TODAY -

Kalum Kai (House of worship) : Its origin and significance
- Part 2 -

Dr Budha Kamei *



Kalum Kai is separate from the rest of the village in the way it is conceived, as physically treated and respected. Every TRC village has a Kalum Kai; it is the most sacred ground for the people.

It is usually built on the highest point of a village or a proper place. It is done in the same model of the first temple built by Haipou Jadonang and Rani Gaidinlu invoking tradition as a chain of memory for legitimation. Every Kalum Kai must be constructed facing to the east or north. East is vital for two factors: it signifies the direction of Bhubon cave, as well as that of the sunrise.

To Evans Pritchard, east indicates to life and west to death. Arnold Van Gennep says, the rites connected with laying the foundation for a house and constructing a house falls into the category of rites of passage. They follow certain ritual formalities in building of a house, without which the house is considered incomplete.

Once the proposed site is selected, the ground is levelled and then an auspicious time,day and month for laying the foundation post is chosen by consulting with the priest/priestess. It is also considered good to lay the foundation when the moon goes up but never after the full moon (Buhpumei).

On the favorable day, they perform a ceremony called Tengdai Khunmei, upright of foundation pillar invoking Tingkao Ragwang for successful completion. Usually, Tengdai stands for the backbone of the house. This is followed by offering of holy wine to Tingkao Ragwang and deities. The front of the Kalum Kai looks like the front of ornamented ritual house of Tarang Kai sacrifice.

After completion of the construction, in an auspicious day, the House of worship is dedicated to Tingkao Ragwang with hymns, ho, hoing, libation of holy wine, devotional songs and offerings. The offerings are consumed by the devotees as Prasad.

Before entering the Kalum Kai, the devotees are purified by sprinkling of water with Ten Mhaimit; shoes and sock must be removed. It consists of one room; inside, at the far end is a pulpit/platform, centrally placed and elevated.

One must climb the 5/7 steps to it, proceeding the right leg, then left, and right…… On the left of the platform there is a bench for the office secretary and on the right is reserved for the secretary, president and priest of TRCP.

At the center of the platform, Bamdon, a kind of chair made of wooden plank is adorned with male's traditional clothes like Renglan and Pheingao muffler and a gold ring, which symbolizes the resting place of the Almighty God, Tingkao Ragwang. It is about three feet from the Boudaan, which is fixed firmly on the wall. Two jugs are placed on both sides of the Bamdon for oblation of holy wine (Joupan Keikhang). Two spears are also upright on both sides of the same.

There is an offering box for coin and paper money in front of the Bamdon; fruits, flowers and rice can be placed close to it. This offering is accompanied by a prayer (personal and private). Once that is finished, one must turn anticlockwise (away from the right) and return to one's place. Secretary, president and intellectuals of TRC give lectures from the platform. Facing the platform is the space for worshippers; the right side is for the male and the left for female.

There are two main entrances one at the front and another at the side; the same entrances are also used as exists. In addition, there is left side door.

Boudaan is a symbol of Tingkao Ragwang. This symbol is based on ritual worship of Tingkao Ragwang locally known as Tingkao Ragwangjang Lamei. The outer circle represents the universe and the two poles in the east and west represent as Didet (Bread). The two poles in the south and north represent as Ditung (Length). The centre space is known as Dichung (centre).

The circle is the sun and the white circle is the moon. This symbol is used both in performance of prayer on every Sunday and every Full Moon Day offered to Tingkao Ragwang and any occasions of worship of Tingkao Ragwang.

The universe, the sun, the moon, the earth and all other cosmic objects are the creation of Tingkao Ragwang, the Almighty God. He is believed to be absolutely benevolent. Now, the TRC people use the name Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak (in short TRC) for educational, official, employment and census purposes.

The symbol of Tingkao Ragwang represents His divine grace and power as reflected in the cosmos and universe. This symbol is used as lockets and stickers and also the identifying mark of TRC.

Conclusion

Kalum Kai is a house of worship and religious discourse. TRC is growing day by day based on the Kalum Kai. Like other religions, the TRC also has the potential to bring peace in the society as the religion was born and brought up on the soil of Manipur.

The TRC people worship Tingkao Ragwang at the Kalum Kai on every Sunday and full moon day. Regular worship and gathering helps man to have mental peace and bringing peace and harmony among the people. Religious architecture does express the religious belief, aesthetic choice, and economic capacity of the people. The Kalum Kai of Chingmeirong, Imphal is the biggest house of worship among the indigenous religions in North East India.

However, it was built with the contribution of the people who wanted to preserve and promote the Kabui (Rongmei) religion. Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak is now giving great emphasis on the devotional songs and prayer hymns in worship of Tingkao Ragwang for the salvation of the soul of men.

Every person may now try to attain salvation by offering prayer to Tingkao Ragwang.


Concluded ....


* Dr Budha Kamei wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on 11 January 2022

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