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INDIGENOUS GAMES OF MANIPUR

INDIGENOUS GAMES OF MANIPUR

Manipur lies between 23.800 N Latitude and 93.030 E and 94.780 E Longitude. The geographical location and  the climate have great influence to the living conditions and habits of the people in general.

Hill people are tough and heavy so they are suitable more for slower games like Football, Shotput and Boxing etc. Where as people of the valley are lighter and faster suitable for games like Hockey, Race, and Fencing etc.

From the above factors, indigenous games of Hill and Valley can be classified as (A) Outdoor and  (B) Indoor.

(A) Outdoor Indigenous Games

1   Mukna
2   Mukna Kangjei (Khong Kangjei)
3   Sagol Kangjei
4   Yubi Lakpi (Capture of cocunut)
5   Woo-Laobi
6   Hiyang-Tannaba
7   Arambai Hunba

1. Mukna (Manipuri Wrestling)

Mukna, generally regarded as one of the manliest of sports has been perhaps with Manipuris from time immemorial. It is a very popular game of two persons who are trained by the village 'Ojha' (Master), who received the title of 'Jatra' (Unbeaten) person. It has fundamental Rules agreed by all Mukna organizations and& with Royal Consent. Traditionally the game is controlled and organised by Pana Loisang of the Ruler of the state and village organizations. There are four Panas-Ahallup, Naharup, Khabam and Laipham who control all fixtures and time for the games and State Meet in which Final is invariably graced by the ruler and presents the Title of Jatra (Champion) for the year along with reward of Thum Nama ( A ful bag of salt) and Ngabong Phi (hand made cloth of coton yarn), exemption of all state duties and Ningham Samjin dress (traditional).

The game has two categories (1) Takhatnabi (League), (2) Naitom (Knockout). The young talents work and play all the year round with dedication for the title of 'Jatra' (Champion) of Mukna of Manipur.

2. Mukna Kangjei (Khong Kangjei)

Manipuris play Mukna Kangjei, a game which combines the arts of mukna ( like wrestling) and Kangjei (Cane Stick). to play the ball made of seasoned bamboo roots.

The origin of the game goes back well to Aniconic worship. People celebrate 'Lai Haraoba' (festival to please traditional deities) and include this item to mark the end of the festival. Pandits believe that Khagemba Ningthou (King) - (1597-1652) patronised this game. In later generation, the game is organised in the villages. Presently, associations are formed in Panas with rules and regulations of Mukna Kangjei.

The game is played by two teams each consisting of seven players. All players hold a natural cane stick with root, gradually increasing the size of the root, to the lenght of about seven inches to play the ball made out of seasoned bamboo roots of approximately a diameter of four inches.

The players put on Mukna Kisi Phijet ( dress of cloth knot) to secure protection and holding each other. At present a short pant is added below Kisi ( like cloth belt with knots).

The game starts by throwing the ball in front of the panjenbas (leaders) of the two teams standing face to face to each other on the line. If possible they can pick up the ball and run. The process of running and obstructing each other to put the ball on the goal line of the ground is allowed, Pun onba (change of side) and end of the game is given by the command of the umpire. The rules for the game is known as Kangjei lon. It has improved a lot and was demonstrated during the Fifth; National Games 1999 at Imphal.

3. Sagol Kangjei

To Manipuris according to Chaitharol-kumbaba, a Royal Chronicle of Manipur King Kangba who ruled Manipur much earlier than Nongda Lairen Pakhangba (33 AD) introduced Sagol Kangjei (Kangjei on horse back). Further regular playing of this game commenced in 1606 during the reign of King Khagemba under newly framed rules of the game.

The game requires perfect control of the pony, the stick and the ball with profiency of riding. The sense of 'fair Play' was the main guided factor of this game.

This is played between two teams of Seven players a side. During the time of the late Sir Chandrakirti Singh, K.C.S.I Maharaja of Manipur introduced regular game at Mapal Kangjeibung ( now near Tikendrajit Park) on the ground of Sana-Lamjei (length 160 and 80 width in dimension) being one Lamjei equal to 6 ft. The game can be played in smaller ground also if occasion demands under existing rules except restriction adopted by the late Maharaja Sir Churachand Singh K.C,S.I., C.B.E. "Tupnaba Yadaba" crossing line of the approach of the player while the ball under his control in 1928. Earlier, there was no definite rules for foul in traditional Sagol Kangjei.

