TODAY -

Buddhism in Manipur
- Part 3 -

Holkhongam Haokip *

A Buddhist Temple at Tamu, Myanmar near India Border town of Moreh in April 2015
A Buddhist Temple at Tamu, Myanmar near India Border town of Moreh in April 2015 :: Pix - Nganthoi Lourembam



During the festive occasions like SonemLochar (usually celebrated in the month of February), Dasami (October), Buddha Jayanti and in every full moon days (Purnima), the Lama has to performed rituals by reciting verses taken out from religious texts. The Lama is sitting in the left front of the deities followed by two three helpers as instrumentalists who handled instruments like drum and Cymbal. The mud-statue of the Buddha and other higher rankers in the Buddhist religious pantheon are installed inside the center of the Gumba.

In front of the deities, a small wooden table as lamp-stand called Chuimu is kept, having 108 light holes. It is usually lighted by every devotee in every big occasion, and is kept burning till the end of the ceremonies. The DorjeChyoilingGumpa has a secret box that could be open only on the occasion of Buddha Jayanti. A number of statues of the successors of the Buddha are kept and preserved.

Like other religions, Buddhism too has many festive occasions, and in all these festivals, appeasing the Buddha and the deities by using different kind of instruments is now a tradition. The main instruments, used in this Gumba includes cheardil (bell), Thundar, Thui which is similar to Hindu term Amrit, Phuikong – a bowl for offerings, Gyabu (Cymbal), dung, Kangling, datar, nga (drum), Khorlo (small religious – wheel),etc.

Dater is an instrument used specially on Buddha Jayanti for receiving Holy Spirit which can be obtained through higher Lamas like Tulpa, Rimpoche, etc. In all these festivities, the Lama of the Gumpa is seen reciting the holy religious texts with Thengua (made of 108 beads) in his left hand. After the end of the rituals, the devotees are served with Chchoi. It is a Prasad made up of different varieties of eatable with different tastes.

The 10 miles Buddhist Gumpa has a committee consisting of five members. They are mainly responsible for looking after the management as well as the development of the Gumba. Its present members consists of Nandaram Tamang(Chairman), Gyan Bahadur Tamang (Vice-Chairman), Shri Lokendra Tamang (Secretary),Shri Anil Kumar Tamang( Joint Secretary) and Shri PhoudawanTamang as Cashier

In addition, the committee has five more executive members selected from every block. Sri Purna Bahadur Tamang is the present Chairman of the village.

Kundu Ningma Gunpa

Beyond the Chawangkining village, 13 miles away from Kanggui, there is a village called Chuchekhop inhabited both by the Nepali's Tamang community and the Liangmei-Nagas. The village is divided into A, inhabited by the Tamang- Nepalis and B, by the Liangmeis. Chuchekhop (A) has 110household with more than 600 populations. The Tamangs in the village are again sub-divided into 12 sub-clans, such as Blou, Gole, Ghising, Nesur, Singer, Glan, Bomjan, Pakhring, Moktan, Titung, Thing and Bal. Their faith is rooted in the Mahayana form of Buddhism.

The Kundu Ningma Gumpa, established in 1991 is 18 ft. in length, 18 ft. in breadth and is 12 ft. high. As in the case of other, they had installed deities including the Buddha and its successors inside the center of the Gumpa. The Gumpa is built with mud and has for Chingjam in its four corners. In the left front of the Gumpa, another Chingjam having scripts written in Devnagiri is hoisted.

Birbal Lama is the present Lama who is mainly responsible for all the religious rituals conducted in the Gumpa. Besides, the Gumpa has a committee under Shri LalitGoleTamang and Nar BahadurTamang as Chairman and Secretary respectively. Their main concern is to look after the welfare and development of the Gumpa. The Gumpa committee is working hard for the construction of new brick-building with much bigger one.

Siddim Gumpas

Saddim or Siddim is a synonymous term used by the settlers of the same village covering vast areas of lands. Saddim is a Maram term and Siddim, a Nepali term. It is a beautiful village located on the hill-top of the North West of the Senapati Town. It is 16 km. away from the town falling under the Karong constituency. It is largely inhabited by the MaramNagas and a few Nepali clans.

Christianity is the main religion of the major Maram tribal, but Nepalese in Siddim areas are more or less linked up with Buddhist faith. Among the Siddim Nepalese, the Tamangs out pass the number of the Rais, Limbus, Gurungs and the Sherpas. The land they lived in is highly fertile and is best for cultivating crops of different varieties such as maize, mustard, beans, brinjal, ginger, etc. Maize and not rice is the common and a main crop for the Siddim Nepali Buddhist.

Interestingly, one can come across three Buddhist Gumpas in the whole of Siddim region – two in Lanka Basti and one in Timsina. Less than two km. away towards the western direction of the Maram'sSaddim is LamkaBasti. The Basti with a total population of 60 to 70 heads was recently inhabited by the above mountainous Nepali clans. It has 15 household including two Buddhist Gumpas. One is owned by the Tamangs and another, owned and erected individually by a lone Sherpa of the village– Pashang Sharpa.

According to PashangSharpa, son of Shri Pemba Sherpa and Shmt. Nimadoma, a secret for the construction of the Gumpa was revealed to him by the Buddha before the year 2012. Hence, the construction work started in 2012 and was completed the next year in 2013. Even the name for the newly constructed Gumpa is to be given only by the spiritual head of the Buddhist probably from Lhasa of Tibet.

The exact size of the Siddim Buddhist Gumpa is 25 ft. long and 15 ft. wide. Same with the other Buddhist Gumpas, it is surrounded by Chingjam with three Chortins in the front of the Gumpa, one in the left. The entrance of the Gumba is well decorated with the mud statue of the two sitting-lions on its sides. On the right and left of the Gumpa is a small religious wheel called Mani which is to be touch with hand before entering and after coming out of the Gumpa. It is made of wood, and is kept as a symbol of a large wheel traditionally kept in every big Buddhist Monasteries, stupas and viharas.

Inside the Gonpa, in the center opposite to entrance is a deity Sthan where five deities including that of the Buddha are installed. All the deities are made of mud with fully decorated. The statue of the Buddha is in the middle followed by the statues of Guru Rimpoche in the first left and Guru Chengsiri in the first right. In the second left is goddess Durga and Tara Dolma in the second right. All these deities are cornered by two identical chapridus in both the extreme ends. The Lama is responsible for performing every religious ceremony by reciting religious scriptures and blessing the worshipers.

He is assisted by a drummer called Lama Chopen. The devotees will enters the Gumpa, lighted the 108 lamps in front of the deities and offers milk, fruits of different kinds incent, water, rice, cheng, flowers etc. During the time of the festival called Kala Chakra which is celebrated usually in the month of January, colorful cultural items are displayed through singing and dancing mainly to appease the deities.

Concluded


* Holkhongam Haokip wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao / The Sangai Express
The writer is a Lecturer in the Department of History, Mount Everest College, Senapati, and can be contacted at Holkhongamtvm(at)gmail(Dot)com
This article was posted on May 05, 2015.


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