TODAY -

Ningol-chak-kouba
( Sisters Day )

By: N Mangi Devi *

On the second day of Hiyangei (Sukla Dwitiya of Kartik month) - Oct. to Nov. of every year the festival known as Bhagni Bhojan in other parts of India but in Manipur it is better known as Ningol -Chakkouba (grand feast arranged for sisters). We can say as sisters day - the great festivity of the sisters of each and every family of Manipur.

Even though this festival is observed for one day only it bears a significant impact on the Manipur society since it has been go together with the festival of Mera-Hou-Chongba.

According to Skanda Puran Vaishnav Khanda, sister of Yamaraj, Jamuna called her brother Yamaraj for a feast with her. Likewise in Meitreipak-Manipur this system was introduced as in 33 B.C. by a different Manipuri myths. Laisana wife of Nongda Lairen Pakhangba called her brother Poreiton for a feast. Thus such convention had been in existence for many years.

But during the reign of Shri Chandrakriti Maharaja K.C.S.I, a change was made out that instead of going by the brothers to the houses of sisters, the brother, the then king called all sisters to his palace for the grand feast. The reason might be due to difficulties and inconveiences of the king going to the sister's place.

Thus from that time onwards Bhagnibhojan or Ningol-Chakkouba has been going on every year and it has become a festival for the sisters (Ningols) and is magnified as a big festival since all sorts of people male and female, young and old join together and enjoy the day jubliantly.

Of course this festival bears a good meaning of love between brothers and sisters and signifies the love core of the families. After the meals the parents and brothers present gifts whatever they can to the daughters, and sisters who in turn bless them all for happiness and prosperity for the whole year to come. It is believed that the offences to the sisters (Ningols) is a bad omen for the family.



Now-a-days this festival is observed in a bigger way and in a solemn manner by social organisations at a suitable place by inviting the sisters of other communities and tribes of Manipur and thus it becomes an important occassion to create a mutual love and understanding among different tribes and communities inhibiting in Manipur. This type of attitude of the festival should be retained at any cost for maintaining a good atmosphere of living together, peace and harmony of the people of Manipur.

It is appropriate to note the importance of the Mera-Hou Chongba festival of the main tribes ofManipur under the patronage of the Meitei Ningthou or Ningthem of the earlier times. One should know that Manipur even though small has been inhabited by different types of communities from immemorial times.

The largest community is known as Meitei mainly inhabited in the valley whereas different communities of tribes inhabited in and around the hills ofManipur. The main known tribes are Tangkhul, Kabui, Mar, Thadou, Paitei, Anal, Mao, Maram, Maring, Kuki, Waiphei, Zou, Simte, Gangte, Kom, Kharam Chothei, Aimol, Lusai, Moyon, Khongjai, Koireng, Thangal etc. and there are other lesser known tribes. At present the Government ofManipur recognised 33 main tribes and the nine dialects to be studied in the schools.

It may not be out of place to mention something about the origin of Mera-Hou-Chongba Festival that had been observed during the month Mera (October) every year from the days of monarchial rule in Manipur.

During those days the Meitei King {Ningthou) was all in all and extremely powerful. His duty is to perform in actions all the wishes of his subject (prajas). That is why the king is known as Ningthou or Ningthem.

All the hill tribes used to come down and pay whatever products available from their respective lands to the king {Ningthou) as tributes on this particular month of Mera and they all together observed the big amusement function like dance, song, martial arts along with the nobles of the Meitei and show their valiant action and expressed happiness among themselves that has been known as MERA-HA U-CHONGBA.

On this festival all tribes dressed up with their beautiful dress and decorated their heads with amazing headwear and it had-been performed at the suitable maidan at Kangla campus upto the time of taken over Manipur by the British in 1891.

This festival is the festival of love and merry-making between different tribes from the hills and the people in the valley. It is mainly the festival ofhill tribes held once in a year in the month of Mera. The arrangement of this festival was entrusted to Hao-Macha Loisang (Tribal office). The manager of the Hao-Macha Loisang in consultation with the Iambus (Chiefs of the tribes) arranged for their stay and fooding during the days of the festival.

In early times during the reign of the king every chief of the tribe indicated the names of the tribe and the names of the tributed article of the last year. Thus a good self introduction and the display of the products of their respective lands were made known to the king. This kind of convention is no more due to the factor of social changes.

Now-a-days this festival has been performing with much enthusiam by different social organisations at different places as selected by the organising committees. There is grand feast and exchange of presents among the hill tribes and the people of the valley and merry making and thanks giving are being observed.

This festival has also been observed at the state level through the patronage of the Government of Manipur and it has been declared as the state holiday. Thus this festival bears the significance of unity and love and peace and harmony among the people of Manipur.


* N Mangi Devi wrote this book entitled "Festival of Manipur" . This article was webcasted on April 23rd 2010.


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