TODAY -

E-Pao! Kangla Fort - The ancient Capital of Manipur

The Revivalism of Sanamahism
(A review regarding the present scenarios)

By : Lukram Ingocha Meetei *



I belong to Manipur, which is a meeting point, epicenter, between South East Asia and the Indian sub-continent. The history of Manipur dated back to 33 A.D ruled by a total of more than 108 kings and Manipur was known by different names at various periods in its history, such as, Tilli-Koktong, Poirei-Lam, Sanna-Leipak, Mitei-Leipak, Meitrabak or Manipur (present day).

In 1891 AD, after the defeat of the Meiteis by the British in the Anglo-Manipuri war of Khongjom, Manipur's sovereignty for more than three millenniums was lost. It regained its freedom on August 28, 1947 AD but did not last long. On 15 October 1949, Manipur was annexed into the Indian Territory. Sport is our blood because Ningthou Kangba who invented horse polo (Sagol-Kangjei) for the first time in Manipur in or before 34 BC to the world. These are some of my original history of my birthplace Manipur.

From the identity point of view I would like to express myself to the world that I am Lukram Ingocha Meetei and I belong to the Meetei/ Meitei community; I speak Meeteilon (Manipuri) and I worship Sanamahism and finally I am pursuing my PhD in University of Delhi. And I love to respect my own religion and indigenousness for that I give time when I have every free time.

This identity is very important when I contribute something for a particular works or for the achievements to the society. As I have been very confused by such question like whenever I go out of Manipur like "Are you a Hindu Christian or Muslim"? But I reply to them that I belong to Sanamahi religion. May be here in Delhi I don't have "Worship Places" like other religion do. But my room is a best place of worship as I keep my goddess Emma Panthoibi, Emma Imoinu's Images and also the Lord Pakhangba's Image just above my main entrance door at outside wall of my room.

According to Oxford Advance Learner Dictionary, religion means "the belief in the existence of a god and gods and the activities that are connected with the worship of them". It means "belief in the existence of a supernatural ruling power, the creator and controller of the universe". With the down of the proto history/ prehistory (New Stone Age) human started to settle in groups and worshiped natural gods like the sun, water and sky etc as God and Goddesses.

Later on developed great religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam etc. Similarly the Meetei/Meiteis of Kangleipak (Manipur) also started to worship natural objects and later regarded Sanamahi the son of Tengbanba Mapu as their supreme deity.

Sanamahi religion is one of the oldest religions of South-East Asia. It originated in Manipur and mainly worshipped by the Meeteis/Meiteis, Kabui and Zeliangrong and few other communities who inhabit in Manipur, Assam, Tripura, U.P, Myanmar, Bangladesh, UK, USA and Canada etc.

The study of Sanamahi religion may be termed as "SANAMAHISM" and the followers as SANAMAHISTS" it simply the cult of Sanamahi the creator of Meetei trinity, the Sidaba Mapu - the immortal one - the immortal trinity god which is in extensive use in ancient literature. From the present population trend, the region has sharply increased of Sanamahism from the previous census. The revivalism or revolutionary cult Sanamahism is recognized by the census record of the Govt. of India due to the praise worthy efforts of Late.R.K. Birendro Singh, I.A.S.

Meetei/ Meitei attitude to the religion and concept of God is not possible without the proper understanding of Sanamahi religion. Back to Sanamahism/ancient religion before the coming of Hinduism was the slogan of Apokpa Marup, Meetei Marup (Social organization) etc. in their programmed. Pakhangba Laining was also currently employed to signify revivalism.

On the basis of lord of Meeteis, it was thought that there was a conflict between the cults of Sanamahi and of Pakhangba. As decreed by the almighty, Pakhangba was the king of Kangla (cult of the ruling dynasty) and Sanamahi was the ruler every house (cult of masses). The image of the Pakhangba usually keep at every Meeteis houses at the outsides walls over the doors after the 113 year long occupation by the British and Army personal of the Indian Govt., the symbolic place of Kangleicha's the Kangla was handed over to the Govt. of Manipur, by the Prime Minister of India Dr.Manmohan Singh in month of November, 2004 in between the volatile situation by people movement for the Removal of Arm Forces Special Power Act from the state.

I have been very confident to go into the Kangla Fort since my grandfather Late Lukram Anganghal was a priest who visited every day, but our visits demanded permissions. Now time has changed and we are free to go to the fort and worship the God (Ebuthou Pakhangba the first king of Kangleipak since 33 A.D). Some of the salient features and aspects of Sanamahism are like "in Sanamahism there is the belief in one God underlying many god and goddesses".

