Folklore of Hao communities
- Part 2 -

Yarngam Lunglo *

 Leirum and other item used in a Luhongba ( Marriage ceremony for Meiteis) :: 10th July 2019
Leirum and other item used in a Luhongba as seen on 10th July 2019 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam

The old man said the second event is Lai-Haraoba. During Lai-Horaoba festival, one Tangkhul Shaba presence is a must otherwise the Umang Lai whom they worship stay away from Lai-Haraoba. As a matter of fact the presence of elder brother at Laihaoba is a must so that they can proceed and conclude the Laiharaoba ceremony. Event also shows the relationship of brotherhood between them.

In the third event, he said about 'Haochongba', which occurred during the month of October every year on which days the hill brothers of Naga and valley brothers of Meitei organised a dance festival.

He said 'Haochongba' means the dance of Hao communities. This indicates that both valley Meiteis and Nagas are Hao community.

Recently, I think, the so called Haochongba has been changed to Hauchongba. In connection with this I personally asked some of my Meitei friends why and how did you change the name of the festival from Haochongba to Hauchongba?

According to their opinion they said that the word 'Hao' was a very offensive word. It is used and uttered in a contemptuous way when people get angry with one another like Hao pang, Haothu, so the word Hao has been changed to Hau. Then I asked again. What do you mean by Hau?

To this my friend replied that while dancing, the dancers shout Hau, Hau. That is why we call it Hauchongba. That was our short conversation of how Haochongba change to Hauchongba.

In my opinion no festival is named after a sound, there must be a specific name like 'Thabal Chongba'. Meitei brothers enjoy Thabal Chongba during Yaoshang festival which is generally celebrated during full moon time. So a festival name should refer to a specific name. This is my perception. I believe what the old man said to us is true. Hence from the statement given by the old man, it is Haochongba not Hauchongba.

Well it is true, before the Hao tribes embraced Christianity we were indeed uncivilised. The way our ancestors wore dresses were quite peculiar from others. The man wrapped loin cloth around their hips which was just enough to cover their private part and seldom wore shirt.

We learnt that during January to February months the Hao tribes came down to valley for earning wages for their livelihood. Their main job was digging drainage. Whenever they commit any slight mistake they were scolded haopang, haoth*. This was very common in olden days. They were not allow to enter the house so they prepare their food outside the house.

From the religion point of view the Hindu converted Meiteis look down upon the Hao Tribes. It is because of the Hindu religion that teaches caste system but after the Hao tribes embraced Christian religion they slowly come up now there has been great changed in their lives. Religion should not distance us from our blood relationship. Anybody according to his or her wish can choose any religion because this is an individual freedom in a democratic country.

The word 'Hao' is never an offensive word or a filthy language. It's just the name of a community. It is very easy to pronounce and a beautiful word. The Hao refers to Naga tribes alone. Some Meiteis thinks that all tribals are Hao but it's a wrong conception.

The fourth event is Meradhaki Meithanba. In the months of October every year, the younger brother groups were asked to put up fire on top of bamboo post at every house. So that the hill brothers could see that their younger brothers were still alive. When asked of it, the Meitei brothers said they did it in the month of October every year. The written story is not available but the folklore of the Tangkhuls still hold the truth.

How Tangkhul name come into existence?

On the fourth day he was going to tell us an important part of the story. It was about how the name of the Tangkhuls and Meiteis came about. It was indeed very interesting to listen to because we have never heard about it from anybody else. The old man began to tell us that on a certain day, in the first week of March, a group of valley children saw a thick smoke floating in the sky in the hilly areas at noon.

Seeing this, the children asked the Meiteis elders about the place. To this the elder who stood there told them that, that was 'Tatakhulni' which means elder brothers village. Since then the younger generation called it Takhul in short form and later came Tangkhul.

In this regard one Meitei elders once published in a newspaper that the meaning of Tangkhul means a very rare village. Because one village is far away from the other. Therefore the community is called Tangkhul. This kind of interpretation is totally wrong and unfounded from the fact that all hill villages of Manipur used to stay far from each other in olden days.

Then why all the hill villages of Manipur were not called Tangkhul? It is only imagination and presumption. Every year in the first week of march, the Nagas in the hills burn their jhuming fields(Shifting cultivation). Since a range of hills burned, the smoke emitting from it was a lot. Seeing this ball of smokes floating in the sky, the children happen to ask the elders who stood by.

I felt the story being narrated by the Old man was more convincing than the others. So, according to him the name Tangkhul( which means elder brother village) was the inventions of the Meitei.

How Meitei name came into existence?

The old man said, on one clear weather day evening around 6.00 p.m that the children of hill area saw a dotted fires here and there far down the valley. So the children asked the elders what was going on down there at the valley side. The elder asked what did you say?. The children repeated, the fire being seen down at the valley. Oh! that fire being seen far down the valley? That was our younger brothers' residential places. Since then the children started calling fire seen place(Meithei).

In Tangkhul fire is called Mei and seen is called Thei, together it form Meithei. So, the name of the word Meithei is the invention of Tangkhul. The old man got tired so we bought him a cup of Tea and Somosa. With a little energy he got from this, he began to tell the story of who we are.

He said that our original name is Hao not Tangkhul. He gave us some evidence proof that whenever we are about to showcase our cultural dance or folk song, the leader of the dance's group shout(in Tangkhul language -ohh -Eó Hao pheizak sausa) meaning oh, let us show our hao dance, Hao laa (Hao folk song), Hao kachon (Hao shawl), Hao kasaan(Hao meghala), Hao hum(Hao pot) and Hao shim(Hao house).

Do you think this Hao stand for non Christian, not at all. Our religion is Christianity but our community is Hao. Tangkhul is a nick name given by the Meitei brothers whereas Hao is our original name. So it's my solemn appeal to Tangkhul Naga Long to change the name from Tangkhul to original name HAO at the earliest.

To enable the readers to understand the two languages, I place Meitei-lon in the first place, Tangkhul in the second place and English in the third as follows:

Sl. No. Meiteilon Tangkhullon Englishlon
102.HeithokbaHeikashokPour Out
105.HotnabaHotkhanaHard Labour
108.HeitukTheitukWild Apple
114.LauLuiPaddy field
116.LamLamAn Area of Land
117.LamLamA Stressful of Two Hands
132.MahutMahutIn Place Of
138.MingshelMingshinLooking Glass
140.MeiphuMeiphuFire Pot
141.MangphasiMangphameisaSweet Dream
143.Mi-AteiMi-KhangateiOther People
149.MizamMizamOrdinary Man
159.LingbaKhalingStrong Enough
163.Line ZingbaLine KazingDraw Line
164.Laman TonbaLeiman KatonIndebtedness
166.Maron MaronMaron MaronOn and On
168.MiramdaMiramliOutside State
171.Mamit KhapbaAmik KakhapBlinking
172.MapungphabaMaphungkaphaGrown Up
199.PhungkaMeiphungFamilies of a Clan

To be continued.....

* Yarngam Lunglo wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on July 18, 2019.

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