TODAY -

The Tangkhuls in the historical traditions of Manipur
- Part 2 -

Ch Budhi Singh *

 Rendition of a Tangkhul folk dance during Lai-Haraoba festival at Wangoo Tampha Lairembi in May 2011
Rendition of a Tangkhul folk dance during Lai-Haraoba festival at Wangoo Tampha Lairembi in May 2011 :: Pix - TSE



Germinated on the spree of the local Dravidian historical water-shed, another legend lays claim that on a mission to reclaiming Manipur Shiva visited this country and sojourned at 'Nongmaiching' (or 'Langmaiching) hill' amid peoples like Angom, Luwang, Thang-e, Selloi (Siroi)-langmai, Saram Tangkhul etc.

This visitor must have been an outstanding strong man likened to Shiva in the legend, and the whole story may have been a fabrication to explain the infiltration of one Tari who usurped leadership of Angom and Sarang- Leishangthem communities (Tari was the name of a small tribe of the Karen/ Koireng).

That Tari originating in the Karen tribe was perhaps likened to Shiva in this legend. 'Nongmaiching' is known by another name i.e., 'Baruni hill' too, presumably after the term 'Barus' which the Burmese used as a word for 'camphor'.

In recent past camphor was locally produced at this hill; hence, mayhap this additional name of the hill. The Meitei pilgrimage to worship Mahadev at this hill on a night annually in the month of March a few days after the Holi festival could perhaps be linked to the above legend of Shiva's sojourn at this hill.

'Numit sana khomdol' of Numit kappa legend, who fled the attack of 'Khaba Khui', hero of the Khaba community, took asylum at Moirang, and later sheltered at a particular spot, 'Sangai Yumpham', in this hill, that has been consecrated as a sanctum sanctorum by the Meitei people.

This hill is the tryst, too, of another legendary hero, 'Nongpok'/'Nongpok Sellu (siroi) Apanba'/ 'Nongpok Mallang Humoiba'/'Saram Tangkhul Pakhangba'(names after, and personifications of, the direction of the compass, the east', abode of the Tangkhuls in Manipur) and his female partner 'Saram Tangkhul Nurabi' who purportedly create scene of dispute over the question of ownership of land in the 'Tangkhul versus Nurabi' episode of Lai haraoba dance drama.

One finds this anecdote transmuted into another legendary narrative with the new content of romantic affairs of 'Nongpok Ningthou' and 'Panthoibi' (the story detailed in the local text Panthoibi Khonggul). 'Panthoibi' whose archetype may aptly be fixed on the fabulous Amazonian queen 'Panthoisilla' that figured in the Trojan War on the side of the Trojan prince Priam, was locally a hedonistic and atypical daughter of the Mangang royal House of the Gandharva community of early Manipur, who had been none else than the Manians/Minoans of the ancient Bronze Age Cretan World, and who fanned out on migration also far to the Orient.

They were a people of early Manipur whom the Meitei then called 'Mangang Hao'. Meitei king Naothingkhong (663-760 A.D.) conquered and assimilated them into the Meitei population, appropriating many of their things cultural of superior quality including, say, their word 'Mangang' as the prestigious name for the dominant ruling clan of the larger Meitei society.

Immediately prior to that event they had been settling at 'Haokap Chingshang', the low-lying hill range (extension of the high Koubru Range) just bordering the Manipur Valley on its south-west. Evidence has it also that still earlier they had settled at the source of the Gwaii river to the west of the 'Koubru Peak'.

Certain Gandharva individuals got drifted to the Tangkhul populations, possibly among the 'Luhupa Tangkhuls'. The Meiteis called them 'Tangkhul Gandharvas'. There appears to have a claim of the Puimei of Hao-Chongpal settlement of Ngaprum Chingjin region that at dim past some of their ancestors migrated to the east where they became gradually known as 'Luhupa Tangkhuls'. This claim may be clubbed with the trace of Gandharva elements in this section of the Tangkhuls.

