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E-Pao! Opinion - Pathetic treatment towards Sanamahi

Pathetic treatment towards Sanamahi

By: S Pari Khuman *



Right to religion is a golden opportunity given by the Constitution of India. Now it may be a matter of interest if we discuss a little about the Sanamahi temple.

The present Sanamahi temple made of bricks at Haying Khongbam Uphong Yumpham at Sanamahi complex near the 1st M.R. compound was constructed by eningthou Kullachandra, the last sovereign king of Manipur in 1891. When the Anglo-Manipur war broke out in April 1891, the image of Lainingthou Sanamahi was misplaced from one place to another.

After a long gap of eighty four years the Sanamahi devotees found the image of Lai-ningthou Sanamahi at the residence of one Leihaothabam Surjamani Sharma at Keishamthong Hodam Leirak. The devotees went to the residence of Surjamani in the month of September 1975 to take back the images for worshipping at its original temple at Haying Khongbal Uphong Yumpham.

The devotees failed to take back the images in that year as the Brahmin opposed to hand over the image of Lainingthou Sanamahi, therefore next year in 1976 a large number of devotees went again to the residence of Surjamani Sharma. Police opened fire to the innocent devotees and killed two youth devotees namely (1) Heisnam Kumar of Heingang village and (2) Oinam Chaoba of Oinam village. Such a cruel and pathetic treatment was done against the Sanamahi religion.

The incident is regarded as another black day in the history of Sanamahi religion. But, it resulted in paving a victorious step of the religion. That the Manipur Legislative Assembly has moved the Lainingthou Sanamahi Temple Bill on 3rd December 1976 and passed it accordingly and enacted the Lainingthou Sanamahi Temple Act 1976 (Manipur Act 2 of 1977).

At last after a long struggle for revival of democratic secularism the Sanamahi devotees were successful in bringing back the image of Laningthou Sanamahi and Ema Leimarel Sidabi to its original temple in the midnight of 13th October 1977.

We shall always remember R.K. Ranbir, the then Minister, Local Self Government and Youngmaso Saiza, the then Chief Minister of Manipur for extending moral and physical support in that historic event.

Now, the Sanamahi Temple is under the direct control of the Government of Manipur. There are three important steps taken up by the Manipur Legislative Assembly to support the Sanamahi religion.

First, there is the Sanamahi Temple Act 1976 mentioned above along with its rules and bye-laws. Under the said Act there is the Lainingthou Sanamahi Temple Board, constituted directly by the Govt. of Manipur. The concerned Deputy Commissioner shall be the Ex-Officio member and the member of the Board. One person having the rank of Under Secretary to the Govt. of Manipur is now holding the post of Executive Officer.

The second step was that, the committee on petition under the Chairmanship of S. Gopal Singh, M.L.A. submitted a report to the House on 30 December 2002 and passed two historic recommendations. The committee has recommended that (a) the existing Mahadeva Temple that adjoins the Sanamahi Temple be shifted to the compound of the Durga Temple situated in the western side of the Inter Battalion Road, (b) The committee further recommends that, with regard to the construction of a larger gate towards N.H. 39 as prayed by the petitioner an amicable settlement be made through internal negotiation between the L.S.T.B and 1st Battalion Manipur Rifles.

The eighteen report of the State Assembly also mentioned on page (1) that the present area of the Temple in its compound measuring and area of 98ft. x 108 ft. approx. within the compound of 1 st Battalion Manipur Rifles has a parameter of brick walls fencing.

The third steps taken up by the Manipur Legislative Assembly was that in another report of the House Committee under the Chairmanship of Dr. M. Nara Singh, Minister Art & Culture has presented a report on 25th July 2003 and adopted the resolution in the following lines.

"The House resolves to urge the Government of India to record Sanamahi Religion in the Census Report and also allot separate code number of the Religion in the Census Operation."

Not only the above three steps, the Govt. of Manipur has published in the Government gazette on 14th May 1980 and declared the said Temple at Haying Khongba Uphong Yumpham as protected monument under the Archaeological site and Remains Act 1976. Thanks to the Government of Manipur for all these secular support to Sanamahi Religion. However, despite several democratic resolution and recommendations passed by the State Assembly, a number of unexpected hurdles comes in the way against this indigenous religion.

The recommendations of the 18th report adopted in the house on 20th December 2002 is not still implemented. Under rule 258A of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Manipur Legislative Assembly the recommendations of the committee shall be implemented as early as possible and furnished interim reply within six months.

In other States even in Parliament the recommendations of the committee are generally given due respect and implemented accordingly. But in our state the recommendations of the house committee are neglected most of the time by the implementing departments.

Looking at the present temple is a pathetic or unsecular sight. There is no even a single latrine of this 115 yrs. old Temple. Hundreds and hundreds of devotees offer holy feast or Kuklen very often in the temple and suffer the unbearable problems due to unavailability of latrine or bathroom.

Special attention of the Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh and Chief Secretary of the State are mainly drawn to look into this matter and construct latrines and bathrooms at the north-western corner of the Temple Complex.

The Temple is owned by the Government itself not by the public, therefore, equal opportunities may please be provided equally as those of the Govindaji Temple. There are Gurudwaras for Sikhs, Masjids for Islam, Churches for Christians and Mandir for Hindus at Imphal city with all facilities as required by the devotees.

Alas!! there is no single latrine for the Sanamahi Temple of the Meetei community in particular and others in general. Even the running train and the flying aeroplanes has the facility of latrine.

We shall always be grateful to the Secular Progressive Front Government of Manipur if the above inconveniences are remove without further delay.


S Pari Khuman wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on September 10th, 2006


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