TODAY -

The great Mera Haochongba festival

Rongreisek Yangsorang *

Mera Houchongba , re-affirming close bond and ties between hill and valley people at Kangla on 18 October 2013
Mera Houchongba , re-affirming close bond and ties between hill and valley people at Kangla on 18 October 2013
Pix - Gnet Cyber Cafe



On the 8th July, 1861, Colonel McCulloch, the Political Agent in Manipur wrote to the Governor General in Council of British India, thus "In the month of Mera it was agreed that an expedition should proceed to the Angami Hills: I would urge it".

So, a solitary word Mera conceived by the Political Agent to mean the season of autumn in Manipur is encouraging and exhilarating too, for which every Manipuri is supposed to be proud of.

The festival of Mera Haochongba which occurs in October every year as a one day event is for heart-warming and recalling the past glory of the land.

The pre-harvesting season is filled with ecstatic joy and the bounty of beautiful scenes in the hills all round the valley in Manipur which has irresistible charm with the starry heaven overhead stretching in an unending expanse in which man has the feeling of elation and elevation amidst such beautiful things at the time when leaves change their colours with climate becoming milder.

The season is synonymous with the festival itself heralding peace and prosperity.

In R. Brown's version, "The festival called Hawchongba, in October, lasts for only 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 speedily, and remain so as long as possible.

The hill-men indulge in feats of strength before the Raja, such 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 the cows, buffaloes, dogs, cats, etc.

The flesh is dried and preserved on purpose for their meat." Besides Mera Haochong-ba, other festivals were celebrated in the royal palace.

According to Prof. J.Roy, Pamheiba ascended the throne under the title of Gharib Niwaz in 1714 A.D. "All Naga Chiefs were invited at the coronation ceremony. The ministers and officials of Manipur received the Naga chiefs, made friendship and intimacy with them. The Raja entertained the Naga Chiefs with good feasts and wine."

At Kangla, King Khagemba (Khagingamba) in 1631 A.D. sacrificed 100 buffaloes, 100 goats, 100 sheep, 100 cows, 100 ganders, 100 ducks, 100 doves, 100 hens, 100 pigs and 100 dogs alongwith a variety of fruits and flowers to seek the blessing of gods including that of Koubru Hill on the north of Imphal valley or appease them (CK, p38).

It is plausible that the ceremony must have been performed like a festival with the participation of hill chiefs; for such a huge number of cattle and fowls were butchered at the palace. Not only this sacrifice, from time to time, a number of tigers and leopards caught by the hill men were brought to the royal palace as a token of love and respect to the king. Many of such instances had not been recorded, though.

A score of valley friends who are highly educated will reciprocate the possibility that animals brought to the royal palace were for meat. From all this account, it is apparent that all of the valley people were once meat eaters with wine as their essential daily stuff.

Only in the first half of the 18th century, dhal and vegetables had taken the place of meat and wine as their common diet. It is felt no one is hurt by it.

Another belief is that there was no evidence of untouchability persisting between the people of the hills and plain in ancient Manipur because of the fact that all communities ate together in the palace or elsewhere during festival seasons, mainly in Haochongba.

It was an amusement enjoyed by the royalists alongwith their hill brethren, and was likely that they ate meat and drank wine profusely together in merry-making. The hill-plain relation was cordial is certain. When a wandering fakir set his foot at the soil of the land, everything had changed shattering the composite Manipuri society of varied culture, custom and tradition.

When the Hindu way of observance of custom in its entirety became a compulsion for the plain people, the hill people had distanced themselves from their plain brethren. Responding to the call of the Lord, they had embraced Christianity in phase manners out of their own will.

Even then, religion cannot be the basis for human development and growth but reason and modern science alone will be.

The writer is driven into thinking about the era of bad feeling in India when Harijans were segregated from the society and the narrower sense (If a Shudra has all the qualities of a Brahmin, can we not call him a Brahmin? The answer is "no") are all the inherent evils of the society.

It is all a sad thing that schools and hostels were started for the segregated Harijan boys and girls, and separate wells were dug for them who previously had to walk many miles to get water and dispensaries set up exclusively for them. What is irrational at the worst of the society is to debase man by man as unclean or untouchable.

Say for example, a Hindu headman refused to drink water from the same well a Harijan man drank, and a village barber refused to shave and cut the hair of a Harijan boy and moreover mixing with them was considered irreligious activities. All these can be treated as vanities of the old era in India even if such act of treatment still continues unabated in many parts of the country.

