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E-Pao! EI - Love hidden in Ningol Chakkouba

Love hidden in Ningol Chakkouba
Oinam Anand *

Mera thagi Sanarei Maraksida/
Sana Leibak Manipurgi Ningol pumnamak/
Harao-minoka loinana/
Mapam Lamdam Pangjaba tha


(Amidst the blooming marigolds of the October month,
all the married daughters of this land of jewels, Manipur,
visited their natal home again with smiles adorn in their lips).


These are the lines of a very beautiful and melodious song signifying the importance of a day in a year for the daughters and sisters.

It is "Ningol Chakouba" day inviting the married daughters to dine together by their parents and brothers. It is a day for the women of Manipur old and young to go back again for at least some hours to their respective homes where they have got their roots but separated when they became a member of another family.

This festive day is also well chosen in the autumn season. There is no other words more beautiful than this line of the song sung by Late Aheibam Shyam Singh which paints the beauty of the autumn season in Manipur like this "Saratki Ritu Mapungyai Mengna Chatkhi Mera tha, Eengna Lak-ee Hiyangei" (In the middle of the autumn season, the Mera month goes away softly and comes quietly the Hiyangei (November)".

Generally, the autumn in Manipur is rather short. Out of the six seasons found in Manipur, the rainy season holds out its hand and embrace this State for a longer period than any other seasons. Rainy season occupies the State from May-June upto the first half of October month.

Then the winter readies to cover its cold blanket over the entire hills and valley from the second week of November. Poor autumn in Manipur has only got about thirty to forty days to live and bloom.

But it is made richer in these short days by the presence of the flowers like roses, lilies, and marigolds that peep from their buds with smiles to catch the breezy air. There is balmy coolness during the early mornings and again in the evening when the air feels cool in the skin.

This is the season when man engaged in harvest in the fields.

But in the evening lamps are found fixed atop the poles in every courtyard and lights of the Dipavali visit every house. It is one day in this season which is a very special day.

It is the day, the daughters and sisters who have left their natal home for their settled life in the house of their husbands and in-laws are invited for a feast together by their parents and brothers. Where can one find such type of union of hearts?

It is rarely or not altogether found in any other society except in Meetei Society.

It is indeed true that love is a mystery that finds its place in our hearts. It is a miracle, isn't it? It is also a law of Nature. Human beings always hunt for love and want to be loved. Finding love in life may be one of the most romantic things to happen in life.

It is the love of the man in her life which enables a girl to snap ties with her parental home, from his parents, brothers and sisters and ties the nuptial knot to the man of her life. At the same time, her relationship with her place of birth is mystical, a psychic umbilical cord that refuses to snap by the tug of her married life in her new home.

Ningol onwards to her home for the Chakkouba!


She has left her parents' home physically but the home where she was born never leaves her . This is the speciality on the day of 'NINGOL CHAKKOUBA'.

As 'the day' comes closer and closer, the Imphal city, the dirtiest lady of the world is occupied herself with activities from morning till sunset.

In the name of development her face is being darkened with scars of pot-holes. Dusts and dirts pile over the streets here and there. Barricades erected on the roads for lying pipes for sewage blocking the flow of the traffic.

But the pathetic scenes that is witnessed everywhere are the system of the traffic flow. People, specially the women folk all over the State converge in this Capital city to buy items of their choice. The want of space for both the sellers and buyers are felt.

The problem is compounded by the street vendors who occupy the footpaths and the vehicles that dare to drive violating the traffic rules specially put for this day. And more, the street hawkers or footpath vendors have a reason for impediments in the free flow of traffic or obstructions to the movements on the footpaths.

It is free for all the sellers to sell and buyers to buy. Nobody cares about it. Even laws seem to have put the stamp of approval for these days. Such is the significance and values attached to 'Ningol Chakkouba'.

While writing the various dimension of love and nostalgia associated with this 'special day' certain fears have also crept in along with the coming of this day. The festival is for the women through all the splendour and colour in the role of wife, mother and daughters as it is closely related to customs and rituals of our society.

Where once love and remembrance of their childhood days among the brothers and sisters dominates in this day in the heart of both the host and guest, it is slowly replaced by the word 'Dakhina' now. It becomes mandatory as well as obligatory on the part of the sisters and brothers to exchange gifts as a part of this festival.

Each and every year this day is being translated from emotional bond and meeting of the hearts to showdown of riches to the world both by the host and the guest of the day.

This is the current scenario, a bizarre one , and the malaise of the 'Dakhina' has assumed an epidemic form, a kind of race of the fools that has increased the strain drawn in the hearts of those brothers and sisters who cannot afford or comply with the demands.

Our young and enlightened sisters would raise to the occasion to fight this evil which tends to sour the relation of both brothers and sisters.

Love cannot be scaled with the volume of gifts that one lover gives to his or her beloved.


* Oinam Anand writes regularly for The Sangai Express. This article was webcasted on November 11, 2007.


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