Editorial – Prayer for a New Start

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The first day of the month of Sajibu is here again. On the Meitei lunar calendar, this is the beginning of another New Year. It is interesting that there are so many different dates on which the New Year is celebrated in different parts of the year. The one with the most following is of course January 1 on what has come to be known as the Christian calendar, although there is nothing to signify this has anything to do with Christianity. In fact as is evident from numerous articles, the celebration of New Year was once forbidden by the Church deeming it to be a heathen practice. Whatever the case may be, whichever date is celebrated as New Year by anybody, the notion of a year getting renewed on an annual basis cannot go away. And nobody is wrong for celebrating at different dates either, as long as the cycle is maintained, after all, the earth’s revolution around the sun is on a circular path and this being the case, any point on this circle can be marked as the beginning and by that virtue the end as well. Indeed, in any circular trajectory, the end and the beginning are coterminous.It may be convenient to have a fixed and universal New Year on January 1, but this is with a serious flaw too. Even those of us with just elementary knowledge of school geography knows that between the north and south hemisphere, the seasons are directly the reverse, so that a fixed New Year would amount to very different seasons being celebrated as New Year at the same time in the two hemispheres. The northern and southern hemisphere difference is just the most radical, but seasons vary from place to place, mostly on account of the latitude differences. Other factors include topography and degree of monsoon severity etc. This being the case, if New Year is not to be any arbitrary date but one that coincides with a major landmark in the cycle of season, it is only but expected that it should be celebrated at different times in different parts of the globe. What can be a more appropriate time for this celebration than the onset of the Spring season? Needless to serve the reminder again that Spring comes at different times for different places.
For Manipur and other lands in this latitude and topography, Spring somewhat coincides with April. It is the time the foliage begins to sprout and the sowing season is flagged off and ploughing of paddy fields begins after being allowed to lay fallow for nearly six months. Indeed, the first day of the new moon in the Meitei lunar calendar of Sajibu, is celebrated as New Year or Sajibu Cheiraoba traditionally, and this day is today. Meitei homes will see Spring cleaning followed by a special lunch, and then in the afternoon, a family outing to the Cheirao Ching for a climb to the summit and prayer there. It is a great day for children and parents alike, and indeed for everybody. We wish all our readers a very happy and prosperous Sajibu Cheiraoba. In the spirit of the tradition it is celebrated, we also wish for a good crop and all round peace and progress in the entire state.
But one gets the sense of being caught in a cliché making these too often parroted wishes. What then would we also wish besides these routine and thereby soulless ones? This is something everybody who takes part in this celebration should sit down and ponder through the day. We for one think that the focus on this day should gravitate around the all important question as to what are the most vexing problems besetting the state? What are the problems which have a profound bearing on not just the lives of everybody, but also have been a barrier on everybody’s prospect of a dignified life? What are our leaders doing about this? What are we as enlightened and empowered citizens doing about it? It would be unrealistic to expect the answer to these question to be found immediately just because everybody wish it on Sajibu Cheiraoba. But it would be extremely good and to the purpose if we all at least resolve to begin the soul search on these issues on such an auspicious day. Sometimes, it just needs a single spark to start the engine to a great new project. Our prayer is, a collective resolve on Sajibu Cheiraoba this time would be able to provide this magical spark to kick off a new beginning for the entire people of the state.

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