TODAY -

A note on Cheiraoba as practiced by Meitei Hindus

Hareshwar Goshwami *

Cheiraoba Chak Katpa at entrance Gate of every house in Imphal :: April 14 2015
Cheiraoba Chak Katpa at entrance Gate of a house in Imphal on April 14 2015 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam



Meitei Hindus of Manipur and others elsewhere in the world observe New Year or Cheiraoba every year sometime in mid April when the Sun enters the house of Aries or Mesha Rashi. This day is also called Mesha Sankranti (transmigration of the Sun into the house of Aries) by the Hindus. Mesha Sankranti is taken as the first day of the solar cycle year that is the solar New Year as per Hindu calendar based on the movement of the Sun. The day usually falls on 13 or 14 of April (sometimes 15 April) every year and take it as the first day of the first month of the year in many local and regional calendars of India and South-east Asia, that adopt solar calendar.

The observation of Cheiraoba by Meiteis Hindus in Manipur is (apparently) in no way related with Charak Pujah, a Siva worship ritual of the Bengalis as suggested by some people. The nature of the ritual performed during Charak Pujah and that of Cheiraoba observed by the Meitei Hindus are quite different. During the festival of Charak Pujah, the human Charak is pierced with hooks called borshi on his back and then he is moved around with ropes fixed on a pole.

Further, Charak Pujah takes place on the mid night of the last day of the month Chaitra/Choitro. However, preparation of the festival ( Charak Pujah) usually starts before one month of the Chaitra Sankranti that usually falls in the last week of March or first/second week of April. As per Bengali calendar, the month Chaitra/Choitro (March-April) is taken as the last month of the year whereas, the month Baishakh/Boishakh (April-May) is taken as the first month of the year.

The name Sajibu Cheiraoba ( Sajibu New Year) practiced by the Meitei Hindus is adopted from the traditional Meitei word Sajibu (March /April), the first month of the traditional Meitei calendar and Cheiraoba, heralding of the approach of new year by holding a stick. It is also said that the date of observation of Cheiraoba by the Meitei Hindus is copied from the Bangali calendar after adoption of many of the Meiteis into Hinduism in the early part of eighteenth century and introduction of Goura Hinduism in the later period ( subject to further research).

In fact, the people of Bengal too, observe New Year as Pohela Boishakh or Poila Baishakh, the first day of the month of Baishakh based on the movement of the Sun in relation with the Zodiac signs. As stated above, Baishakh (April/May) is the first month of a year as per Hindu Bengali calendar that adopts solar chart based on the movement of the Sun. Every year, the first day of Baishakh coincides with 13 or 14 (sometimes 15) in the mid April.

As such, the Meitei Hindus of Manipur observe Cheiraoba almost in the manner and style of the traditional Manipuri Meiteis and the date is seemingly adopted from the solar calendar used by the Hindu Bengalis and certainly not from the date of observation of the Charak Pujah .

Besides Meitei Hindus of Manipur, many non-Hindi speaking Indian states like Assam, Bengal, Kerala, Odisha, Tamil Nadu,Tripura, Punjab along with many other South-east Asian countries including Myanmar, Cambodia, Shri Lanka, Thailand, Laos, Bangladesh, some section of people living in Chittagong Hill Tracts and many other communities living in this region also celebrate New Year either on 13 or 14 April ( occasionally 15) every year as per local/regional astrological readings based on solar calendar.

At some places the festival is observed for two to five days. In Assam, the occasion is celebrated as Bohag or Rongali Bihu, in Bengal and Bangladesh as Poila Boishakh (Pohela Baishakh), in Tamil Nadu as Puthandu, in Kerala as Vishu, in Odisha as Pana Sankranti, in Tripura as Boisuk, in Punjab as Baishakhi or Baishakh, in Chittagong Hills as Sangrai by Marma people and Biju by Chakma people, in Myanmar as Thingyan, in Cambodia as Chaul Chnam Thmey, in Sri Lanka as Aluth Avurudda, in Thailand as Sonkran, in Laos as Bpee Mai/Sonkran or Songkran and so on.

On the other hand, the month called Chaitra/Choitro (March-April) is taken as the first month of a year and Baishakh (April/May) as second month of the year as per traditional Hindu calendar based on the movement of the Moon. As per the lunar calendar, the first day of the first fortnight of waxing/brightening moon (Shukla Paksha) of the month of Chaitra is taken and observes as New Year.