It is on the basis of several incidences one has experienced all this time that some of those who are educated and have cultivated mind among the plain people are found to have realized factors which may cause serious misunderstanding between the people of hills and plain.

But those of conservative or orthodox families in thousands are against what are thought to be normal human values and dignity.

Alarmingly, there are still many people in the old habit of practising untouchability though various social organizations based at Imphal are saying such practices have stopped. The old practice being the root cause of the present turmoil in the state, intellectuals, leaders of students' unions and politicians must come forward to cleanse the dirts of the society.

At the moment, liberal outlook or positive attitude of man towards his fellow being is indispensable for drawing a community closer to that of him, and the chapter of untouchability or whatever it may be, should be sealed forever in this age of reason and advanced science.

In one's realms of the imagination, there will be total touchability in the foreseeable future, otherwise no one can see far in the valley of Manipur because of the mountains all around. The valley can't stand alone without the hills and so on.

Therefore, without grading high and low, rapid development of the hill areas of Manipur is the main agenda now to ensure and strengthen the integrity of the state.

In resurgent Manipuri society, everyone must learn now to live like brothers and sisters helping each other in the hospitals, workplaces, shopping complexes, offices, schools and colleges in the state as in the era of good feeling, and the remaining obstacle, being ritual purification and racialism only.

For it, every effort should be made to create an atmosphere in which the hill people won't feel looked down, ashamed, embarrassed and exploited, without also forgetting the existence of numerous small tribes who are the branches of Manipuri society.

The propaganda, that all is not well in the north; all those in the east are hostile to the valley; and the south is boiling and has also become a killing field, will only aggravate situation rather than help solve myriad of problems confronting the state.

Looking back to the ancient past, some people may have doubt over the motive of celebration of Mera Haochongba as to whether it was meant for collection of tributes from the hill chiefs or an enticement for hill people to seep back to animism having no bearing in the present era. It is not.

Till today, it has its own great relevance and significance for the sole purpose of building hill-plain relationship on a strong foot-hold. In the 70s, functionaries of a hill village, to which the writer belongs, used to tell about it fondly and their interaction with fellow chiefs in the festival.

It may have been considered outdated too, but exponents of social harmony and those who are deep-rooted in their native land will always applaud it in no uncertain term.

Lastly, it is the only one of its kind which can bring each and every community together to a common platform. Of all the Manipuri games and amusements like hockey on foot, boat-racing on the moat in front of the king's palace, etc., the festival which has full participation of hill chiefs is the great Mera Haochongba festival held in October every year.

It shall continue with an improvement in its style of celebration as the symbol of love and amity between all communities, and it is the only festival unconnected with religious rites and rituals congenial for Christian participation.

Related Articles on Mera Houchongba




* Rongreisek Yangsorang wrote this article for The Sangai Express .
He also writes to e-pao.net and has an exclusive page here. This article was first webcasted on November 09th, 2006



