Gaan - Ngai, traditional festival of Kabui
- Part 2 -

Dr. Heera Malangmei Kabui *

 Gaan Ngai Celebrations around Imphal :: January 09, 2012
Gaan Ngai Celebrations around Imphal in January 2012 :: Pix - Jimmy Leivon

Ngai-Dai (Great festival): Second day of the festival is called Ngai-Dai,which means the great Festival. It is also known as Tamchan Ngai.In the early morning Gaanpi Gaandai (Senior most male of Khanchuzou and Tunapi Gandai (Senior most female of Luchu) bring their best contribution of eatable and home brewed rice beer (zou-ngao/zou dui) to khangchu.These presentations or contributions of eatable and drinks are generously contributed for the festival and such contributions are known as Tamcha.

On this day, parents or family members of bereaved person present the Tamcha in memory of deceased person to the Khangchu.This presentation or contribution is known as Thei Tamcha. One of the Banjas from Pei member pronounces the goodwill of the contributions in the name of Haipou Raagang that are presented by males and females and bereaved family members.

In the afternoon,elder members of Khangchu with young boys go to every house of male and female who brought presentations (Tamcha) to Khangchu and pronounce appreciations and gratitude in the name of GOD on behalf of Khangchu. A traditional dance programme called Tamchan Laam is organized to (i) the Pei kai ,(ii) Kengjapui Kaibang and (iii) Gaanchang Kaibang by the girls only.

Tuna – Gaan Ngai: Tuna Gaan Ngai is the third day of Gaan Ngai,which is the festival for boys and girls of Khangchu and Luchu. On this day, Laamreng is organized by male and female members from Khangchu and Luchu as per roster as scheduled by the Khangchu in according to the seniority. Laamreng is a traditional dance programme to raise fund for the Khangchu and to nurture dances and songs.

Laamreng may be withdrawn if there is occurrence of Khangbon Kadi mei on this day.Khangbon Kadimei is a farewell or promotional dance program presented by male and female dormitories to the Khangbons who are promoted to Pei junior members called Gaanchang. If there is such a situation that Laamreng, Khangbon Kadimei and Thei Kadimei occurred .Then Laamreng is withdrawn or put off for the next Gaan Ngai.

But Khangbon Kadimei is compulsorily performed and Thei Kadimei is performed at end of the festival. Thei Kadimei is the last communion of living and death as belief by the Kabui Community. Ancestors say that after Gaan Ngai any person passed away his/her departed soul does not leave the family till next Gaan Ngai.

It is a common belief of Kabui Community that living and death share the last festivity together during Gaan Ngai. The grave is kept clean and beautified on this day and traditional dishes, drinks, fruits, sweetmeats, floral tribute are offered to the departed soul.

In the afternoon hour, all the members of Khangchu and Luch present memorable dances and traditional farewell songs for the departed soul. Hence this is known as the last celebration for the departed soul. It is a belief of Kabui community that all human beings are created by God irrespective of religions to glorify HIM and after death HE receives HIS Children in His KINGDOM.

In the morning some Khangchu elders make khu-pot, a typical plant having nodes and internodes (Jongtou), and entrust the young boys to hang it to every house of Kabui family. The family fills it local wine and plugs it with cotton. It is a belief of Kabui to prevent the people from outbreak of epidemic diseases. The bamboo like nodes are collected on the sixth day of Gaan Ngai and thrown away outside the village gate by the Pei member.

On this day, some Kabui Villages perform KEKU by all the Pei members and elder women (Kengjaipui). Keku is a fun like activity performed at Khangchu, Luchu and Peikai by elderly males and females who are the members of Pei and Kengjapui Kaibang. In Keku program either one of the male or female members pretended to be a dead person,other members perform a death rituals.

All of a sudden, the dead person rises up from the bed and asks why everyone is weeping and sobbing. The one who is pretended dead says, “I am not dead, I have been to the House of Haipou Raagang seeking His Blessing for Kabui people of this village. By doing the fun activity at Khangchu and Luchu, they collect meat, fish, vegetables and have feast. Keku is performed by few Kabui Villages like Chinikon, Keishamthong etc.