A retrospection into the above array of legends rebellows the feature of something like an algebraic line drawn over several names of divine or so idealities having a common relation to what follows or precedes; the names already produced above and the rest culled from the text on local historical traditions may be marshalled in this order of sequence: 'Haraba' (Shiva) = 'Marjing' = 'Nongpok (-Ningthou',-sellu or Sirioi Apanba,'-Mallang Humoiba') = 'Tangkhul (-Huitop Pakhangba,'-Saram Pakhangba') = 'Angom (- Poleilomba,' - Ningthou' ) = 'Angouba' or 'Angou - Panba.'

Their common relation consists in being names a Divinity ('Lainingthou Sanamahi'/ 'Ashiba') assumes in His chequered cosmogonical manifestations in the work of creation of the socio-cultural world. Now, as a requisite of this write-up, it can't but be pointed out that the Tangkhul ascribed hereabove as having had creative divine touch of Shiva ('Ashiva'/'Sanamahi' of the Meitei) trace to the Tangkhul-turned-Angoms, offspring of the Tangkhul younger brother of the story that we read at the beginning, that horde that formed the stem of the Angom clan at the time of the socio-political formation of the greater Meitei community, whose leader 'Poleilomba' was, for what he contributed to the making of Manipur to follow up, and for the grand historic background of having had affinity with the Dravidians and the Gandharvas of that antiquity, conferred a number of high titles of common affinity even with the 'Creator' of the Meitei cosmology, and accordingly honoured with a multitude of special privileges and prerogatives held in unique statuses, all that in sum is our overview of the same.

Contrariwise of these progeny of the Tangkhul younger brother that prospered to the status of being an important section of the panna (free) Meitei populace of the historical kingdom of Manipur, the descendents of the elder brother who stayed on in the eastern hills of the state remained till recently a historical backwater.

Once the Meitei kingdom was formed in the valley, the total lot of the separated, forgotten hill brethren were reduced to tribute-payers to the emerging kingly state, and thus left succumbed to all possible hardships and sufferings of being subdued. Save for certain individuals of outstanding achievements from among them, that too very few and far between, the rest bulk of the said lot were bogged down in segregation and benumbed, ever forbidden to enter en masse into the greater fold of the panna citizens of the kingly state.

The main hindrance to that effect was the immutable ideological principle of the then prevailing type of state, 'middle kingdom' by which is meant the kingdom existing sandwiched by the celestical kingdom above and the sluggish underworld beneath, while the peoples on its peripheral margins were censured unfit to be bona fide citizens of its civic body politic.

Damned and dumped in seclusion were the Huns/Turks/hsiung-nu and the other border tribes unnumbered in Imperial China, so were the Germans in Imperial Rome, inclusion of which stuff therein was condemned as defiling the high civitas of the imperial systems. Individual Germans were, however, recruited in the Roman Imperial army; toward the close of the fourth century A.D. wealthy Roman households were running with German slaves. German individuals were working in the body-guards of Roman nobles, too.

All what happened so happened sheerly as a matter of historical necessity of that antiquity, a reality of the platitudinous tenet of historical relativity. No force could undo the same. History moves in its own intrinsic momentum that one can't meddle with. One need not, therefore, lament or argue on the course of history.

It has its own process that works spontaneously, whereas historiography may be a conscious tradition though, like other cultural phenomena. Soothfastly, therefore, the past is for learning from, not to live in. Given any residue of historical damage/injury, if there be, history in the fitness of its irony may vindicatively heal up the lingering casualty of the past, its linear span recoiling itself thereby its head biting the tail.

That way history revisits the present in guise of the latter; reversely, the present appears quo avatar of the past reborn. In line with this continuing nuanced design of history the historical traditions of Manipur, too, stand still in good stead to redress the threatened balance of harmony befalling this state initially in the aftermath of the early historical formation of the Manipuri 'middle kingdom' in the valley, and the concordant Meitei ethnic formation that was eventually trailed by a historical grave situation of religious divide between and betwixt the valley and the hills at the advent of the Hindu proselytisation of the ethnic Meiteis in the eighteenth century of the present era, and subsequently Christianisation of the Tangkhuls and other hill tribes of this state one after another during its colonial days, all being responsible for the current condition of anomie plaguing the societal life of Manipur whereby its two sets of people, the valley and the hills, are left poles asunder.