In assimilate features such as the worship of forces of nature like fire, water, mountain etc. ancestor worship (Apokpa), Lamlai, Yumlai, Ningthoulai and Umanglai. Religion of antiquity-In its pure native form it is as all as the History of Meetei/Meitei people. There is reference to the worship of Sanamahi by King Kangba in the Hayi age.

Activity and the glory of Sanamahi - The king Khagemba experienced many difficulties in his war with the Mugal army of the west and Mangsha of the Kabow valley (which is at presently Chindwin Valley in Myanmar). It was revealed by oracle that Sanamahi who returned to the godheads after ending his earthy life.

Shanti Das Mahanta, a powerful Ramandi missionary from Shylhet. The prince got ill when the king re-established Sanamahi's idol and worship him with his humbleness. On September 2, 1944, a joint meeting of 11 prominent leaders was held at the residence of my (Author) Grandfather ôLate Lukram Anganghal Meetei (son of my great grand father Late Lukram Leeklai) at WangKhei ThambalKhong, Imphal, as he was one of them. Two resolution were passed unanimously i.e., to denounce the present religion (Hinduism) and try to accept the ancient Meetei religion and also to make an effort to popularize and develop Sanamahi religion.

About a month later they organized a mass campaign to popularize the Sanamahi religion at many places of Manipur Valley. Again, a joint meeting was organized at residence of Late Pukhrambam Surchand on May 13, 1945 on the eve of formation of Meetei Marup. This comes up with many resolutions for the revivalism of Sanamahi religion.

In the religious history of Manipur, the 14th of May, 1945, the Meetei Marup was formed in Manipur unanimously. This lead to the revival of Meetei traditional cultures, scripts of Meetei (Meetei Mayek), customary practices, and traditional religious ceremonies relating to the Meetei society. These formations also lead to the conflict between the followers of Sanamahi religion and those who followed Hinduism.

In 1947, 38 members of the Meetei Marup were excommunicated by Brahma Saba (Hindu pro activist). They were not allowed to mix with Hinduism in any festival/ceremonies of birth and death etc. not only the people who followed Sanamahi religion, but those who are in touch with them were excommunicated by Brahma Saba. Both the group was not allowed to work together in the paddy fields or to eat together. Intermarriage between the members of Hindus and the Sanamahi was unthinkable.

So, after the formation of Meetei Marup, there were many cases of social boycott, excommunication and social conflicts and also between the authorities sympathetic to Hinduism and the Meetei. Many cases were filed in between the two authorities. As in the Meetei community we don't have any caste or group since our origin except seven clan or Yek Salai, but this was the first case like pure or impure among the community brought out by the Brahma Saba in Manipur, like in the mainstream India.

Is Hindu Meetei/Meitei belongs to which class or type among the Hindus as they have caste and class among the religion, like Brahmin, or lower caste? How mainstream Hindu recognized those mongoloid Hindus in their belief? These questions must be important to ask among the Meetei/Meitei Hindu as far as identity is concerned.

At the closed of the 20th century Sanamahism gained a strong foothold owing to the coming of modern education, increase in population and many other social factors. The gap of untouchables between Sanamahism and Hinduism became almost abandon. During this period the impact of Sanamahism became more and more embedded in the hearts and mind of the people at large. As a result it gave a new hope and dimension in the process of the revivalist's movement of Sanamahism. Old beliefs and religious bindings were untied and the beliefs of emerging movement began to take their place.

Mass baptism to Hinduism Known as Nongkhang Iruppa, during the reign of Pamheiba was debaptized on Wednesday, the 16th February 1974. On April 23 1992, the then Maharaja of Manipur, Okendrajit Sana declared that " I open the Lubak Tabu and abandon Hinduism as state religion and recognition is hereby withdrawn by the Royal Customary Law of the Country, instead the Royal Customary Law revives the Lainingthouism as the state religion and do herby give recognition as state religion".

Many images of Lord Sanamahi from its Brahmin Pujari from many place like Keisamthong Moirang Ningthou Leirak Imphal, Kongmaroo, Mongba Hanba Forest, Hiyangthang Lairembi and the sacred place Nongmaijing Nongpok Ningthou. Moreover the day the Puyas (Holy books Written in Meetei script) were burned on that fateful day-night during the reign of king Pamheiba is observed and remembered every year to this day as Puya Mei Thaba Ningshing Thouram since 1978.

