E-Pao! Manipur / Ethnic People of Manipur :: Elaboration of feast and ceremony of Koireng tribe

Elaboration of feast and ceremony of Koireng tribe

By: Pr Kungsong Wanbe *

In my previous article, under the heading of "Faith and Worship of Koireng People" I had written thirteen different names of feasts and ceremonies of Koireng people which are held annually.

Because of time and space limit, I did not write the elaboration of those ceremonies. Today I am writing the elaboration. Let us have a look one by one:


Bedal is a religious worship performed in the month of March (Koireng month Chaipi and Manipuri month Sajibu). As Koirengs are agriculturalists, this is a ritual ceremony for the prosperity of agriculture.

Before performing this ceremony, agriculture work cannot be started. On the appointed day, every household will contribute small quantity of paddy and seeds of other eatable/vegetable plants.

All the articles are brought to the house of the chief of the village and cooked there. All the villagers come to partake the meal. While the villagers are having the meal, the priest of the village with some companions will go to a stream in the jungle to worship the Supreme God or Pathian.

Mud taken from the stream is used to make pots which are then distributed to all the households in the village. In the evening when the priest and his companions return from the stream, one of the companions is assigned to produce fire called meilap by the Koirengs (Meiba chingba in Manipuri), this is done by rubbing a bamboo string on a wood with dried smoothen thatching grass.

According to Koireng elders, the meilap or meiba chingba and distribution of fire to every household is done in memory of Chongboumpi Meihal or what is known as Poireiton Meithok by the Manipuris- the huge fire that destroyed all the properties of the Koireng people.

After the performance of the Bedal ceremony, agricultural activities can be started. It is worth to remember that Tuihe (Yupanthaba in Manipuri)- pouring of a little amount of rice beer /wine on the ground has to be carried out before any of Koireng worships, feasts and ceremonies begins.

2. Palchoi:

Palchoi is a ceremony performed to ensure safety of the village from attacks of enemies, success in wars and protection from diseases etc.

During the ceremony, the village gates are repaired and rites are performed to protect the village from evil spirits and the enemies. The village priest or Thempu perform the ceremony which is a worship of Pathian. At night the villagers observe 'genna'.

3. Kangrai Mindai:

Kangrai Mindai ceremony is performed to worship Pathian to ensure protection from fire, diseases in the village. This ceremony is a worship to ward off the danger of forest fire which the Koireng villages are prone to face.

This ceremony is performed in the month of May for two days. A sacrifice is offered to Pathian at the village gate. The priest for this ceremony must be the chief of the village. A pig, a dog and a hen are sacrificed. The cooked meat will be partaken by all the villagers.

Next day, a tug of war between two groups of villagers, in most cases, the northern and the southern groups. This has a mutual value as the outcome of the contest will be indicative of the next harvest. It is commonly believed that if the northern group wins it is the sign of a good fortune.

4. Chachuonlei:

Chachuonlei is one day ceremony in the month of May to worship Pathian for the safety and plentiful growth of the crops by performing a rite to call the soul of the paddy and other crops.

Every household will contribute rice and wine and the village will contribute a pig, a dog and a cock which are sacrificed to Pathian. The whole village will join in the feast.

5. Tuikuong Khuor:

Tuikuong Khuor, literally means digging of the water ponds and springs of the village. The ceremony is performed in the month of August to do the repairing of ponds and springs of the village. The ceremony is simple offering of wine by the chief of the village to Pathian and the whole male folk of the village would start the repairing of water ponds and springs.

6. Charaikei:

Charaikei is also held in August by performing a ceremony for good harvest when the paddy plants have reached a certain height. One egg and one pig are sacrificed to Pathian. Egg yolk is sprinkled over the standing paddy plants.

The killed pig will be brought back at home and cooked and eaten. This ceremony is performed by single household of the village- the family which wishes to performed it, it is not compulsory for all the families of the village.

7. Lamkier-Lei:

Lam-kier-lei is also held in the month of August. The ceremony is for cleansing the dancing ground of the village. Wine is offered to Pathian in a rite after which the whole village clear the dancing ground.

After this, the whole day and night is declared 'genna' and the people take rest and sleep at night.

8. Cham-er-seir:

Cham-er-seir is an important ceremony cum festival which is held in the month of October in order to drive away the evil spirit known as Khopu (Loudraubi in Manipuri) from the village and ensure good health and good harvest.

The duration is one day only. The ritual function is like this: In the morning, a bamboo pole called by the Koirengs Khodei will be raised in the courtyard of the house of the Chief.

A pig is sacrificed, the liver of the pig after being dried over fire is offered to Pathian. In the evening, a big bonfire will be started in the middle of the village.

Every male of the village will take up a burning stick and shout Leave Khopu". Then the burning sticks will be thrown at the thatched house but no fire occurs.

While throwing the burning sticks, the villagers beat drums and blow trumpets made of buffalo horns.

Each house will offer meal with one stick to the Khopu, then the evil deity will leave the village. The offering of the stick to Khopu is done with the presumption that the legs of Khopu are broken by the burning sticks thrown at him.

9. Lamthiel Lei:

Lam-thiel Lei is a ceremony cum festival of making and cleansing the village road. This festival is held in the month of November just for a day only.

The whole folk of the village will gather at the village gate to do the community social service for keeping the village roads and the village as well clean.

When they return home, all the male will sing song called 'Lamthiel Lei La' accompanied by beating drums. Then the village elders: the Khullakpa, Luplakpa and some heads of clan representatives to the village council khuo will be carried on the back of some young men. On the way, they are entertained with rice beer by the womenfolk of the village.

The coming menfolk carry branches of trees with many leaves. When they tread on the village path, they will lightly hit the ground occasionally with the tree branches.

And when they reach the house of the chief or the house of someone which is appointed for the year, they will stand circling the verandah; they will strike the ground with the tree branches.

If the falling of the leaves are good it is interpreted as the expression of the favour of Pathian for good harvest, and if the branches are found without leaves, it is taken as a sign of coming crop failure.

10. Chathar Lei:

Cha-thar Lei is a ceremony of tasting new crops which is performed in the month of November. The first harvested paddy from the fields is offered to God. Each household will sacrifice a red cock for plentiful harvest.

11. Lengyu Choi:

Leng-yu Choi is a feast of entertainment of the sister's son. This festival is performed in the month of December. The boy child will be invited to the house of his maternal uncle for a feast and the boy will present a gourd of rice beer to his maternal uncle.

In those families where the daughter of maternal uncle is already married, or the sister's son is already married or the maternal uncle has no daughter, the feast need not be arranged. It is an introduction of the prospective son-in-law to the daughter of the maternal uncle.

12. Chalam Lei:

It is also a ceremony performed in the month of December. The village community led by the chief will offer a sacrifice of a pig, a dog and a cock to the village gate. The whole village will join in the feast and the whole day and night will be declared genna.

13. Ruichum:

It is worship of Pathian by both the community and individual household. This ceremony closes the harvest of the year. The chief will offer sacrifice of a pig and a cock in his own field.

The individual families may also perform the ceremony on the same day. Ruichum is a ceremony of both thanksgiving and prayer to Pathian for good harvest of the year and for the next year.

* Pr Kungsong Wanbe wrote this article for The Sangai Express . This article was webcasted on January 11, 2008.

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