This year (2017) the New Year falls on 29th March whereas it was corresponded with 8th April last year (2016) as per calendars based on the movement of the Moon. As such, the first day of Sajibu which corresponds with the first day of Hindu month of Chaitra is taken as New Year by many communities who follow lunar calendar on the basis of their respective regional/local calculations. Mention may be made of Chaitra Navratris in Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jarkhand, Ugadi in Karnataka, Gudhi Padwa in Maharastra, Goa and Konkan, Sajibu Nongma Panba Cheiraoba in Manipur, Navreh in Kashmir, Thapna in Rajasthan etc.

In many places throughout South-east Asia, the festival is also observed as an occasion for family re-unions, exchange of greetings, annual house cleaning, pouring of water, temple visits etc. Except for the water pouring part, other cultural practices performing in many parts of South-east Asia and that of Meitei Hindus are almost identical.

Here it may be pertinent to mention that the Meiteis who practice and uphold the traditional/indigenous Meetei/Meitei religion, celebrate Cheiraoba on the first day of traditional Meitei Calendar Sajibu ( March/April) which generally falls on the last week of March or first/second week of April of the Gregorian Calendar. The traditional Meitei/Meetei Cheiraoba is believed to have been in practice since the time of Nongda Lairen Pakhangba who ruled Manipur in the first century AD. Generally speaking, lunar and lunisolar calendars were common in almost all the ancient countries of the world and still followed by many communities more for socio-cultural purposes.

Lastly, it is a general practice among the Meitei Hindus of Manipur that after cleaning the house, a family meal/feast with variety of items comprising (at least) five or more is prepared with fresh seasonal vegetables and offered it to Yumlai and Lamlai and some people to Hindu Gods and Goddesses they worship at home too, before consuming it by the whole family jointly.

After the meals are over, they use to climb a nearby hill considered to be the abode of Gods and Goddesses by the Meiteis. This tradition reminds the people of Manipur that the land (Manipur) comprises of both hills and valleys and our ancestors once lived in the hills, (though there are other explanations too).

Thus, (Sajibu) Cheiraoba is celebrated in mid-April which usually falls on 13 or 14 April (sometimes 15) by the Meitei Hindus, mostly in local manner and style of the traditional (Sajibu) Nongma Panba Cheiraoba of the original Meitei/Meetei culture, along with many culturally identical people of South-east Asia, who adopt solar calendar.

(NB: The names/terms 'Cheiraoba' and 'Sajibu Nongma Panba (Cheiraoba)' mentioned in this article are adopted from the Manipur Calendar, 2017, published by the Directorate of Information and Public Relations, Government of Manipur)


* Hareshwar Goshwami wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on April 09, 2017.