Now, then, what to learn from the historical tradition of Manipur to meaningfully address the emergent crisis of the tangential inertia of conflict in the question of integration of this state in today's democratic set-up of civic life. The past does not die out overnight; it continues in the present putting on the latter's form, yet in a new content.

This idea of history accorded with, the reconciliation management spree in action observed on the occasions of the annual state festival of Hao chongba and the Meitei cyclic festival of Lai haraoba, both renewing regularly the message of organic solidarity of the hills and the plain, that the peoples of Manipur inherit from their historical tradition, should be fed amply with new suitable content that may be envisaged in certain empathic innovation of a sort of democratic, inclusive institutional re-arrangement / re-structuring amicable to both the two sets of people of this state to befittingly cater to the growing and widening range of aspirations of the peoples thereof to participate in self-rule/self governance, the law-making process in particular, and thus cracking down the present bottle-neck impediment to the aspirations in question.

Fairly germane would it be to what is expected of the Government concerned for it to execute nation-building from 'below' and 'lateral' locus in quo in the proper light of contemporary civil polity.

Concluded


* Ch Budhi Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The author is formerly a Professor of Social Anthropology at Manipur University, Canchipur.
This article was webcasted on June 08, 2019.



* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • A Soldier speaks over Timeline of Kashmir
  • International Day of Indigenous People
  • Saving future Manipur- need of the hour
  • Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy) #9
  • Independence Day : Gallery
  • Suicide: how it looks like & what is
  • Manipur's 1st photojournalist, Santosh Ph
  • Mutum Ramo : President's Police Medal
  • A Letter to my Mother
  • Candle Light at Delhi for Babysana
  • In search of the elusive unity
  • Naga solution anytime soon, says Ravi
  • Landscape Dzukou Valley #1 : Gallery
  • Indigeneity: Expression & Experience : Book
  • Cry of a Dying River - 89 :: Poem
  • Career in youth development
  • The Wind Will Carry Us : Film screening
  • Communication Course for Development
  • Impact of Christianity among Vaiphei #1
  • Dolaithabi Barrage: An emerging failed Dam
  • Chamba, Ayung, Paomilal :: eMing
  • New India in Konung Lampak
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • High Court & Workers on Sand Quarrying
  • Niranjoy attempt to break Guinness Record
  • Scripting Congress Mukt slogan
  • Bharat Mata has no place on August 13
  • Heikat-Leikat [13 Aug] #1 : Gallery
  • 13 August: Day to remember the heroes #1
  • Jallianwala: Manglen Onkhraba Lamjao
  • Lets us preserve indigenous languages
  • Hepatitis and pregnancy
  • On statement by Hoho & Naga Mother
  • Thangmeiband : Distasteful politics
  • Remembering patriots
  • UN Human Rights: Manipur Experience #5
  • Patriots' Day @ Pune : Gallery
  • Historical War fought by Manipur :: Articles
  • Police adapting to challenge by trafficking
  • Preventing TB is rooted in medical ethics
  • In the name of Love :: Poem
  • Expensive motor laws on the way
  • 13th August observed at Pune
  • Youth conclave with a difference
  • Alarming State of Students Life in Manipur
  • Babysana: Student - Aug 10 #1: Gallery
  • On Manipur Handlooms: A Clarion Call
  • Dzuko - A piece of heaven on earth #2
  • Of Colours and Sunset
