TODAY -

Essence of Ningol Chakkouba triumphing over gift race
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: November 06, 2021 -



NOTWITHSTANDING the clarion call given by civil society and religious organisations to prevent commercialisation of Ningol Chakkouba, it is unlikely that this centuries-old festival, whose essence revolves around bonding between brothers and sisters, could be restored to its originality.

With material possession considered essential to live life with all the worldly comforts, surplus spending on gifts to be presented to the married sisters and daughters by the male siblings or parents has been the dominant feature of this festival since the past many years with the wealthier families leading the race and the lower-middle class too trying to show off that they are no pushovers.

Outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the unprecedented scale of miseries suffered by many families either forced cancellation of the festival or its celebration in a low-key manner last year as there were fears that even simple congregation of family members is fraught with danger.

However, the celebration continued with extreme caution and without the usual festive mood as the monthly positivity rate when the festival was celebrated last year hovered around the 8 per cent mark.

This year too, many a family wouldn't be celebrating the festival as it has been a traditional for the Meetei community to abstain from all events of gaiety for at-least a year if a family member or close relative passes away.

Thus, with over 1900 lives, maximum of them from the Meetei dominated valley districts, lost to the pandemic, thousands of families would be naturally cursing the contagion as the state celebrates Ningol Chakkouba festival.

Subsequent to the vast improvement in the pandemic situation at the juncture, the past week or so has been marked by lower and middle class families thronging commercial outlets dealing in apparels, electronic goods and utensils whereas the richer ones have been booking and purchasing the costliest products available.

Such a mad rush for gifting gpods as per one's socio-economic position thus testifies that the sanely call for stopping the race for gifts will not have any serious takers and this trend will obviously persist in the coming years.

However, the negativity vibe surrounding the festival as a consequence of the race for gifting has not been able to entirely dilute the basic essence of Ningol Chakkouba for every family, rich and poor alike, looks forward to warmly welcome the sisters and daughters over a sumptuous lunch and share memorable events of yesteryears.

Feasting together not only makes the day, but also unites the family with the loved ones.

Ningol Chakkouba is one such festival celebrated by the people of Manipur that makes siblings lunch together and enjoy some quality time at their parental house after the sister's or daughter's marriage.

The festival, having its roots in the fourth century, is a celebration of the loving bond between brother and sister that gives an opportunity to strengthen ties within the family.

As a tradition, male members of a family send lunch invitation wrapped in betel leaf with betel nuts to married sisters while women wear their finest traditional Manipuri dresses, accessories and visit their parent's house with various eatables, like fruits, snacks and sweets.

After lunch, sisters/daughters are presented with gifts by their parents and brothers and they in turn showered blessings to their parents and brothers for a long, prosperous and healthy life.

Moreover, the recent trend of civil society organisations hosting Ningol Chakkouba feasts in different parts by inviting the non-Meetei womenfolk to strengthen unity and prosperity has only enriched the festival.

Thus, no matter how extravagant gifting has transformed the festival, Ningol Chakkouba's real essence of familial and societal bonding will always outweigh the negatives.



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