba'(a kind of bharta),
  • 'soibum thongba'(fermented bamboo shoots curry) ....
  • the list is endless!!!
Then after food, I would like to sit with dada, nanao, baba, emma and have chitchat. I would also like to observe emma's vegetable gardening which I had never paid attention before marriage but has now become one of my interest during the leisure hours at home. I would like to learn the techniques of growing them so that I can plant the same in my garden.

I remembered my first 'Ningol Chakouba' celebration in Bangalore where I'm residing. I had celebrated with my younger brother and that day I was really very happy and satisfied of the way we celebrated the occasion.

I'm lucky that my younger brother too is residing here on whose company I don't feel very homesick and doesn't deprive me of all our Manipuri festivals as we celebrate it all together like 'Cheiraoba', 'Ningol Chakouba', meitei's way of celebrating the 'Diwali' specially decorating the 'chengfu'(the rice pot) which we worship as the goddess Lakshmi everyday etc.

Being brought up in a traditional family, I'm quite aware of dos and don'ts of most of the festivals and so I am able to celebrate it even in a different city. But, we miss the festivity environment.

The way it would have been in Imphal, my hometown, on 'Ningol Chakouba' people doing great shopping for the festival, melas, crowded fish stalls in 'Emma market', greens vegetable markets, old ladies with full energy selling the multicolor 'phaneks' (our traditional dress), the excitement in people buying gifts for the daughters, local TV channels with special programmes on 'Ningol Chakouba' all those moments enhance the happiness while celebrating the festival.

My parents have already given me the Chakouba's gift recently in advance when they paid a visit to Bangalore. Most of the gifts are handloom and handicrafts products of Manipur and it's a very valuable gift for me. I'm glad that I can decorate my house with it and beautify my house with skilful work of my people.

Even I got the Chakouba's gift from my two brothers. Well for me, the greatest gift was to see my parents in good health and condition. In fact, I will not be able to enjoy our traditional way of celebrating the 'Ningol Chakouba' this year as I have wish.

Staying far from my native place and working in an IT firm, I have to spend this special day too in the office and also because my younger brother is away for a business tour.

I'm not a professional writer, it's just that I'm missing the festival a lot and that's why I'm jotting it down on this piece of paper to share you my experiences of this auspicious occasion of love and bonding with family members and wish all the ningol's a very happy 'Ningol Chakouba'.

Related Article/Galleries on Ningol Chakkouba:




* Eliza Devi Pebam, based in Bangalore, writes for the first time to e-pao.net . This article was webcasted on Octotber 30th, 2008 on the eve of Ningol Chakkouba 2008.

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