Recent revivalism over the script is also become a very critical situation in the state at present. Many organization and institute have been demanding Bengali script to replace by Meetei script in this coming year 2005 right from News paper to the text of every Manipuri language books. Also unluckily thousands of books written in Bengali script have been burning down in the Imphal cities by the Meetei language activists, since the end of 2004.

The Festival of Sanamahi religion has become more popular and is being observed by more and more people in the recent times. Sajibu Cheiraouba is being observed to welcome the New Year (Sajibu Nongma Panba). Moreover in the census of 1981, 2001, Sanamahi religion was recorded as one of the recognized religion of Manipur. Also many educated Meetei Family who have been staying outside the state started worshiping such ancient religion and religious ceremony (like Imoinu and Cheiraouba) in most of the continent.

Many books on how to conduct religious ceremonies with rites and rituals are being published. Holy Books for Sanamahi religion were selected. All these are the advancement of the growth and development of Sanamahi religion. With the establishment of many religious organizations disposed to Sanamahism several interpretation of religious ceremonies, functions and prayers have come up.

The Meetei should remember the fact that Sanamahi religion is accepted and followed by small number of people. If the Meeteis do not contemplate seriously to being about a commonly acceptable framework for all the religious ceremonies function and rituals, Sanamahism would have revived in Vain. Every Meeteis must feel some emotions and regrets when we remember the deformation History of early 18 century, where our religion, script, tradition, crematory, custom had forcibly changed and destroyed by the king Chrairongba and his son Garibaniwaja reign with the help of a Ramandi missionary .

From these concept there may be many such natural belief or worships which is hidden in other parts of the world who's indigenous religion has been replaced by other dominant religions. As an example, most of the North East Indian tribes were baptized into Christianity after the British occupation by leaving or neglecting their own natural beliefs/worships and worship culture of their forefather. The diversity of religions makes the Indian continent most wonderful in the eye of today's world.


Lukram Ingocha Meetei is a Research Scholar & Consultant Geologists (CISMHE, South Campus,D.U) at the Dept of Geology, University of Delhi.
Contributes regularly to e-pao.net and this article was webcasted on 26th March 2005
The author can be contacted at ingocha2000@yahoo.com and at his home page at http://www.cismhe.org/faculty/lukram.html


* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Manipur independence & Merger Agreement
  • COVID-19 Status 04 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • COVID-19 : Impact in Manipur :: News Timeline
  • Farmers training at IBSD, Imphal
  • The enemy of the mighty :: Poem
  • Scientific nursery raising of vegetable crops
  • Votes and economic forces
  • Ningol Chakkouba @Thanga #1: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 03 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Intl Day of Persons with Disabilities
  • Seminar : Bioeconomy from Bioresources
  • COVID-19 and antibiotic resistance
  • A passion for teaching science
  • Ticket allotment toughest challenge for BJP
  • UAPA arrests, AFSPA & improved law & order
  • Strategies to improve piggery sector
  • COVID-19 Status 02 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Beauty lies within you :: Poem
  • Panti Neimei : Prayer for longevity
  • Manager @ KIIT TBI Bhubaneswar
  • Careers in IoT (Internet of Things)
  • Omicron the new avatar of coronavirus
  • Omicron variant scare amid aura of normalcy
  • Book fair @ Manipur Univ #1: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 01 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Why 680,000 AIDS deaths in 2020?
  • 'forward Ethnographic report on Meeitei'
  • Gust of wind :: Poem
  • Political leaders & their credibilities
  • World Heritage Sites in India
  • CM's barb on Imphal centric tribal MLAs
  • Inclusive Manipur: A cure for myriad maladies
  • Cosmos Festival @Maram #3: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 30 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • DM University: Place of Hopes or Nothing
  • Protest for ST list at Guwahati
  • Choosing the right candidates
  • Drone warfare
  • MU in limelight for wrong reason
  • Time to review development initiatives
  • Let's Make a Difference: Girl Up Khonjel
  • COVID-19 Status 29 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • December Calendar for Year 2021 : Tools
  • Demands extension of Ishan Uday deadline
  • 'Name of Bailey Bridge at Tipaimukh wrong'
  • My lovely mother :: Poem
  • Election in March first week ?
  • Lesson to learn from JCILPS' drive
  • ILP System needs dedicated staff
  • Traditional Fishing Equipment : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 28 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Protest for ST list at Delhi
  • Pendraba Khunnaigi Meiri :: Play review
  • The days of yore :: Poem
  • Farmers suitable technique of composting
  • Threat from new variant
  • Landlocked NE needs better connectivity
  • Meetei Leikai @ Silchar #2: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 27 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Antimicrobial resistance is threatening health
  • The Unified Nation :: Poem
  • Manipur Polls 2022: All roads lead to BJP
  • Economic governance; need for Manipur
  • Celebrate festival with Covid protocol
  • COVID-19 Status 26 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2021 #5: Gallery
  • Constitution Day at Lilong
  • Constitution Day at Lamphel Court
  • Applicants : Manipur Entrepreneurs Society
  • Executive Committee posts for YMC
  • Transgenders : Struggling for identity
  • Anthelmintic resistance: Havoc to veterinary
  • Signing pacts hallmark policy to delay stir
  • Paddy land conservation
  • Jiribam Keithel [Sept 2021] #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 25 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Time heals
  • Manipur women : Champions Sepak Takraw
  • TEDxYouth@RonaldsayRoad at Agartala
  • Tips to make nail paint last longer
  • Health Min data exposes Govt inefficiency
  • Leaving out Manipur from the loop?
  • RIMS, Lamphel, Imphal #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 24 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • COVID-19 Status 23 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Activism Against Gender based Violence
  • National Lok Adalat at Lamphel
  • MPSC cleaning by LAC
  • Hope - the essence of life
  • Students Induction Programme at Lilong
  • Ending cash-for-vote trend a pipedream
  • Pluralistic Manipur & divergent forces
  • Remembering Guru Gourkishwor Sharma
  • Training on mushroom cultivation : Gallery
  • What if TB, HIV medicines stop working?
  • NPF Women Wing Co-ordination meeting
  • World Children's Day
  • Pure passion :: Poem
  • Emergence of NPP in region's politics
  • Taking NE on board
  • Trekking @ Mount Koubru #2 : Gallery
  • Healthcare not handcuffs
  • Asymmetrical Federalism in North-East
  • Dr Konica Khuraijam- Best Educator-2021
  • Webinar : Relations betn India &SE Asia
  • Career as a Product Manager
  • Starting & ending with economic blockade!
  • ST : Renewed campaign & Govt's silence
  • Exposure visit to Kwatha by MTU
  • COVID-19 Status 21 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Sustainable Development at Noney
  • Nine Hills One Valley : World premier
  • Rs 3,30,000/- as assistance to journalists
  • Taj by night!
  • Boost for local handloom & handicraft
  • Drug smuggling from/through Manipur
  • Ningol Chakouba Shopping #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 20 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • 'AirOThon' for Manipur & Sikkim
  • Environment & antimicrobial resistance
  • A lone night traveller :: Poem
  • Central Govt finally bows to kisans
  • Mera Houchongba @ Kangla #3 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 19 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Improving public transport will reduce pollution
  • Nutrition- Tool for resilience in COVID
  • Take a relook at NEET
  • Glorifying toothless ILP system in state