* 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
  • Bor @Hiyangthang Lairembi #1 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 03 Oct : Govt of Manipur
  • Poets keep a mirror of the real world
  • World Animal Day: Wildlife Week Celebration
  • 'Who am I?'
  • COVID-19 : Impact in Manipur :: News Timeline
  • NSU land claims undermining sportspersons
  • Poor reflection on society: Students on street
  • Mera Chaorel Houba @ Kangla #2 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 02 Oct : Govt of Manipur
  • Chingangbam Ranju: Gold in Skateboarding
  • Clean India Campaign 2022 at MU
  • Prof without a PhD
  • Bio-security to prevent diseases in livestock
  • Befitting response from 'unwanted' parents
  • Stand of STDCM & WMC : ST demand
  • Lamyanba Irawat Birth Anniv #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 01 Oct : Govt of Manipur
  • North East cheers for now
  • Loving Her :: Poem
  • Revoke Show Cause Notice to Dr Sanatomba
  • This Gujarat Model is worth replicating
  • The age-old art of Chola bronze statues
  • Laklaroi Amuk Hanna Yeningtha #2 : Gallery
  • October Calendar for Year 2022 : Tools
  • Old Lambulane, was a trend setting locality
  • Agniveer recruitment rally at Mizoram
  • Prevention of parasitism in livestock #3
  • The ground zero of gratitude
  • Eye makeup products every girl should have
  • Another statewide observance of Irabot Day
  • Saluting the Lamyanba : Respecting dissent
  • How does the full moon make waves...
  • COVID-19 Status 29 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Legalising production & sale of liquor
  • RKCS Children's Painting Competition
  • Online Essay Competition
  • Significance of World Heart Day 2022
  • A kind of feeling :: Poem
  • Free rice and plight of state's farmers
  • Lifting prohibition after 3 decades
  • Linthoi Chanambam : First Judo Gold Medalist
  • COVID-19 Status 28 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2022 #4: Gallery
  • Sore Admiration :: Poem
  • Accountant Assistant @ Amber & Arthur
  • World Heart Day 2022
  • Indo-Naga Talks (2012-) :: News Timeline
  • Plastic menace: Time over for warning
  • Promoting cycling in Imphal
  • Mera Chaorel Houba @ Kangla #1 :: Gallery
  • Tripura Fashion Week @ Agartala :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 27 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • ST status demands in India #2
  • Socio-cultural tourism in NE India
  • Investigation against CRPF Personal
  • Backache in diabetics: Never ignore it
  • 'Poison' liquor still favourite for commoners
  • What has happened to the ban on SUP ?
  • Maibi Jagoi @ Thangjing Haraoba :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 26 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Lamyanba Irabot Ningsing Tha : Plantation
  • World Pharmacists Day 2022
  • Workshop of Wildlife Crime Prevention
  • Genius is knowing when to stop !
  • Naga final pact as Nagaland polls near
  • Lifting prohibition : Talk of the day
  • Tarpon Chaklen Katpa @ Andro #1 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 25 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Lamyanba Irabot Ningsing Tha : Fingerlings
  • Tripura Fashion Week in Agartala
  • World River Day & our environment
  • Nubank : banking industry in Brazil
  • Opposition parties struggling to dent BJP
  • From High Court to Supreme Court ?
  • Lokchao Bridge @ NH 102 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 24 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • What were Phizo's last words to Khodao?
  • Priyadarshini, Priyanka: Everest Taekwondo
  • I swear :: Poem
  • Incomplete lifting of prohibition
  • Prevention of parasitism in livestock #2
  • Wakhal Eronba- Sumang Leela #1 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 23 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Arbin Tonjam: best designer - Miss Manipur
  • Lamyanba Irabot Ningsing Tha at Ithing
  • Ferry to Ganges :: Poem
  • Making public health messaging entertaining
  • Student schooling order exposes fault...
  • Discipline : The common thread
  • Camping @ Shirui Lily Fest #1 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 22 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Youth : An idea can change the world
  • Perceived class conflict triggers friction ...
  • The tale of a forgotten diary
  • Face Redness- How to get rid of it
  • CADA - Govt on collision course
  • Inching towards a final pact ?
  • Border Pillar Inspection @Kamjong :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 21 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Strange bed fellows attempting to cohabit
  • Training for entrepreneur in Food Processing
  • Recalling Alzheimer once again !
  • New Education Policy : The CUET rigmarole
  • Liquor for better health! Indigestible
  • Now focus on ST demand
  • Byron Aihara - A True Lover of Manipur
  • International Day of Peace 2022
  • Human Capital Formation, need of the hour
  • Prevention is better than cure !!
  • Prevention of parasitism in livestock #1
  • Security Conference at Tamenglong
  • Concrete action must follow 'CM Da Haisi'
  • Tag of a dry State for the last 30 years
  • Pungyam Yeiba Fest @Singjamei :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 19 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • National Bamboo Innovation Challenge
  • International Day of Peace & environment
  • Lamyanba Irabot Ningsing Tha: Social Service
  • World Bamboo Day celebrated
  • Domestic capitalists unwilling to trust & invest
  • Street food vogue boon for youth
  • Sit-ins demanding inclusion in ST list
  • Down Memory Lane: My Years with MSAD #3
  • COVID-19 Status 18 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Licypriya to attend UN General Assembly
  • Screenwriters invited to 6-month screenlab
