TODAY -

Mera Houchongba festival

Budha Kamei *

Mera Houchongba , re-affirming close bond and ties between hill and valley people at Konung :: 8 Oct 2014
Mera Houchongba , re-affirming close bond and ties between hill and valley people at Konung on 8 Oct 2014 :: Pix - Bullu Raj



Mera Houchongba is an important festival of Manipur. It has been celebrating for quite long time as a mark of remembrance of the solidarity among the different ethnic groups in the Manipur state and to give more strength in the process of further "consolidation of the idea of Manipuri nationalism."

It is a historical fact that the population of Manipur is made up on the basic foundation of pluralism. From the ground reality, it can be stated that right from the ancient time "some kind of autonomy is enjoyed by every ethnic people in their own way; it is also accepted by the king of Manipur as central authority. However, in spite of all these political structure people have full loyalty to the supreme authority of the king. Therefore, to show their loyalty to the king and to mark oneness to the growth of nationalism in the state," this festival is observed in a large scale way.

According to E. W. Dun, "This festival in October lasts for one day; it is a gathering of the hill tribes under the Manipuri Government, and is a curious sight on account of the great number of different tribes assembled, with their curious dress and weapons, differing from each other in feature and language, but all unanimous in one particular, to get drunk as speedity, and remain so as long, as possible.

The hill men indulge in feasts of strength before the Raja, as carrying heavy weights, etc. They also indulge in war dances and sham fights. The sports of the day conclude with a feast, at which they are regaled with the flesh of cows, buffaloes, dogs, cats etc., which may have died in the valley. The flesh is dried and preserved on purpose for this feast."

Madhav and Khelchandra wrote, "A specific rite, namely Mera Sanduba is performed on the 10th day of Mera in which Shandang (bibos frontalis) is offered to the Nungoibi Lairema and it is celebrated with the offerings being given to the hill peoples."

This festival begun right from the time of Nongda Lairen Pakhangba in the first Century C.E. Before 1891, this festival was performed at the ground, Lampak situated to western direction from the Kanglasa and south-western from the Nungoibi in the Kangla Fort.

Every year, in the month of Mera, which falls in September/October, Hou Chongba festival is celebrated, in which all the village Chiefs or Khullakpas and peoples from the surrounding hill areas fully take part.

The main function of Mera Hou Chongba festival is the exchange of gifts between the King and village Chiefs and performance of cultural show and sports. It is indeed a big festival, so, arrangement for accommodation and feast is made under the direct supervision of the king; the office of tribal affairs (Hao Macha Loisang) is given the whole responsibility of this festival.

The festival is ended by a grand feast; food consists of curry of dried fish, cows, buffaloes, dogs, etc. The hill men are allowed to take meat as they like and enjoy the drink of their choice. The festival is one of the greatest in Manipur which is attended by all the hill tribes of Manipur.

Lastly, Mera Hou Chongba is an important festival; it does maintain and strengthen the harmonious relationship among the peoples of Manipur.


* Budha Kamei wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on December 09, 2014.


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