Manipur has produced players of outstanding calibres like Yubaraj Bir Tikendraji (Senapati of Manipur Army) as legendary player described by Mrs. Grimhood (1887-90). After 1891, Manipur produced outstanding players like (L) Ojha Tombi and Shyamjai Sharma who never had the chance to play in international tournament. From the history it is an established fact and accepted that Manipur is the Birth Place of Polo of the World.

Let us keep it up. Long live Manipur Sagol Kangjei

4.Yubi Lakpi

Yubi (Coconut) Lakpi (capturing). The game of yubi lakpi (coconut capturing) is a tough Individual game. Before the start of the game, players rub their bodies with mustard oil and water to make slippery to catch each other.A coconut properly soaked with oil is place in front of the Chief guest of the function.

The players put on kisi (Langot) on an underpant properly tied in front. A senior Jatra is the umpire of the game to start and check fouls of the players. Before the start the coconut is placed in front of the seat of the Chief Guest. Official game is held on the occassion of the Holy Festival of Shri& Govindajee at palace ground and with Royal presence. This game is closely organised for the religious Holy Festival of Manipur

5. Woolaobi

Woolaobi is an outdoor game mainly played by the Female. Meitei Mythology believe that Umang Lai Heloi Taret (Seven dieties seven sisters) play this game on the Courtyard of the temple of UMANG LAI LAIREMBI.

Number of the participants were not fixed but divided the participants into two groups ( size now as per agreement). Players are divided as:-

(1) Raiders (Attackers)
(2) Defenders (Avoiders)


Action of raider

Say "woo" without stopping as long as they can continue and try  to touch the avoiders. If a raider touches an Avoider is out.This process goes on till avoiders are out or surrender.

If a raider fails to say "woo" or out of breadth, Raider is out. Points are counted on the elimination of Raiders/Defenders.

Change of Side

If Raiders are tired they declare for change. Now time limit is decided for change. The outline principles of Woo-Laobi is very much similar to that of Kabaddi in India.

The ground (court) is not marked, normally the open space available within the premises of the house or temple is used for the game. This game, is very much liked by the girls and also became a source of talent in Kabaddi.

6. Hiyang Tannaba

Hiyang Tannaba (Boat Race) : Hiyang tannaba (Hi Yangba Tannaba) is a trdinional function of the Panas. This is held during the month of November. This was introduced during the time of Maharaja Khunjaoba, the second son of Khagemba , who dug the Kangla Moat around the Palace to make it impregnable in the year of 1660 after he ascended the throne in 1652.

In the traditional function two boats "Tanahi" (Race Boat) are detailed for leaders known as " Tengmai Lappa". In each boat forty Hiroys (Boatsman) operate the boat."Hiyang Hiren" (Main Boat) is meant for Vishnu Deva Ningthou (The King) and follow the two race boats. The boat which reaches the finishing line is the winner and all boatsman raise their (Nows) oars high in the air as a sign of reaching the finishing line first and thus the winner of the race is declared. The leader pays his respect to the deity Vishnu Dev and the King of Manipur.

7. Arambai Hunba

People of Manipur are very fond of riding horse specially those who are in the village near the breeding areas. Since the ponies are easily available , the young boys get the chance of riding ponies without saddle on horse back. Sometimes they ride horse using a rope in place of regular Bridle throwing branches of small trees in place of Arambai. This pratice helped the Manipur Arambai force as a martial art which was very much required during the advance and withdrawal of forces.

This art was very popular as an indigenous game of the youth of Manipur. This game is dispalyed even now , during the festival " Kwak Jatra" after Durga Puja.

(B) Indoor Indigenous Games

Kang

Kang is played by both male and female Meities of Manipur. Manipuris believe Kang is a game played by deity " Panthoibi". It is also believed that Manipuris began to play this game well before Vaishnavism came to Manipur.

It is culturally a fine game of Manipur specially of Meiteis. It is played under a shed of building on an earth ground ( court) smoothly levelled to suit the course of the 'Kang' the target on the court. It is well marked for the respective positions of the players of both to hit the target on the court. It has rules and regulations formed by the associations to suit the occasions of the games either for tournaments or Friendly. The dignitaries of the Palace , even Maharani and Maharaja also participated on social functions. In olden days 'Kang' was played during summer, starting from Cheiraoba (Manipur New Year) to kang Chingba (Rath Yatra). Presently the game is played in several touranaments throughout the year, organised by the Associations. Rules and regulations have been modified to suit the improved process of the game. It is a very popular indoor game of Meiteis.

Courtesy : Rk Madhuryajit

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