TODAY -

An introspection to some dimension of compositeness and oneness of the settlers of Manipur
- Part 3 -

Dr Priyadarshni M Gangte *

The varied communities of Manipur
The varied communities of Manipur :: Credit - DIPR Manipur



(iii) Higgins, J.C., the then Political Agent, Manipur (1919 : KPM/37/198) said, "Manipuri and Thadou Kuki contain certain roots in common, but are quite distinct languages and a knowledge of one does not enable a person to make himself understood by persons speaking the other. Assam Government, therefore, grants a separate reward to Officers passing in both".

(iv) According to Rev. Renghang Chothe, there are no less 30 (thirty) percent vocabularies of the Chothe dialect with the Manipuri language which are also similar to the Thadou language.

There are few of the original vocabularies that stand the winds of change that were experienced in the languages of Meitei, Kuki and Naga. While that of the Kukis and the Nagas remain more or less unchanged, a lot of sanskritization had taken place in the case of Meitei language that had distanced their homogeneity. It is to be seen as to how long the relic remnants of linguistic homogeneity would survive.

(6) Adoration of Sanamahi and Leimaren : As far as the household deities like Sanamahi and Leimaren is concerned the Chothe Kabui, Koireng, Kom had practised the worshipping of such deities like the Meiteis did at one point of time i.e. before the advent of Christianity. It will be pertinent to note that the Chothes also followed the same custom giving emphasis to local deity worship.

It is one customary law other than they have such several similar customs and tradition with other fellow tribes. It is obligatory for a newly married daughter-in-law as soon as she enters the house of her husband for the first time, to pay homage to ImaLeimaren and then to Sanamahi. Adoring of Sanamahi is still retained among the Chothes.

(7) Seven Clanned Societies : The system of clan arrangement among the Chothe, Maring, Anal, Tangkhul, Kom, Moyon-Monshang, Koireng societies are divided into 7 (seven) clans like the Meiteis and the Kabuis, such as also Mangang, Luwang, Khuman, Angom, Khaba-Nganba, Moirang and Sarang Leishangthem practices of marriage restriction within the same clan is also practised among the Chothes and most of the Chin Kuki tribes and Kabuis.

(8) Wangbrel Shangnu Tradition : Wangbrel, one of the nine deities who protect the south direction married an Anal lady named Shangnu of Anal KhullenWangbrel was the God of Water even today homage is regularly paid at the Shrine, erecting two stones of which the bigger one symbolises Wangbrel while the smaller symbolizing Shangnu.

Gangmumei maintained that on the basis of Wangbrel-Shangnu tradition, some claim is made of the village as having a hoary antiquity of 2000 years which appeared a conjectural work. Thus, this legend plays a significant role in the historical development as well as in the socio-cultural ties among the inhabitants of Manipur in particular. It would be important to note that Wangbrel, well know that Kom tribe as per Ch. Budhi, Kom and Anal are old Kuki groups of people.

Tribal origin of the Meitei clans was strongly opposed by some writers in the 19th and 20th centuries mainly on the ground that there was no legend or tradition among the Meiteis to substantiate their common origin with the tribes is at present and however, found to be unfounded. Oral history of the hill dwellers are of substantial. Instances are galore that there are migrations of some individual Meitei heroes or families in the hills who absorbed themselves into the societies of tribes in whichever they might choose to be converted into.

CHIKIM-MEITEI Relationship:

Of all Tibeto-Burman peoples the Meitei of Manipur were the people linguistically closest to the CHIKIM and they settled together as one group in the Chindwin Valley. Historical materials of the Meiteis have shown the presence of CHIKIM people in the Chindwin Valley after the beginning of the Christian era. Lehman in his book The Structure of Chin Society: Urbana, 1963, puts the CHIKIM's occupation of the area well into the middle of the first millennium A.D., in which period the Meiteis conquered the Andro-Sekmai group of people, who were inhabitants of present day Manipur.

Hudson has maintained that the Meiteis were descendents of surrounding hill tribes. Their traditions have remained similar and even today they retain many customs of the hill people. He wrote, in 1900 that the organization, religion, habits and manners of the Meitei of two hundred years before were the same as the hill people (CHIKIM and Naga) of his own era. It is indeed an important observation and demands critical appreciation.

Metei Naga Relationship :

There are legends and traditions, which tell of early relationships between Meitei, Naga, and CHIKIM the three ethnoses. A Tangkhul (Naga) tradition says that Naga, Meitei and CHIKIM descended from a common ancestor who had three sons. These were the progenitors of the tribes. This tradition puts the CHIKIM as the eldest and the Meitei the youngest.

Hudson wrote, "The Tangkul legend is to the effect that one day a sow, heavy with young, wandered from the village of Hundung and was tracked to the valley by the younger of the two brothers who had migrated from the village of MaikeiTungam, where their parents lived, and had founded the village of Hundung. Oknung, the pig's stone, where the sow was eventually found, is situated on the banks of the Iril River.

The sow littered there and the young man stayed to look after her; and as he found the country to his liking, he decided to settle there. For a time he kept up friendly relations with his brother in the hills, who made a practice of sending him every year gifts of produce of the hills and in turn received presents of the manufacture of the plains. The younger brother became well-to-do and proud, and abandoned the custom of sending presents to his brother in the hills, who promptly came down and took what he had been in the habit of getting.

It would also of interesting that the oral history of most of communities of the state gives a space of common origin. Tangkhul, Mao, Maram, Thangal (Koirao), Paomai and Kabui communities are said to have originated from a place called Makhen in Senapati district, Manipur. Legend of Thangals points that their cave is connected to Kangla through an underground tunel.

Khoibu an old Kuki ethnic community also share affinity with Meiteis. Till now they preserved their cultural relationship with the Meitei King. Legends preserved by the villagers of Khangshim, tell that they are called "Khoibu" because they were supplier of honey to the king. They also claim that the original Meitei script is still with the Khoibus is also confirmed and clearly given in detailed.

Historically they are recorded in the chronicle of the state, Cheitharol Kumbaba as people who defended the state from the Burmese in eastern side of Manipur. Even the very term Khoibu is being told as name given by the Meitei king, Kyamba. Apart from many other political aspects, during the seven years Devastation period, many ethnic communities belonging to Naga and Chikim played role which are perhaps, found to be sidelined, not incorporated and excluded.

The Maos, the Kabuis and other Naga communities, so also the Hmars, the Khoibus, the Thadous and other Chikim groups of people took part, of course in different ways and levels in defending and safeguarding the territorial integrity of Kingdom. Every ethnic communities place and role since the very remote and recent past are remarkable, is, however, found absent from the plain of the objectivity of historical writing of Manipur. This area of sidelines needs to be reconsidered.

Conclusion : The three ethnoses have a common origin and had evolved authority, shared perception through give and take a progressive society. However, with the coming of Hinduism and Christianity and also the Colonial administration whose intentionally consist an efforts had divided these communities ultimately resorted to strange relationship instead of cordial and cohesiveness. Their future stand is not isolated but in togetherness.

Therefore, it is the need of the hour that a comprehensive and integrated history will all inclusiveness's of tradition, culture, and socio-economic and political spheres manifestation of all the inhabitants during points of time must be acknowledged by documentation. A history of Manipur in true spirit COMPOSITE HISTORY is certainly born no matter the time factor is in fact late.

(Concluded.....)


* Dr Priyadarshni M Gangte wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is Associate Professor and Co-ordinator, Human Rights & Duties Education Centre, Damdei Christian College, Motbung
This article was posted on June 18, 2017.


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