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Heigru-Hidongba festival of Manipur

Heigru-Hidongba festival of Manipur
By: Waikhom Damodar Singh/The Sangai Express


The Rowers (Hihonbas) before the ceremony 'Heigru Hidongba' is a socio-religious ceremony performed every year at Sagolband, Imphal. It is actually a ceremony which exhibits the firm devotion of the descendants of the Great Grand Mantri Anandashai of Lord Bejoy Govindajee.

It is functioned with the famous offering of Heigru (Amalaki) fruit to the Lord on the 11th day of Langban month accompanied with an exciting contest of 'Hiyang Tanaba' (Boat race in the sacred Thangapat Moat of Sagolband, Bejoy Govinda).

This ceremony was introduced and established by the renowned Mantri Ananda Shai with the grace and favour of the State ruler Bhagya Chandra Maharaj in the middle of the 18th Century AD after the installation of Lord Bejoy Govinda and Lord Shri Govinda.

Heigru Hidongba puja is dedicated only to Lord Bejoy Govinda under the sole management of the descendants of the pious ancient Mantri in co-operation with the local citizens.

This ceremony may be briefly analysed as follows:
i) Exist of the sacred image/idol of the Lord out of the sacred temple (Mani Mandir) to the sacred boat (Khunet-hi) in the early part of the day.
ii) Offering of the Heigru Pareng (Garland) to the Lord in the most solemn and devoted manner by the priests for the bliss and welfare of the country and specially for the .emancipation of the worshippers or devotees.
iii) Graceful boat journey of the Lord throughout the length of the moat to receive offerings from hundreds of thousands of spectators lining on both the banks of the moat and to bless them with showers of flowers and fruits from the hands of the 'Thakurs' and then taking of divine Umpire's position by the Lord on a spot in the canal beyond the finishing point of the game field.
iv) Boat race between two well recognized teams, red and yellow and entertainments of teams and distinguished spectators at the cost of the committee and team-captains Tengmaileppas.
v) Retreat of the Lord into the Mani-Mandir after the boat race in the midst of noisy shouts and singing of devotional songs.

Full Pala recital in attendance during the sacred ride. The above items fulfill the desire and wish of the worshippers and the Managing committee inspiring and imparting spirit of devotion and loyalty to the Lord tempered with a strong sense of National heroism and freedom.

Plainly speaking, 'Heigru Hidongba' is an anniversary ceremony performed in the shape of worship and game to commemorate the mysterious way of victory by our heroic fore-fathers over the invincible hoards of foreign aggressors through the mercy of the Lord on the one hand and unity of over small nation for freedom and independence under the guidance of God-like heroes and leaders on the other hand.

History tells how this small kingdom had been overrun and ransacked by the relentless swarms of Burmese aggressors and invaders; how our kinsmen had been ruthlessly massacred and tortured by the foreign aggressors during the ancient days and how the noble hearted king Bhagya Chandra could avail of the timely friendship with the Ahom king and how he could collect and call up his own people under the advice and command of his venerable Royal Uncle Mantri Ananda Shai.

History tells us how Lord Shri Govinda came at the critical moment to the rescue of the king and his people - how the king glorified mercy of the Lord by installing Lord's own images in his kingdom -how the great grand mantri had been rewarded and honoured by the pious and upright king and his loyal subjects.

One is therefore to know that Heigru Hidongba is a ceremony based on this historical truth. It is also a ceremony to signify the symbol of unity that was once deeply rooted amongst our heroic and loyal forefathers for their struggles for the nation for peace and freedom.

The crowd cheering the rowers. It has also a great meaning in the field of moral science and political philosophy. The more we observe and study this public function the more we will learn about the heart and soul of our ancestors who sacrificed their most precious lives without the least grumbling for the freedom and peace of, not only of our own people, but also for the people of the neighboring kingdoms.

'Then, you children of Mother Manipur why do you look so sorry and downcast? Your way to glory was ever opened by your noble hearted forefathers. Your success is ever assured by the Heavenly Father.

Therefore, move onward with the Lord within your heart and with the footprints of your ancestor in your eyes' - this is the greatest moral teaching or lesson that we may actually learn from our Heigru Hidongba ceremony held every year as an indispensable State function.

Click here for more Heigru Hidongba Pictures


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