  • A Beautiful Mind :: Poem
  • An apple a day keeps wrinkles at bay
  • From hostels to the school
  • Renaissance of Meitei Hinduism
  • Babysana: State bandh - Aug 9 #2: Gallery
  • Id-Ul-Azha - Id Festival :: Book
  • Would any journalist dare to stand up #2
  • Artic Haobam won 1st ArP championship
  • Invitation : RIST Talk - 40 @ MU
  • Condole demise of Phanjoubam Santosh
  • Making a New India & fate of Manipur
  • Babysana: State bandh - Aug 9 #1: Gallery
  • Some basics that many people ignored
  • House building of the Zeliangrong #2
  • Condolence : Photo Jounalist Ph Santosh
  • World Indigenous Peoples at Khumulwng
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Zo Forum celebrates Indigenous day
  • Lukanand Ksh wins at Mister North East
  • Post mortem reports fail to cut ice
  • Babysana: Student protest- Aug 8: Gallery
  • Counterpoints: Transgender Rights Bill #2
  • Manipur topped rankings in Breastfeeding
  • Cry of a Dying River - 88 :: Poem
  • World Indigenous Peoples Day
  • Criticizes scrapping of Article 370
  • Naga leader compromise Naga future
  • Free Children Heart Surgery Camp
  • Another bandh after 12 hours bandh over
  • Babysana death: What ails this society
  • Folklore of Hao communities #3
  • Programm @Sangai Fest #4 : Gallery
  • 'Tamenglong & Manipur' Amur Falcons #2
  • Haris Adhikari: Finest Whiskey in Writing
  • Manipur bag 6 medals at National Fencing
  • Agriculture and skill training
  • Resolutions on Naga Political Issue
  • Need for Imphal to reach out to hill CSO
  • ..should be justice for 1000s babysanas
  • Ibudhou Pakhangba Haraoba #2: Gallery
  • Mob Culture in Manipur
  • Dzuko - A piece of heaven on earth #1
  • Abrogation of Article 370
  • Issue of illegal mining of minor minerals
  • Annual Legal Awareness Program at Pune
  • Power, Works back to Biswajit
  • Redefining India
  • Gandhari (Dance Drama) #1 : Gallery
  • Would any journalist dare to stand up #1
  • The Truth Lie :: Poem
  • An opportunity to end AIDS & TB
  • Soft skills?? What are soft skills
  • Community - Road to healthy environment
  • Scrapping Articles 370, 35A
  • Matsyanyaya: Law of the Fish
  • Babysana: protest @Khuyathong : Gallery
  • Road from Haochong to Noney : Gallery
  • House building of the Zeliangrong #1
  • The World We Want
  • My Lil' Hamlet :: Poem
  • CM meet with CSO: Naga solution at hand?
  • Aliyah #2 (Film Scenes) :: eRang
  • Old Age Home Kumbi : Gallery
  • Counterpoints: Transgender Rights Bill #1
  • 'Tamenglong & Manipur' Amur Falcons #1
  • Vocationalisation of education in Manipur
  • Tourism Festivals & Tourists in Manipur
  • The World Turned Upside Down :: Poem
  • Think about the future
  • Nachom : used traditionally by Meitei
  • Kanglen Kang Chingba #2 : Gallery
  • Trend of private drug rehabilitation centre
  • Saffronites unhappy with power politics
  • IABP (Balloon Pump) saved life
  • Mega Mister & Miss North East
  • Anti-terror laws & victimization of innocent
  • The state today: blame the representative
  • Will remain true to Framework : IM
  • Laonii Fest @Phuba #1 : Gallery
  • No #endAIDS without #endTB
  • Cry of a Dying River - 87 :: Poem
  • Green your skills for green jobs
  • Ji Ingobi Chingtham: Bicycle tour
  • Will surrogacy law be really effective?
  • Vacancies at Hadron Techs, Imphal
  • 14 hours out of 24 hours
  • When people turn violent against HC order
  • Babysana's last rites performed: Gallery
  • August Calendar for Year 2019 :: Tools
  • Parade @ Manipur Police, Pangei: Gallery
  • War with Climate
  • Matric, UG & PG days of an aerobiologist
  • Invitation : Workshop on Mathematica