  • Lapses in ILPS: Complete let-down
  • Cultural Fest @Changangei #2: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 18 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Child Development Manager @ MaolKeki
  • Irujdn hEbi tEbi lMdM :: Seireng
  • The Killing Fields (2013-21) :: News Timeline
  • Is "to be like a girl" an insult?
  • Aloe vera for acne
  • Elections: Plentiful issues, solution minimal
  • Flawed education system & private tuition
  • National Press Day @DIPR : Gallery
  • Book review of Ikigai
  • Free Filmmaking Workshop at Guwahati
  • World Piles Day Colorectal Cancer
  • Diwali with a void
  • Heartache for loyal BJP ticket seekers
  • MPSC: Time for complete overhaul
  • Ningol Chakouba @ Delhi : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 16 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Erol Meerol Eigi Choirol
  • Ningol Chakouba organized at Delhi
  • The bare truth-the only truth :: Poem
  • Scientific freshwater prawn culture in NE
  • Equal footing for tribal population
  • Violence and conflict situation
  • Did Tribes Fight for Freedom of our Nation
  • COVID-19 Status 15 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Consultation: Protection of Rivers, Leimatak
  • Dr Naorem Bidyasagar- Bal Sahitya Puraskar
  • World Diabetes Day 2021
  • Padma awards now are more peoples' award
  • Bloodshed amid peace in state narrative
  • NE & Delhi: Bridging policy disconnect
  • Ningol Chakouba @ Thanga : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 14 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Nupana Khutlingba Samajda 'Nupa'
  • Through Her Eyes : Peace Festival of NE
  • Webinar on US Medical Licensing Exam
  • GMOs, is it a Yes or No?
  • Sobbing in solitude
  • Lesson learnt from ABP News-Cvoter survey
  • Glasgow Climate Pact, a step forward?
  • Ningol Chakkouba: origin & significance
  • COVID-19 Status 13 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Exhibition on Judicial Establishments
  • My namesake
  • Kidney patient must take fistula seriously
  • What to see & what to do at Kangla Fort
  • COVID-19 Status 12 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Meetei tribe bears more tribal characters..
  • Scholarship payment for OBC & SC students
  • Do you know ? :: Poem
  • COVAXIN data published in The Lancet
  • Disturbing vaccine hesitancy trend
  • Chinese village in Arunachal Pradesh
  • Online Teaching in a Pandemic World
  • COVID-19 Status 11 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • State Level Moot-Court Competition
  • Ecological task force in Manipur #2
  • Makeup Competition - Lumiere 2021
  • Essential winter skin care tips
  • Inadequacy of women in decision making
  • Election under the shadow of Covid
  • Ningol Chakouba Shopping #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 10 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Legal Services / Commendation Ceremony
  • Handloom & Handicraft of NE in Kolkata
  • Upcoming election: View on social auditing
  • Organic Farming
  • Task cut out for school, college
  • Rise of drug mafias: An impending challenge
  • Ningol Chakouba @ Itanagar : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 09 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Ningol Chakouba organized at Arunachal
  • Resolution: Climate Change in Manipur
  • Consultation on Climate Change in Manipur
  • Firecracker hub of Sivakasi in TN
  • Season of turncoats
  • Of defection and Assembly election
  • Ningol Chakouba @ Pune : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 08 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Quarantine Center Tamnalai : e-premiered
  • Discussion :: Youth & Electoral Politics -II
  • Ningol Chakouba organized at Pune
  • A new jurisprudence for political prisoners
  • Private sector shaping healthcare landscape
  • Preparation to tackle Covid spread during poll
  • Ching-Tam Ningol Chakouba : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 07 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • The worth of my sweat :: Poem
  • Career in science for development
  • Despite India-China disputes, trade persist
  • Chronic shortage in fish production
  • The other parties too matter : NPP & NPF
  • Ningol Chakouba Fish Fair : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 06 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • The Mindless Race for Marks
  • Ecological task force in Manipur #1
  • Plastic is a blessing in disguise
  • Ningols on way to her mapam: Gallery
  • Essence of Ningol Chakkouba
  • Kang Tournament @Pishum #2 : Gallery
  • Kwak Tanba @Sana Konung #3 : Gallery
  • Unity Ride @ Khoupum, Noney : Gallery
  • Loktak & Imphal Valley Landscape: Gallery
  • Mera Houchongba @ Kangla #2 : Gallery
  • ZMlgdr AEKoIn :: Seireng
  • Bor khoiramnaba @Hiyangthang #3 : Gallery
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Mera Houchongba @ Kangla #1 : Gallery
  • Abonmai: Shutdown- 4 Oct #3: Gallery
  • Bishwamitra Chongtham - Boxing: Gallery
  • Saikhom Mirabai: Olympics #2: Gallery
  • Manipur Olympians reception : Gallery
  • Mary Kom reception- Aug 20: Gallery
  • Hijam Gourashyam : Manipur Sahitya
  • Sushila Likmabam reception- Aug 18: Gallery
  • S Nilakanta / P Sushila [Aug 11] #2 : Gallery
  • S Nilakanta / P Sushila [Aug 11] #1 : Gallery
  • Mirabai felicitated truck drivers: Gallery
  • Saikhom Mirabai @Imphal #3: Gallery
  • Saikhom Mirabai @Imphal #2: Gallery
  • Saikhom Mirabai @ Kakching: Gallery
  • Shanglakpam Nilakanta: Olympics #2: Gallery
  • Sushila Pukhrambam :: Olympics : Gallery
  • Saikhom Mirabai : Tokyo Olympics 2020
  • Pukhrambam Sushila : Tokyo Olympics Dream
  • Sushila Likmabam: Olympics Dream: Gallery