* 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
  • The Great June 18 Uprising :: Sub-Site
  • Zeliangrong settlement at Heibokching #1
  • Mind Mapping
  • Virtual Assistant as career option
  • Environmental bio pollution in Manipur
  • Parenting - A challenge in modern time
  • From June 18, 2001 to June 18, 2019
  • Revolt by dissidents is a lesson for CM
  • The Great June 18 Uprising :: Flash
  • Bishnupriya Manipuri: Identity : Book
  • The Rain-Clad Skies of Imphal : Poem
  • Healthy ageing & screening tests
  • Adaptability to quality will boost Education
  • Greencane Industries
  • Staring at political & financial crisis
  • Indo-Myanmar ops on rebel camps
  • Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy) #4
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • The Story of Two Incidents in One State
  • Cry of a Dying River - 80 : Poem
  • Combating climate change
  • Idea of selling seized liquor
  • Mutum Somorjit : Passed IIT Main/Advance
  • Chak-tangba, Overdraft & Game of Throne
  • Poumai Paoki Wrestling #1: Gallery
  • AEKo_Igi wari :: Seireng
  • Pettigrew contribution to Tribal practice #1
  • Man in White (MIW)
  • India Influence Report 2019
  • Skin care essentials for dry skin
  • Rejoinder to NDPP :: NPF [14 Jun]
  • Far removed from Cong Mukt slogan
  • Taming the traffic
  • Tolloi, Ukhrul :: 360 Panorama View
  • Heritage Park #1 : Gallery
  • Daniel Chabungbam in 7 best NE Journalist
  • Bamboo as a green gold bioresource
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Her Fantasy :: Poem
  • NDPP communique on NPF President
  • Pedagogy for 21st Century Teaching
  • Media Sensitization Workshop on Hepatitis
  • Taking back to 1999: Of overdraft & politics
  • The battle for the Throne
  • Lai Lamthokpa, Thangjing #3: Gallery
  • Invisible workforce: The domestic worker
  • Manipur - An Ethnic Dilemma #2
  • Contemporary issues in Mizoram : Book
  • Modern village administration #2
  • Mitigating hunger is only choice of a poor
  • Digitisation & Cyber Security Training
  • Disturbing dissent within the BJP
  • Id-ul-Fitr @ Hatta #2 : Gallery
  • An evening with Manipuri dance
  • Finally some semblance of awareness
  • Nationalism in Manipuri literature #3
  • Sail Away With Me :: Poem
  • World Music Day at Yaiskul, Imphal
  • Selected candidates to the Global Shapers
  • India-Myanmar conf: Better late than never
  • Thangjing Lai Haraoba : Beyond optics
  • Irungbam Padmabati : Khunung Eshei
  • A tribute to Arambam Somorendra
  • In quest of green vibes :: Poem
  • Workshop: Livelihood & Social Protection
  • Catering service as career option
  • Not yet an open revolt but not all well
  • Something more needed
  • Explain 'misleading' news, tells local daily
  • Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy) #3
  • World Ocean Day 2019
  • Post election scenario : Manipur
  • ICC World Cup under the English Summer
  • Cry of a downtrodden State :: Poem
  • Yaithibi Loukol- violation of Land Act
  • Looking at politics of peace talk
  • Laija - Film Scenes #2 : eRang
  • Government Of India Stratagem
  • Love at Sunset :: Poem
  • Tips to make blood testing easy
  • IGNTU Seminar: Indo-Myanmar Relation
  • Budding Malwares in Manipur University
  • Aimol Baptist: Felicitation Program
  • Political uncertainty in Biren govt
  • Tangkhuls in traditions of Manipur #2
  • Imphal Jamboree- Improving state of youth
  • Zonel Sougaijam : Facebook Hall of Fame
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Stop Station construction @Sagoltongba
  • Diploma at Don Bosco School, Kalimpong
  • Condemn firing incident at NDPP Sec Gen
  • The art of shuffling, reshuffling
  • Of our identity
  • Id-ul-Fitr @ Hatta #1 : Gallery
  • Tree plantation by Journalists : Gallery
  • Manipur textiles & handicrafts export
  • Phou-su Phou-su khol :: Poem
  • Nationalism in Manipuri literature #2
  • Training on Cyber Security
  • World Environment Day : Go Green Call
  • Environment Day and Manipur
  • Bamboo Cooking Competition : Gallery
  • Exploring Indigenous Knowledge : Book
  • Traditional environmental ethics
  • Air pollution : Focal theme of WED
  • Career options in Optometry
  • World Environment Day at Kumbi
  • I Want to Make Dingko Biopic : Shahid
  • Kwatha: Aayush to play an army officer
  • NSCN (K) must take NCA path: Tatmadaw
  • Cabinet to be reshuffled this month: CM
  • Dzukou valley declared 'plastic-free zone'
  • Modi will resolve Naga issue.. N'land BJP
  • Manipur - An Ethnic Dilemma #1
  • he UpaL :: Seireng
  • Cry of a Dying River - 79 :: Poem
  • The Killing Fields 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • World Environment Day, 2019
  • Time to 'beat air pollution'
  • Free Heart Scan at SKY Hospital
  • Nagaland CM on World Environment Day