  • Job vacancies at Makok Technologies
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Arrested but not on murder charge
  • Threatened future and the way out
  • Downside of Khuga Multipurpose Project
  • Manipur State Drug Policy #2
  • Scope of career in legal field
  • Demising the Adolescent Miss :: Poem
  • Threats against Rights defender Sobita
  • Demands action against scribe-assailants
  • Back home after Delhi's suggestion
  • Babysana's death and its questions
  • Licypriya: Abdul Kalam Children Award 2019
  • Two positives attracting each other
  • Kakching World War-II Memorial Run
  • Assessment your Tax for ITR
  • Who is responsible ?
  • Rejoinder to branding me as Fortune Teller
  • From Dec 8, 2016 to July 29, 2019
  • Of faith and failed justice
  • Neli Chachea: Doll Maker : Gallery
  • Traditional Practices of the Kukis: Book
  • Zero HIV transmission is must to #endAIDS
  • North-East students of Aryans Group shine
  • Th Tababi: gold at Asian-Oceania Judo
  • Mary Kom: Gold at President Cup, Indonesia
  • Rio on contribution of Himalayan States
  • Stand off to Babysana's death
  • Ibudhou Thangjing Haraoba #4: Gallery
  • CMHT cards to journalists : Gallery
  • Understanding land for peace
  • Politics & farmers waiting for a downpour
  • An Endless Summer :: Poem
  • Tobacco harm reduction - A realistic option
  • NDPP reacts to statement of NPF President
  • The fools think we can be fooled easily
  • Twinkle Twinkle Scientists Star
  • Rohan Philem Reception @Pune : Gallery
  • Keisham Geenita : tops AIEEA-PG-2019
  • Are we putting efforts on grassroot football
  • Condemns insensitive attitude of police
  • Skin problems that arise during monsoon
  • Countdown to Year 10 of Weekender
  • Light at the end of peace process
  • Of human rights and open world
  • General strike on Babysana : Gallery
  • Manipur State Drug Policy #1
  • Kindness - A Virtue
  • L Sarita nominated at AIBA commission
  • We don't lack talents :: Hidam Rajeev
  • Cry of a Dying River - 86 :: Poem
  • Courses on Information Technology
  • Three decisions vis-a-vis Babysana's death
  • Corporal punishment - violation of RTE
  • Trekking to Dzukou Valley #2: Gallery
  • Haj pilgrims send-off : Gallery
  • Is Lack of rain a problem for Paddy ..
  • Mission 'School Phagat Hanshi'
  • Labour Codes threaten Press Freedom
  • Program for IHGF Delhi Fair at Kakching
  • Heart Camp at Health Centre, MU
  • Questions on safety of school hostels
  • Babysana's case, safety of our children
  • Nupi Pali @ Kang festival: Gallery
  • Some Chase Goal, Some Hunt Goal
  • Himalayas: Where India Meets China..
  • Preventing TB is critical to #endAIDS
  • The Killing Fields 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • Career option in Anthropology
  • Deafening silence of Govt
  • BJP's image in serious trouble
  • Gandhari (Dance Drama) : A synopsis
  • Social service @Ibudhou Thangjing: Gallery
  • Sanamahi Cheng Hongba #2: Gallery
  • Weaving at Nongpok Sanjenbam : Gallery
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2019 #3: Gallery
  • Social service @ Moirang : Gallery
  • World Music Day @Yaiskul #3: Gallery
  • 3rd Singcha Wuyawon Festival 2019
  • seL tiHZakaNdta nuHZa_Iba :: Seireng
  • Choidev Chongba @Kang Fest: Gallery
  • Cracks at Thong Nambonbi : Gallery
  • Yumnam Shamu : Natbhusan (Duhar)
  • The Great June Uprising #5: Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • BAMCHAS Convention @ Sylhet : Gallery
  • Tolloi, Ukhrul :: 360 Panorama View
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2019 : Download
  • SPONSORED ADS