Regional

Biren reminds hills and valley people of common ancestry

Correspondent IMPHAL, Oct 13 | Publish Date: 10/13/2019 11:40:37 AM IST

Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh and titular king Leishemba Sanajaoba led in the exchange of gifts between ethnic groups residing hills and valley on the occasion of “Mera Houchongba” on Sunday.

“Mera Houchongba”, the only common festival of indigenous communities of Manipur was celebrated with pomp and gaiety in Imphal’s Kangla fort on Sunday.

The traditional festival which symbolises brotherhood and unity among various indigenous people settled in both hill and valley of state has been celebrated since time immemorial on the full moon day of Mera, the seventh month of Manipuri lunar calendar.

Besides the state level celebration function in Imphal’s Kangla fort, the festival was celebrated at various levels in different parts of the state with exchange of gifts among the ethnic groups being the main highlight. Attending the main event of exchange of gifts at the state level celebration, chief minister N Biren Singh suggested that ancient stories of brotherhood and civilization of Manipur should be included in the school and college syllabus.

This will enable young generation know that people residing in the hill and valley of Manipur share a common ancestry and have unbreakable blood relation, he said.  Stating that ancient chronicles and legends were the testimony of this fraternal bonding, Singh said, “No one can frame or change history.” 

“Mera Wayungba or Mera Thaomei Thaanba still narrates the age-old story of how the younger brother who went down to the valley signalled to his elder brother in the hill about his wellbeing,” he said. The chief minister added that the incumbent government has been putting in sincere efforts to retain fraternal bonding and peaceful co-existence among different communities of the state ever since its inception on March 15, 2017.  Singh said that Mera Houchongba was independently celebrated by different institutions and bodies including Lainingthgou Sanamahi Temple Board and Royal Palace earlier. 

As the day reminds the unbreakable bond of brotherhood among different communities, the state government decided to bring all these institutions together to jointly celebrate the festival at the state level in a grand manner from 2017, he added.

He reminded that both people of hill and valley not only suffered together but also fought jointly every time Manipur faced external aggressions from Awa (Burma) and the British. 

As such, all these instances and stories of unity and togetherness should never be forgotten and overlooked, he opined. As in past years, performing age-old rituals, exchange of gifts and presentation of colourful cultural items of different communities were the main highlights of this year’s Mera Houchongba celebration.

Earlier in the morning, the age-old rituals like Mera Men Tongba and Yenkhong Tamba were performed at Sana Konung (Royal Palace) in Imphal to strengthen the fraternal bond among people of different ethnic communities. 

Later, a large number of people from different hill and valley districts gathered at Royal Palace and took out a colourful traditional procession upto Kangla as part of the celebration.

The festival is celebrated in the valley where people from the  hills people led by their village heads come to the state capital with their traditional costumes along with their indigenous handicraft produces and vegetables collected from their land and exchange with the same materials with the valley people.

It is said that during the reign of King in Manipur, people of hills used to come on this day to the royal palace and celebrate the festival with the king.

During the day, chiefs of hill village offered goods brought by them to the King while they held “thabal chongba” a traditional style of dance and dine together to during the night.

Chiefs and leaders of various tribal villages across the state took part in the state level celebration of the only traditional customary common festival of all ethnic groups of Manipur hosted by titular king and chief minister.

 

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