“Chakaan Gaan-Ngai” a five-day long post harvest festival of the non-Christian Kabui community settled in Manipur kicked off on Tuesday with great funfair.
Taking part in the state level celebration function held at Palace compound, Imphal, Chief Minister, O Ibobi Singh called for preserving the age old culture of the Kabui community.
The festival which is a commonly celebrated by the Zeliangrong (a common named of three tribes-Rongmei, Zemei and Liangmei) people before the advent of Christianity is celebrated by the Kabuis (Rongmei settled in valley areas who called themselves Kabui) settled in the valley areas of Manipur. However, many have stopped celebrating the festival after adopting of Christianity.
Kabuis settled across the valley areas of the state that refused to adopt Christianity even though others settled in hill areas adopted Christianity, celebrate the festival every year on 13th day of the Manipuri lunar month of Wakching (December-January) every year.
Only these groups settling in valley area celebrate the festival with strict tradition. This group is the only ones among the Zeliangrong community who follow their own indigenous religion.
Father of Ganglouna Kamei recalled the origin of the festival and said Gann-Ngai festival started first during the time of Tingpurengsonnang (believed to be the first king of the Kabuis. There was a common dormitory of man, animals, creatures, etc. called Khangchu (Dormitory) and he was the patriarch of the dormitory.
He taught men knowledge of cultivation and cultural activities, system of worship of gods etc. With the development of wisdom and intellect, men started cultivating and receiving abundant harvest and offered crops to Tingkao Ragawang, the supreme god and invoked for longevity of life for coming year.
On the occasion, the Kabuis offered food and drinks to the departed soul. Thus, the Gaan-Ngai evolved from the house of Tingpurengsonnang, he added.
With the efforts of the community leaders, the festival is now celebrated by other Zeliangrong people, but with slight diversion from the traditional way, he further observed.
Prof. Gangmumei Kamei, former minister of Manipur in his writing stated the Gaan-Ngai was the greatest festival of the Zeliangrong people who inhabited in the state of Manipur, Assam and Nagaland.
Residents of Kabui villages in Imphal also expressed happiness that others have celebrating the festival, and help them preserve the tradition. They also expressed hope that more will come up to participate in the celebration.
The state government in order to preserve the age old customs and tradition of the community declared general holiday on this day, said Chief Minister, O Ibobi Singh who took part in the state level celebration of the festival. The celebration was marked by inter-village dance competition.
Dance groups of Kubui village of Keishamthong, Chingmeirong, Majorkhul, Palace compound, Swambung, Pandon etc. of Imphal took part in competition.