TODAY -

Institution Of Phamnaiba Loishang
Moirang and Ebuthou Thangjing :: Part 14

Hemamcha Shobha *



Ching-ngu Thangjing Laikon : Moirang
Ching-ngu Thangjing Laikon at Moirang :: Pix by Jinendra Maibam



INSTITUTION OF PHAMNAIBA LOISHANG

The organizational structures of various Loishangs for the smooth conduct of Moirang Haraoba at Thangjing Yaikon convincingly explain that they are, more or less the parallels in the administration and governance of the kingdom of Moirang. Celebration of the festival at Thangjing Yaikon during periods ruled by successive kings of Moirang became very important and was a central part of every walk of life of the people who lived then in the kingdom. Just like a nucleus, it maintained and practiced everything connected with administration, defence and military matters, social and political affairs, religious ceremonies, agrarian activities, games and sports, recreations etc.

Intellectually it is very interesting because in those days, the king, the queen, the Phamnaibas (e.g. courtiers) and every one had to take part voluntarily without fail in the festival of Eputhou Haraoba. Every year it was also performed in routine manner. It attracted the passion and business of the people totally sometimes towards the festival. In a specific year it happened that the festival prolonged for months together and people even forgot to start their agricultural works on time.

As mentioned above various Loishangs or developments were established for the smooth conduct of Eputhou Haraoba in early period and the same tradition was handed down through different ages of history. In the process, besides the Loishangs several Panas (means Teams/Groups) were also formed to be constituted into different tier-system of governance in the kingdom as well as celebration of the Haraoba in Thangjing Yaikon.

In the early period of the Moirangs there were four Panas. Literally, a Pana is a term used more culturally than political or administrative to mean a team or group of people based on local territorial division for the purpose of sports, competitions or festivals held in the presence of or sponsored by royal dignitaries. The four Panas found in some texts on early regimes were Chenglei Pana, Nganlou Pana, Higa Pana and Yaoshu Pana. Later two Panas in different nomenclature could be noticed and were found to have been very commonly referred or used in various festivals or sports where Iwang Puriklai, Mathang Khanba or other royal dignitaries could grace. They were Khunthak Pana and Khunkha Pana. Sometimes Pana were formed discriminately at the will of the king and the his royal brothers.

In modern time Pana system is still there but it is confined to Thangjing Yaikon during the Haraoba festival of Eputhou Thangjing. It has, however, undergone a change in nomenclature again. They are Eputhou Pana and Ebenthou Pana. On the day and occasion of Mukna Lamjel of Moirang Haraoba Eputhou Pana and Epenthou Pana would be represented by two teams of competitors to join Mukna (a kind of wrestling in Manipuri Style) and Lamjel (means race). Any one who does not belong to either of the Panas will be restricted from participating in the said Mukna or Lamjel.

TWO PARALLEL INSTITUTIONS

Very often mistakes are done on account of confusion between Cheirap Loishang or Wayel Cheirap and Phamnaiba Loishang which are found very common in the literature and text of the history of Moirang. Cheirap Loishang was the highest seat of administration in the kingdom of Moirang and Wayel Cheirap was the highest court for trial and judgment. In modern sense Cheirap Loishang is the executive and Wayel Cheirap is the judiciary. These two were combined in the kingdom because absolute monarchy/kingship was the system of government. The seat of Cheirap Loishangs and Wayel Cheirap was at Keke Kangla. And Phamnaiba Loishang was the collective organization/ department formed for the purpose of Eputhou Haraoba. Some other Loishangs (inclusive in Phamnaiba Loishang) were Aamaiba, Amaibi, Yoirenhanba etc.

Steadily in due course of time, management and promotion of functionaries in various Loishangs became imperative in view of the prevailing situations. Those management and promotional affairs were done in accordance with a set of principles known as Phamlon. Literally Phamlon mean principles or rules on the basis of which different posts were created and promotions in various Loishangs were made and 'protocol' regulated as well.

Phamlon is of two kinds. One is the Phamlon of God known as Thangjing Phamlon and also known as Phamlup. It was the posts existed in pre-historic time and therefore, could not be subject to change. The other is the Phamlon created by successive human kings and as such, changeable and even could be abolished from time to time according to socio-political exigencies. They were called Khonglup.