  • 50 percent absence at Cabinet meet
  • Introspecting self for good of society
  • Lai Lamthokpa, Thangjing #2: Gallery
  • BEHS interacted with Guv: Gallery
  • India's Forest policy 2018 & concerns
  • Khoidajei- best Music Video Award @ SIFF
  • A constellation of Five :: Poem
  • A moral obligation for CSOs in election
  • BEHS, Motbung, students tour Raj Bhavan
  • Job @JCRE Skill Solutions
  • Ghost of 2001 not yet exorcised
  • Concern for a clean environment
  • Paoki Paddy Festival @Purul #2: Gallery
  • puNsi IceL :: Seireng
  • Meiraba : U-19 singles at All India Ranking
  • Modern village administration #1
  • Schoolchildren in the Park :: Poem
  • Tree Plantation at RIMS, Lamphelpat
  • First suspect always the husband
  • Gudui Ngai @ Kakhulong #2 : Gallery
  • Nationalism in Manipuri literature #1
  • Rain compelling ritual of Meiteis
  • Nehru to Modi: Profiles of PM : Book
  • Heart that reserved for destitute kids
  • Summer beauty tips & tricks for busy mom
  • The unintended fear psychosis
  • Urmila Shagolsem : Miss India : Gallery
  • Draft Indian Forest Act & impact on Manipur
  • Tobacco in Manipur and COTPA
  • End victimization of Research Scholars
  • Another opportunity missed for Congress
  • Failing to fear insecurities is strength
  • World No Tobacco Day observed
  • Striking regional balance : 2 from NE
  • RIMS again: Why ?
  • Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy) #2
  • June Calendar for Year 2019 :: Tools
  • Heat wave advisory : Medical Directorate
  • Cry of a Dying River - 78 :: Poem
  • 1st Sports Event at Bengaluru
  • Election-Politics-Parties & Govt
  • 'Know Your Assam Rifle' violate UN Protocol
  • Modi in second stint as PM
  • BJP, Liberal & Mayang Settler in time of CAB
  • Amur falcon reaches breeding site in China
  • Tangkhuls in traditions of Manipur #1
  • Sinnaiba, Akhul, Amom :: eMing
  • Keibul Lamjao National Park : Gallery
  • Rise & Fall of Cachari Kingdom #2
  • Industry try to co-opt World No Tobacco Day
  • A new economic policy of Manipur
  • Gossips & rumours around 303 of BJP
  • Turmoil within the Congress
  • Heal the wound before it rots
  • Lai Lamthokpa, Thangjing #1: Gallery
  • How Modi & Shah decimated Congress
  • Public health Care :: Book Review
  • Finding Elopement :: Poem
  • Function of Nampou of Zeliangrongs #2
  • Public Health (MPH) at IIPH- Shillong
  • Spelling out pratical plans
  • Vocational Programs at BSDU, Jaipur
  • Injecting civic senses to citizens
  • Political development : Impact on Congress
  • Gudui Ngai @ Kakhulong #1 : Gallery
  • Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy) #1
  • Excercise of adult franchise in LS Poll
  • Voices less heard - women candidates
  • Paramedical courses as career options #2
  • Manipur Traffic : A game of fast & furious
  • Rev William Pettigrew & Modern Education
  • Cheirao-chingkaba #3 : Gallery
  • Old-Kuki group by Linguistic Survey in 1904
  • A constellation of Five :: Poem
  • A free stopover at Amsterdam
  • Standing in queue for exam form at MU
  • Questions on the ceasefire coverage
  • Paoki Paddy Festival @Purul #1: Gallery
  • Status of Naga-Kuki relation in Manipur #2
  • There is no 3rd option between true & false
  • Global Warming- Climate change & effect
  • Summertime Blues :: Poem
  • Blocked heart valve treated without surgery
  • Reality of Education system in Manipur
  • Laichombam Sapana @ JNMDA : Gallery
  • Rise & Fall of Cachari Kingdom #1
  • Modi once again- Reading Election result
  • Function of Nampou of Zeliangrongs #1
  • Zhaoshomai, indigenous religion of Liiyai
  • Fashion by Kumarjit Laishram #2 : Gallery
  • Dams as a death trap in Manipur
  • Raju Bista (Kangpoki) is MP of Darjeeling
  • Pakhangba Cheng-hongba #1 : Gallery
  • Repeal AFSPA enacted on 22 May 1958
  • Future Hindu Culture of Meitei is magificient
  • Poumai Purul Paoki Fest : Gallery
  • AEgi KoHcY :: Seireng
  • 2019 HSLC Exam Toppers :: Gallery
  • HSLC Toppers share thoughts, aspirations
  • HSLC :: Top 25 Rank Holders
  • HSLC :: Subject Topper
  • HSLC :: Statistical Abstract
  • HSLC :: Full Roll No Listing
  • HSLC :: Compartmental
  • Mukna Kangjei Tournament : Gallery
  • Phayeng Koubru Haraoba #4 : Gallery
  • ELVEEGO : Top 10 Promising Companies
  • Hr Sec Exam 2019 Toppers #2: Gallery
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2019 #2: Gallery
  • Purnima Moirangthem : 5th in Commerce
  • Jiribam Bazaar :: 360 Panorama View
  • Thailand Princess @Kangla #2 :: Gallery
  • Kadigampou, Akeng :: eMing
  • Ningombam Tampha :: 3rd in ISC Exam
  • Cheiraoba Chak Katpa #2 :: Gallery
  • M Diana: National Women Social Award
  • Urmila Shagolsem: Miss India 2019 Finalist
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2019 : Download
  • SPONSORED ADS