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Thangjing in the folklore of Koireng tribe of Manipur

Yangsorang Rongreisek *



As the traditional beliefs, customs and stories of a community, passed through the generations by word of mouth, the Koireng Tribe of Manipur also has its own folklore which sufficiently mentions Thangjing Hill situated to the west of Moirang in Bishnupur District of Manipur.

The Thangjing hill is so dear to the Koireng people of Manipur that they worshipped Ibudhou Thangching Koirel Lai, the Divine Ruler of ancient Moirang. But now it is simply Thangjing Lai. The All India Radio, Imphal used to transmit the song sung by the Koireng people revering Ibudhou Thangjing Koirel or also as Koren Lai in the 70s and early 80s.

Due to certain complexity, the AIR, Imphal has stopped transmitting the song. Koireng elders referred to Thangjing in their storytelling every time. It is from their telling that the Koirengs lived with prosperity at Thangjing and their population was also big. They came in contact with the people of Moirang. They fought against the Moirang king who was several times defeated by the Koirengs with the help of a sword with miraculous power.

Later on, the king by a stratagem stole away the magical sword and the Koirengs were thus defeated. The Moirang king gave curse to the Koirengs. And the Koirengs believed that due to this curse of the Moirang king, their population had decreased.

The original homeland of the Koirengs was known as Kolram in the East. Kol means East and Ram means Land. From Kolram they came to Semrojoul where they settled for some time. They left it and settled at Khomichum, Khuomilai, Khotatlu and Lungsut.

Then, the Koirengs settled down at Lungrel in Churachandpur. They further moved to Kailam. Most of their adventures remembered by the Koirengs were confined to South Manipur Hills. From Kailam, they migrated to Tuolcheng. Then to Mihoibung and Kholaipiel.

After settling down at Kholaipiel, they hurriedly moved to Erelon, then to Dumdoksuk. At Dumdoksuk the Koirengs were attacked by a migrating horde. They left the village and went to Thalkhangtang where they fought back against the enemies.

Thalkhangtang was their stronghold for some years. But being pushed by the stronger and more numerous neighbours, they left Thalkhangtang. After that, they shifted consecutively to Lingsielbung, Sielbu, Shamrai, Thuok-khuojoul, Ngaitebung and Tongkhuo. At Tongkhuo, the Koirengs fought against a stronger tribe who inflicted a very serious defeat on them. The Koirengs still remember the losses they suffered at Tongkhuo. They had to fight against unidentified enemies at Chiepi, and they migrated to Khapeibung and Mongkha.

Finally, they arrived at Thangjing Hill. The Koirengs faced all the onslaughts before they came to the Hill where they settled eight times and abandoned it eight times. Eventually, they left Thangching when a raging inferno which broke out from the ambers thrown over a pile of husks by an old lady called Chongbompi gutted the entire village. There were eight clans in the village, and each clan owned a set of a wooden drum (Musical instrument).

In the fire, eight sets of drum were burnt to ashes. In such a situation, the Koirengs left Thangjing. Then, they moved eastward to Laimanai where they lived with the Kabuis as their neighbours for more than a hundred years. Laimanai was their dispersal point. From there, they set off for different directions. Some clans went back to Kumbi Hill while another group proceeded towards Yongabung near Tongjei Maril.

There is a strong belief among the Koirengs that the Divine Ruler of Moirang was fond of a Koireng song called “YEIHITA” sung by the youths, away from homes to work in the fields and woodland around the village at Thangjing Hill. Whenever the song was sung, the Divine Ruler meticulously silenced every living creature like fowls and animals, and stopped even the blowing of wind to enable him to listen to the melody.

There is also a belief that Thangching Koirel Lai is the founder and protector of Moirang. Everything that happened in Moirang was his creation and his will. He was the royal deity of the kingdom of Moirang. But while an examination is made of the circumstances of his advent at Thangching Hill and Moirang as given in the chronicle, one is tempted to think that he was a historical king who was deified at a later stage and worshipped as the most important God of Moirang.

“According to Moirang Ningthourol Lambuba, Thangching Koirel Lai was described as the godly king, the progenitor of clans and lineages, founder of years, chief of the heavenly gods, the goal of human souls and the chief of western region, the vanquisher of the Tripuris, one who travelled in Bengal and Mayang country on horseback.

Thangching Koirel Lai married Koirel Leima. With regard to his origin, Thangching Koirel Lai came down from the heaven and lived at his abode at Thangching and later on settled at Ngangkha village. The chronicle further records that Thangching was the son of heavenly god “Soraren Awang Pakhang Yoirenba” who came in search of his mother Leimarel Ngangshabi and went on crying.

He was pacified when he was offered a flora called Leishang. He came to Thangching and settled at Khuyon and Ngangkha village. He was welcomed by Haomuba. The chronicle continues to state that after the creation of Ngangoi (Moirang) Soraren was invited to see the land and he was welcomed by his son Khori Phaba.

This episode was definitely an interpolation added later on to indicate that Moirang was colonised by the migrants from the north Imphal valley living around Koubru Hills. The story of Thangching Koirel Lai appears to be a reminiscence of an actual happening in Moirang (Prof.Gangmumei Kamei, Page 173-4 History of Manipur, Vol- One)”.

Another modern proof that the Koirengs had once settled at Thangching Hill is supported by Colonial Writer B.C.Allen in his book on Manipur Population (1901 Census). In Koireng. Thang means South and Ching means Hill. Thus, “other minor tribes” are the Kom and Koireng who occupy the hills, which overhang the valley near Moirang.

Perhaps, the British writer did not know the name of the hill and he never bothered to know it either. This is what has been called the pride of the Koireng people in their claim to show that they were one of the earliest of known tribes of ancient Moirang kingdom like the Kabuis, Moyons, Tikhups, Chothes, Kharams, etc.


* Yangsorang Rongreisek wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is from Longa Koireng in Kangpokpi District and can be reached at yangsorangrongreisek(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on June 21, 2022.



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