The administrative system of then ancient kingdom of Moirang rather than the festival of Thangjing Haraoba was comparatively quite amazing and advanced too that there were decentralized tier system of governance based on certain principles and well-organized plans, skill and ability of the rulers and more pertinently good relationship between the ruler and the ruled. The whole kingdom was divided into eight Leikais (also known as Khunphams which meant villages). From administrative point of view it was at the lowest tier of the administrative system and an office known as Khunphamthou was formed. Khunphamthou is a compound word of 'Khunpham' which means village and 'Thou' means duty.

For every locality which was eight in number in the kingdom there was a Khunphamthou who was bounded with a duty to look after the welfare of the subjects under his authority. In the present administrative set up it is a typical local self government. The second tier was Naiphamthou. It was an administrative council consisting of sixty four Phamnaibas or courtiers. Naiphamthou is a compound word of 'Nai' or 'Naipham' (taken from Phamnaiba/ Phamdou which means courtier) and 'Thou' meaning duly and function. It worked at the higher level and took responsibility for the administration of the kingdom. The king used to take into confidence the body in matter of deliberation, decision and execution of his responsibilities and functions and delegated powers sometimes to capable courtiers as and when necessary.

Likewise Phamnaiba Loishang, the council of courtiers constituted for the purpose of Haraoba festival also consisted of sixty four Phamdous to be represented as nominees of various heads or in-charge from each Leikai or Khunpham. A rare exception is however found in the documents of Moirang Thangjing Haraoba case, 1950 that Phamnaiba Loishang was found to have its number of Phamnaibas at eighty. Protocol on seating arrangement in order was simple with the king at the top to be followed by Khadrakpa, Mantri, Pukhramba and Nongthomba in a single row whilst Selungba at the head of another row. So, the grading system in order of rank is the king, Khadalakpa (next to king), four Apanphams, Selungphams and their Phamdous (courtiers) in order of their post and ranks.

It is extremely interesting to know that a third tier known as Lambu was introduced during the reign of Iwang Puriklai Ura Khundaba (130-185 AD), the 11th king of Moirang. During the reign of the Iwang Pukiklai Moirang extended its territories far and wide and became Loilams or colonies. To control and look after the affairs of the Loilams and to collect Loipots (which meant annual colonial taxes) the third tier, Lambu (tax collector) was created.

Besides, there were important posts to facilitate in the internal administration of the kingdom. Mention may be made about Keirunghanba, officer/courtier in charge of food and grains. Here 'Kei' meant granary house and 'Hanba' meant head. Keipham or location is said to have been situated at Moirang Nganglou Leikai, the present Moirang Chengei Leikai. 'Chengei' is a transformed word for 'Cheng-Kei' in which 'Cheng' stands for rice or paddy and 'Kei' for granary house as mentioned above.

Other courtiers were Ngarunghanba who was the head of the department of fishery; Sarunghanba, the head of the department of warfare with a number of Lakpas, namely, Pakhang-Lakpa who was in charge of male youths; Leiroi-Hanba who headed the department of flori-culture. In addition to these Hanbas and Lakpas although orderly and concrete patterning could not be maintained there was alot of other posts or Phandous. A detail scientific research could be undertaken to bring more light on the issues and structures of unexplored Phamthous of Cheirap Loishang or Phamnaiba Loishang.

It is however, acceptable that in the original Phamnaiba Loishang there were sixty four courtiers with eight Phamthous from each of the eight Leikais or Khunphams in the Kingdom of Moirang. It was modified into a Loishang of sixty eight courtiers where four more courtiers were added during regime of Ningthouja kings in Moirang. As such, new posts were created and appointed in order to suit their interest.

LAI ETABA or EKOUBA

It was so performed in the old periods as the first opening ritual items of the festival. Ekouba which mean E stands for 'water' of Kouba means 'call upon' and Yaibirel Sidaba Thawai means immortal soul. Kayaba did the work of calling upon soul from the water which signifies in general that all living organisms originated from beneath the water or sea. Now by offering and worshipping four Khayoms (a wrapped-up bundle of plantain leave containing all the needed articles) to the four gods of Northwestern Chuk- Koubru; the Northeastern Chuk-Marjing, the Southeastern Chuk-Wangbren or Khana Chaoba, the Southwestern Chuk -Sandhong which all indicate four directions known in Haraorol as Chukkhongs. They were all prayed, offered and invited by Thonglen Haying Khoicha. Next Kayaba performed the same ritual offerings with eight Khayoms to the eight gods of Sungdai-corner. The Sungdai gods were-Kandou; Thangma-Lingba, Tubu Mitu; Yakpa-Lingba; Khoma Lingba; Ureipan; Likilong and Ureng Pan.