  • An ideal civil servant
  • Tripura Fashion Week in Agartala
  • Opposition parties struggling to dent BJP
  • Taking the customer for granted
  • Miss Manipur 2022 #2 :: Gallery
  • Irabot Ningsing Tha : Jagoi Competition
  • Bringing drug users to mainstream society
  • Namo Birthday special: India matters globally
  • Criticizes village occupation in Ukhrul
  • Use of local agri wastes as substrate
  • Jiribam Keithel [15 June] #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 16 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Boeing University Innovation Leadership
  • ST status demands in India #1
  • Literacy enhancement as a career choice
  • Agniveer recruitment rally at Assam
  • Ignoring the perfect solution to everything
  • Eyeing to end insurgency in next 5 years
  • Laklaroi Amuk Hanna Yeningtha #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 15 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Manipuri Muslim (Pangal) Historical Society
  • 7th election: NE Student Org, Jalandhar
  • Macnivil releases new song: Price they'll pay
  • Youth advocating for sexual health & rights
  • Engineers : The backbone of any Nation
  • IBSD celebrated Hindi Diwas
  • Who is at fault for shrinking roads?
  • After 25 years of negotiations
  • Heikru Hidongba @Bijoy Govinda #2: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 14 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Joint Accordant by NSCN/GPRN & NNPGs
  • In search of Khubak Ishei
  • Lamyanba Irabot Ningsing Tha at Bishnupur
  • Beauty benefits of Amla
  • STDCM sets sight on bandh to draw Govt
  • The unplanned city of Imphal Concrete jungle
  • Down Memory Lane: My Years with MSAD #2
  • COVID-19 Status 13 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Constitution & flag still dogs settlement
  • Churachandpur - The chaos and mess !
  • Rice Afrika is using tech to increase rice
  • Voluntary Blood Donation: An act of solidarity
  • Nagaland desperate for solution to Naga issue
  • Final solution likely very soon: Note key word
  • Miss Manipur 2022 #1 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 12 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Is there a need for another Nupi Lan ?
  • Consultation: Development at Lairouching
  • Bullying : Losing of children's dignity
  • Social Entrepreneur, social currency they earn
  • AMSU in dire need of support of CSOs
  • Mum on the points of JCILPS, STDCM
  • 57th Hunger Marchers' Day #3 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 11 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • 1st Anniv: The Keithel Store Pune :: Gallery
  • Beyond Teachers' Day
  • On farm production of Mycorrhizae
  • Onam and the legend behind it
  • COVID-19 Status 10 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Fake voters testify official nepotism
  • From 1999 to 2022 : TSE is now 23
  • Yaoshang Thabal Competition #3 :: Gallery
  • Kholao Deben went with the Queen
  • Imaginary grudge severs human relations
  • A Phenomenally Him :: Poem
  • Bharat Jodo Yatra: Last ditch effort...
  • Special Lok Adalat for Imphal & Bishnupur
  • Pineapple Fest @Bunglon, CCpur :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 09 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Tarpon: Annual offerings to the dead by living
  • Book review: Aeromycology over Kachai lemon
  • On saying Hello
  • Himalayan Day celebrated at IBSD, Imphal
  • Get rid of strawberry legs at home
  • Manipuri driver primary source of 'Loyalty tax'
  • The 'tax-extortion' argument
  • Down Memory Lane: My Years with MSAD #1
  • COVID-19 Status 08 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • [Jobs] Biotechnology ignition grant for NE
  • 1st Anniversary of The Keithel Store Pune
  • International Literacy Day & our Environment
  • 1 Lakh Hand Sanitizer Bottles handed over
  • Pinning hope on Sangai fest to draw tourists
  • Points to study from Mizoram
  • Heikru Hidongba @Bijoy Govinda #1: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 07 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Schedule Tribe Demand, Recent cries
  • Intricacies of core issue in Naga insurgency
  • On Poiroukhongjin High School issue
  • Celebrating International Literacy Day, 2022
  • Condemn physical assault on women vendor
  • Scoundrel official undermining essence of ILP
  • Is the ban on SUP effective ?
  • Ayekpam Shyamsunder's life & works
  • Book release: 'Osman Thambal' at Imphal
  • World Sexual Health Day celebrated in NE
  • Manipur Tech Univ: top at India Hackathon
  • Insomnia :: Poem
  • Change - Inside Out!
  • Biological control in agriculture #2
  • Nearest-to-home posting of teachers policy
  • Addressing shortage of teachers
  • Ibudhou Thangjing Haraoba #6 :: Gallery
  • Ancient Manipur kingdom and Brahmanism
  • Teachers' role in multicultural North East
  • Regarding closing 34 Assam govt schools
  • mPharma is revolutioning access to medicine
  • Asking to believe as we receive
  • 10 years of TPC: Success collectively shared
  • Significance of observing Teachers' Day
  • Krishna Janma @ ISKCON :: Gallery
  • Growing support globally to end HIV medicine
  • Teachers' Day & My Rumbling Thoughts
  • Soibam Bindeshori : Indian Prime Icon Award
  • Can't public figures drink & dance
  • Climate emergency
  • Jumping ship trademark of state's politicians
  • Switching side from JD (U) to BJP
  • Sit-in for Meetei ST @ Kongba :: Gallery
  • Meira Rally against Drug Traffic #2 :: Gallery
  • 57th Hunger Marchers' Day #2 :: Gallery
  • Reception of Linthoi Chanambam :: Gallery
  • Jiribam Train station [15 Jun] :: Gallery
  • Haipou Jadonang - Martyr Day :: Gallery
  • 13 August observed by CSOs :: Gallery
  • Mirabai Chanu: gold @ Commonwealth Game
  • Rules of English Pronunciation : Download
  • Sub-Syllables in English : Book Download