Manipur, the word literally means a land full of jewels. This princely State offers a lot of things to its visitors from serene surroundings to blue hills and from picturesque mountain life to its quaint atmosphere. It’s a beautiful place in the Northeastern part of India. This state boosts rich heritage and the people are famous for their artistic knowledge and creative abilities especially in handicrafts and handloom industries.
History of Manipur
The history of this opulent state of Manipur is reflected by mythologies, written histories and archaeological remains and research. The ancient name for Manipur was Kangleipak. In the ancient times, the people who lived across the Manipur’s valley alongside the Kukis and Nagas in hills are known as the Meetei People. According to the mythology, the origin starts from the “Pakhangpa” reign by giving birth to the 7 clans of the Meetei society.
With the advent of Vaishnavism School, changes have been seen in the religious history of the place. The early history of the state is set forth in a chronicle named “Cheitharon Kumbaba”. In 1891, it was recognized as a huge state under the British rule. During World War II, Manipur was battle scene between the Allied forces and Japanese. After war, a democratic government in 1947 was formed with “Maharaja” being the Executive head. In 1949, the Legislative Assembly was suspended permanently and the state became a part of the Republic India. Manipur was a Union Territory in the year 1956 and in 1972; it was a full-blown state with Mohammed Alimuddin as its first Chief Minister.
Traditional Wear of Manipur
Manipuri’s adopt a completely distinct style when it comes to clothing. The outfits are designed to enhance comfort and functionality. The local outfit for women consists of a dupatta or a shawl known as “Innaphi” and “Phanek” (skirts mostly hand-woven) which they wrap around their chests. The Mayek Naibi (occasional Phaneks) are often in stripes whereas the casually Phaneks are available in traditional block colors. The traditional dress for men is “Dhotis” (4.5 m long) which are paired with Bundis (jackets). On occasions, men even wear turban or “Pagri” (mostly white).
Nowadays, the glimpse of Manipur traditional outfits and attire are mostly seen during the festive seasons. Festivals like Raas Leela are very popular here. During this festival, the women wear green or red kumins and Potlois (a form of Phanek). These have embellishments like shiny borders and mirrors.
The regular dressing of the state includes the normal apparels like suits, kurti’s, for girls and jeans and trousers for boys.
The customs of Manipur are always associated with grandeur and colors. Just like that, the wedding of Manipuri reflects the colorful ambience of the state. The dress of the wedding holds a very significant part of the wedding in the community. The groom wears “Dhotti-Kurta” (white) with a “Pagri” whereas the bride is adorn in a conventional skirt “Rasila”. This skirts has a splash of bright colors.
The Rituals of Weddings
1. A women greets the Groom and his friends & relatives at the entrance. She offers Tamul, Pan, Betel nuts, etc.
2. The arrangements for sitting and the “Pandal” is made around the Tulsi plant.
3. In the respect of Groom, a traditionally decorated “DIYA” is lightened.
4. The groom’s feet are washed by a younger brother of the bride.
5. The women from both sides, place a fish (Taki) in water. If the fishes move side by side, then it is considered favorable.
6. First, the food is offered to the Divinities and then to the guests.
7. On the fifth day of the wedding, the bride visits her parents.
The Manipuri’s consider wedding as the most joyous celebration. As much as the Manipur people take pleasure in this holy ceremony of binding two people together in a relationship of affection and love, they respect and understand the value of the vow that the two would share for lifetime.
Culture of Manipur
The Manipur people have an inevitable love for their culture. They are very popular for their pleasant impression and vibrant personalities. The people of the state include various sects like Naga, Meitei, Meitei Pangal, kuki and other vibrant communities. For years, these communities have been living together serenely. Each community has its own individual traditions and culture. In remote areas, people still live while taking pleasure of their lives to the most.
Dance of Manipur
The real culture & traditions of the state are reflected by its drama & dance. Raas Lila or the representation of the love story of Krishna & Radha dominates the Manipur’s performing arts. Each tribe (total 29) of the state have their own individual dance forms which includes Lai Haroba or celebration dance of Gods, Mao Naga, Pung Cholem or the Mridang dance, the Malbe Jagoi dance by priestess, the Thangal Surang dance and many more.
The people of Manipur are very fond of dance and music. Some of the famous Manipuri folk music are Khullong Ishei, Pena Ishei and Lai Haraoba Ishei. Mostly, all forms of music are along with an unique instrument called “Pena”. Some of the classical, devotional and religious songs of the state are Thabal Chongba, gaur padas, Nat, Dhob, Napi Pala and many more. Other significant class of music are the “Manohar Sai” and “Khubaishei” ( mostly accompanied with clapping).
Earlier, the Manipuri dining was a “take a seat” affair, accompanied by plates of banana-leaf. Rice is the favorite diet of the people, served with fish, meat and almost everything. A traditional forte known as “Kabok” (vegetable fried rice) is extremely popular in the state. The cuisines are affluent in non-vegetarian delicacies. Another fermented delicacy, Iromba is an assorted mixture of bamboo shoots, fish and vegetables.
Festival in Manipur
Manipur celebrates numerous festival and fairs, which keeps the cheeriness alive in the Manipuri’s. There are a lot of social, cultural and religious celebrations to keep up the aspirations of the people. Some of the most popular ones are Dol Jatra, Kwak Jatra, Rath Jatra, Ni, Lai-Haraoba, Lui Ngai, Ramjan ID, Ningol Chakouba, KUT, Heikru Hidongba, Gang-Ngai, Cheiroba, Chumpha and Christmas.
Major Cities of Manipur
The main cities of Manipur are Bishnupur, Thoubal, Chandel, Tamenglong, Churachandpur, Senapati, Imphal (Capital City of Manipur).
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