Next was Leirai Yukhangba which was done by offering negotiating to sixty one Saroi-Ngarois-wild devils who are ever on the look out to injure mankind. Another Khayom was also used to offer with prayers which was taken as a combined one both for Heaven and Earth, and then dropped it into the water. Such a typical Khayom, in the modern period of Lai Haraoba, is called as Thak-Khayom which is meant for Atingnga-Heavenly Father and Laimarel-Terrestrial Mother. Here it is worth mentioning that the four Apanphams-of Phamnaiba Loisang i.e. four courtiers included in the phamlon of Thangjing Cheirap Loishang represents the four divine figures of four chuks while eight Phamlons of eight Leikai Lakpa–leader or councillors are termed as representation of eight Gods of Sunglai.

Ekouba in 1933: The Enticing of Thangjing
Ekouba in 1933: The Enticing of Thangjing. Courtesy: J. Shakespear



Further in continuing the programme, the two Hiri ––thread ropes, one for Laiyingthou - Father God and the other for Leimarel-Mother Goddess were stretched and connected with water-Hi+Yai means souls, to the two earthened pots-which all were done through Heirao Heijing in the present day festival where Amaibahanba in the centre and outflanked by Yoirenchenba and Asiehanba. The right side hiri i.e. Laiyingthou Hiri should be handled and served by nine Laiphungthou while the left one i.e. Leimarel Hiri was to be handled and guarded by nine Lairembis.

Playing all the instruments used in those days specially by Leinung Mori Asieba who played on Pena, a folk music instrument and singing the verses of Eputhou in Khunthoklon - creative prayers, the souls were called upon through the two Hiris and the collected into the two earthened pots called Ehaiphu. It is so called because water is the source of blood, so the soul or blood i.e Yaibirel is now lifted up from the water and kept in the pots which are swinging and fleeting in the air - hence. Ehaiphu Phuhing has been named. Nowadays mankind has preserved and worshipped it as Erepphu singnifying birth and life of all human beings since then.

J. Shakespear, the then Political Agent of Manipur witnessed the ritulistic programme in 1913 and remarked as "The female Maibi intones a long incantation interpersed with ex-tempore prayers to Thangjing to manifest himself and bless the country. She gets more and more excited and sings quicker and quicker and then suddenly stops; Thangjing has come". This may mean that the female Maibi might be reckoned on her incantation by an invisible divine power to stop the prayers that the soul (Yaibirel) or Thangjing has come or arrived at the spot.

YAKEIBA

Yakeiba was performed and conducted every day in and day out just at dawn during the festival. This was done by Keke Aseiba Moirang Cheichingba meant playing on Pena and singing creative hymns and awakening Eputhou Thangching. This was in the olden days or in ancient Lai Haraolol called as Sikaplon. Indeed it was a cradle song for awakening Eputhou from rest and sleep and to be done every dawn. Finally Keke Amaiba and Moirang Amaibi played on rings and bells and screened up Eputhou's golden curtain and then followed and served other needful rites after awakening of Eputhou which is called "Eru- Laisheng" and proceeded to other items like Tara Luk Katpa means lunch and others. Kontharol: Kon means small pieces of gold and silver coins, thaba means singing by playing of verses by Amaibi.

Since long historical past it had been used by the offering of Kon thereby giving laipao-messages, information and invitation to all the Laiyingthou of heaven and earth to come down and attend the Haraoba of Chingoo Thangching. It was usually conducted by Enungma Nunglon Laikharol Taret; Keke Amaiba Taret in ancient period so that it has become an important item of the festival's programme before the start of day to day Lai Haraoba which is still in vague.

to be continued ....



About the Book:

Source Author: Hemamcha Shobha (b.1941), President of Moirang Thangjing Yageirel Marup [Register No: 1025/1972] and Chief Editor of 'Yageirol'.
Reproduced from Chapter - 3 of his book 'Moirang and Ebuthou Thangjing'
for public reading by: Shanjoy Mairembam, London (UK), shanjoym (at) gmail (dot) com




* Shanjoy Mairembam , resident of UK, regularly contributes to e-pao.net. He is sharing this book for public consumption and can be contacted at shanjoym (at) gmail (dot) com
This article was webcasted on August 03 2012.


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