When you remember Marathon, I remember Maibam Tamra Singh

Dr. Khomdon Lisam *

8th Mega Marathon 2014 - under theme 'Run for Your Nation' at Imphal :: 16 February 2014
8th Mega Marathon 2014 at Imphal on 16 February 2014 :: Pix - Ashok Ningthoujam

Lord North Brook, the Viceroy and Governor General of India (3 May 1872- 12 April 1876) expressed his desire to visit some places of the eastern region of India. He informed the Chief Commissioner of Assam, Mr. Richard Harte Keatinge (18741878) about the date and place of the proposed meeting. Mr. Richard Harte Keatinge in turn informed Dr. R. Brown, FRCS the Political Agent of Manipur (1867-1875).

Dr. R. Brown informed Maharaja Chandrakirti, son of Maharaja Gambheer Singh about the proposed meeting with Lord North Brook, the Viceroy and Governor General of India at Malugram, Cachar on 30 July, 1874 through Thangal Major. After a lengthy discussion with his officials, the Maharaja Chandrakirti decided to join the Meeting with Lord North Brook, the Viceroy of India at Malugram, Cachar on 30 July, 1874. The Maharaja was keen to go for the meeting with appropriate security.

Thangal Major made an elaborate security arrangement for the king. An advance party of 500 people comprising of Khoisnam joy singh, Yumkhaibam Maipak Subedar, Thingbaijam komol singh, Tongbram Bol Singh, Subedar and many soldiers, attendants, cooks with necessary food supplies and equipment to clear the jungles, to repair the road, to make temporary bridges, to erect temporary shelters at suitable places and to mobilize local people for receiving the Maharaja was dispatched in advance.

He mobilized 500 Meitei soldiers with guns, bayonets, ammunitions, swords and another 500 hill soldiers in black dress with headgear well equipped with swords and spears for personal protection of the king. He prepared eight elephants well decorated with Sembang Mahum for the journey He also mobilized 50 cavalry for special protection of the king.

The Maharaja started his journey for the Zilla Durbar on 17 Ingngel, Friday, 1874 accompanied by his two sons, Kullachandra Wangkheilakpa , Pheijaosana (Jhalkirty), Samuhanjaba. Thangal Major, Sougaijamba Major, longjam Puskar and many other noblemen accompanied Maharaja Chandrakiti in the journey. Maharaja arrived at Cachar on 24 Ingngel, 1874 after a hazardous journey. After reaching Cachar, when he relaxed on the bed, he suddenly remembered that he had forgotten to bring two important documents which the British Authorities had signed in favour of his father, Maharaja Gambheer Singh .

The two documents were (1) The Treaty of Yandabo, signed on 24 February 1826 . Under this treaty, the British Government and the King of Burma recognized Gambheer Singh as the ruler of Manipur. (2) Another treaty is the Treaty of 1833, signed on 18 April, 1833 under which the British Government agreed to give to the Raja of Manipur the line of the Jiri river and western bank of Barak river as the boundary between Manipur and Assam.

He declared in presence of everybody that " In my dream , Shri Shri Govinda appeared and told me that I will have a successful meeting with the Viceroy provided I wear a garland which is the nirmal of Shri Shri Govinda. There are still four days left for the Zilla Durbar. But if one of you go to Imphal, you can ask my mother (Maisnam Kumudini ) to hand over the two documents of 1826 and 1833. Is there any volunteer.?"

At this critical moment, one Maibam Tanmra volunteered to run to Imphal. Maibram Tamra Singh was well known for his exceptional strength and very good physique. With the blessings of the Maharaja, he started running with a small bag of chengpak on foot from Cachar in the early morning and kept continuously running without any break. When he reached Lamangdong (Bishnupur), he collapsed and went to sleep for few hours.

He was woken up in the morning by an elderly person , The man enquired what happened to him. He told all the stories. The man gave him his horse to go ahead. He entered the palace on horseback and told the stories to queen mother Maisnam Kumudini . The queen mother with the help of Surchandra, Maharaja's eldest son arranged everything - the documents , the garland nirmal from Shri Sri Govinda .

She also offered two kwa matap for her son prepared by herself with the instruction that his son Maharaja Chandrakirti should go for the meeting chewing the kwa matap. Maibam Tamra started his return journey again on horse back. On reaching Lamangdong , he handed over the horse to the owner and stated running on foot. He reached Cachar just one day prior to the proposed meeting at Malugram.

The king was very happy and Maibam Tamra Singh was awarded for his exemplary work. The Zilla Durbar was held on 30 July, 1874. The Viceroy was really happy and impressed to see Maharaja Chandrakirti and his entourage. On 31st July, 1874, an exhibition Polo match was displayed in honour of Lord North Brook, the viceroy of India at Silchar. Chandrakirti made his return journey for Imphal on 14 August, 1874.

Today , the Marathon is known as a long-distance running event with an official distance of 42.195 kilometres (26 miles and 385 yards), usually run as a road race. The event was instituted in commemoration of the fabled run of the Greek soldier Pheidippides, a messenger from the Battle of Marathon to Athens, Greece. Thus the name Marathon comes from the legend of Pheidippides, a Greek messenger.

The legend states that he was sent from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon (in which he had just fought), which took place in August or September, 490 BC. It is said that he ran the entire distance without stopping and burst into the King's assembly, exclaiming nenikekamen, "we have won", before he dropped death in front of the king.

The marathon was one of the original modern Olympic events to commemorate the battle of Marathon in 1896, though the distance did not become standardized until 1921. The International Olympic Committee agreed in 1907 that the distance for the 1908 London Olympic marathon would be about 25 miles or 40 kilometres.

The Greek invented the Marathon race of around 25 km to commemorate the battle of Marathon. But here is one forgotten Manipuri hero who run more than 250 km at a stretch without stopping from Cachar to Imphal and on the next day from Imphal to Cachar. Can we think of organising a State Race naming Maibam Tamra Singh Race to commemorate the Zilla Durbar of Maharaja Chandrakirti.

I am making a fervent appeal to the Department of Sports and Youth Affaires , the Sports lovers and the civil societies in Manipur the feasibility of instituting one road race naming Maibam Tamra Singh Race to commemorate the Zilla Durbar of Maharaja Chandrakirti. I think this is a matter of pride for us to remember this event, which is not less than Marathon race.

* Dr. Khomdon Lisam wrote this article for
The writer can be contacted at khomdon(doT)lisam(at)yahoo(dot)com
This article was posted on March 26, 2015.

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