 Gaan Ngai Celebrations around Imphal :: January  2011
Gaan Ngai Celebrations around Imphal in January 2011 :: Pix - Dr. Heera Marangmei

Longruimei or Ngaiba:- The Forth day of Gaan-Ngai is known as Longkumei or Longruimei (Hill trekking) or Ngaiba.Longkumei or Longruimei means Hill or mountain Trekking. Hill trekking is performed by boys, girls and senior members of Khangchu and Luchu in a nearby hill or mountain. On top of the hill or mountain, they look down at their village and praise the scenic beauty of the nature.

On this day, they select Phaakgang (Kings) and Lamalu (Queens) among the boys and girls. Presuming that they are going to get marry. The kings and queens are adorned with Phaaknui (specific type plant leaf) as headgears and other members also wear these headgears. They display their talents like drum beating, singing folksongs, those who are killers of enemies show their war dance, killers of animals like tiger, bears, pythons, wild boars show mighty dance.

Such dances of might and victory are known as Kabaomei. On completion of such care free and joyful activities, they return to the village. Gaakting Tam,a traditional chutney is prepared with boiled pork meat pounded with ginger, garlic, onion, chilli, salt and fermented fish (Ngali) and made into small balls.

They share balls of chutney, boiled pumkin pieces,wine to the all the members of Pei, Khangchu and Luchu young and old alike. In the evening both Khanchu and Luchu members present a dance programmes to the designated Kings and queens whom they have selected. It is commonly said that boys and girls who are graced Phaakgaang Laam in their honour are considered mature enough to tie the love knot. In other words,it is the stage of maturity.

Nap Chanmei Ngai: The Fifth and last day of Gaan-Ngai Festival is known as Nap Chanmei.The concluding evening day of the festival is related with ancestral prayer to the goddesses of wealth, Kambuipui, Charaipui and Kairao by offering pig or fowl liver. The main objective of this function is to call back the wealth which has been wasted during the festival and for the prosperous of coming year.

In the evening, after delicious food,meat curry and other items are prepared in both the Khangchu amd Luchu for their members. Special invitations are made to all the Pei members, Khangchu Pou-Pei, Luchu Pou-Pei, and Senior Members of Khangchu to feast together at Khangchu and female folks at Luchu.

At night before the folksongs competition begins at Luchu, a jolly and kidding traditional songs are sung at courtyard of Khangchu. Folk songs competition between boys and girls is held at Luchu (Girls’ Dormitory).

Raang Patmei: The Sixth Day of Gaan-Ngai is Raang Patmei. Raang Patmei function is performed by Pei members only.Raang means Northern Village gate and Patmei means coming out.Literally Raang Patmei means coming out and gathering at the Northern Village gate. It is also known as Raaren Roumei,.Raang Patmei (Raareng Roumei) may be considered as the part of Festival. Truly it is an important traditional function performed to pantheons of gods and spirits by the village priest not to harm the village people.

On this day Kabui village observes a strict gennas (Neimei), not to venture out in the agricultural fields, jungles and whole night journey etc. are prohibited for fear of untoward happenings until genna is revoked as clean by the Pei member of the village.

At Pei Kai ( Pei Kai =House of Village Authority), a Bu-Kaomei ritual for the village people is performed with a big and fine rooster. This ritual is signifies as calling the stranded souls back home. The rooster meat is cooked properly cooked distributed to every family of the village and small piece is nibbled by each member of the family in acceptance of stranded soul has come again to the individual person and for good health.

We, the Manipur Kabui Union, requests the civil society organisations and any forums of Manipur not to call or impose any sorts of bandh during Gaan Ngai, the festival of the Kabui community, which commences from 19 January 2019. Let us respect and honour one’s customary cultures and festivals to make Manipur a peaceful and rich cultural State.


* Dr Heera Malangmei Kabui wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is president of Manipur Kabui Union
This article was webcasted on January 25 2019.

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