Puilon, a small Rongmei village, located in Nungba Hill Range under the Tamengrong District of Manipur, where a promising baby, Jadonang, was born in 1905.He was the younger of the three sons of Thiudai Marangmei and his mother was Tabonliu of Dangmei clan. The full name of Jadonang was Jadonang Marangmei.Madunang Marangmei was his elder brother and Tiningam Marangmei was his younger bother. But he had one younger sister, Sunlunglu Marangmei.
Jadonang Marangmei lost his father when he was a child. He grew up under his mother’s care. His brother; Madunang loved him dearly and never let him feel the absence of his father. He was descended from a very simple and cultured family. His mother foresaw him as an extra ordinary child. But at the same time she was afraid of all mysterious happening to him. She had some intuitions and believed that some day Jadonang would lead the Makam-mei (Makam means Zemei, Liangmei, Rongmei & Puimei) to the highest.
When Jadonang was around four years of age, while sleeping on the mat at the portico of his house, a cyclone came and he was swift away. Later he was found in the noon, unharmed, lying on a fresh and cozy shrubs near his house. The mother was over joy with relief.
At the younger age of five, young Jadonang went into trances for hours, even for four to five days.Somtimes for ten days. His trance was manifested as “Talking and meeting with Haipou Ragwang” (the Supreme God, the creator of Heaven and Earth).His long sleeps or trances were termed by his grandmother and maternal family as he was suffering from a dreaded disease like epilepsy. He underwent deep meditations or trances quite often as he grew older. This phenomenal behavior of Jadonang worried his mother very much and helpless. He was awakening one day due to shouting and weeping of his mother. He specifically told his worried mother not to disturb his trance or deep meditation. He further clarified and consoled his mother that his trance was nothing but meeting with Haipou Ragwang, who imparted him spiritual knowledge. His mother believed he would become a Mhu (a priest).Gradually he began to foretell the future of an individual or the village, which proved to be true. His undisputed spiritual discussions with the elderly persons proved his godly quality.Inspite of his young age, he suggested the elders to change the traditional way prevalent his village such as religious and social prejudices and superstitious beliefs. As a child, he was soft spoken and gentle, truth loving and serious in thoughts.
Occasionally he used to walk in the forest and found talking friendly with the unseen being. It was said that the unseen being was not other than Lord Vishnu. Sometimes in the forest he spent deep meditation for hours. His mother was greatly amazed by an incident, while returning home from the jhum field. The mother unloaded the basket containing the vegetables. The boy picked up the ripe chilies and pieces of ginger and told her not to collect the vegetables from other fields which did not belong to her. The mother was ashamed of but she was glad to see true nature and divinity of her son. The condition of the family began to improve as he grew older. He and his elder brother Madunang sometime had to carry belongings of British officials. From his childhood, he had seen British army passing through his village, since the village road connected with Silchar and Imphal.He was aware of Kuki Rebellion of 1917-1919 and had seen the movement of British Platoon in his village.He was aggrieved with the British oppression and exploitation over Makam people.During the Rebellion, the British failed to protect the Makam people who were not at war.The Kuki migrants of nineteen century separated the Native land of Makam leading to The KUKI-ZELIANGRONG FEUD.
There was a great famine in Puilon due to the flowering of bamboo.Jadonang was barely twelve years old at that time of famine. He told the elder people of the village that wrath of the divine famine could be saved through performance of religious rite by offering a mithun.The villagers offered a mithun to Haipou Ragwang.There after no such famine was heard but received a good and bountiful harvest during the life time of Jadonang.His proximity to Haipou Ragwang, prediction through deep meditation, healing all evils and calamities in the society, finding the root cause of diseases and traditional methods of treatments made Jadonang popular among the Makam communities. Many believed him that he was the God sent Messiah for Makam people. Jadonang was ordained as Mhu or priesthood after performing customary rite known as Raren loumei.Puilong village became a centre of religious institution of Makam communities.
JADONANG AS A RELIGIOUS AND SOCIAL REFORMER.
Jadonang worshipped Lord Bisnu or Bonchanu ( not to confuse with Hindu God-Vishnu) or God of Pubon or Bhuvan Hill in Binnakandi in the District of Cachar.The discovery of Bhuvan Cave had a great influence in Zeliangrong’s religion. The cave of the Bhuvan Hill was known as the abode of Lord Bisnu. Jadonang received divine power and enlightenment from Lord Bisnu. He propounded the indigenous religion of Zeliangrong as Heraka Religion. He inspired this name when he was in Bhuvan cave. He spread Heraka Religion to the Rongmei dwellers in Cachar also. He treated the sick people and prayed for the dead people. He frequently contacted Lord Bisnu in his deep meditation and received advices from Lord Bisnu. He visited the holy places. He was seen communicating to the
unseen being several times by his followers on the way to Bhuvan cave. His followers did not know what the conversations made with God was. He advised his followers to pray for what they wanted. Gaidinliu Pamei,a young girl from Nungkao (Longkao) village, came to know Jadonang in her dream journey to Bhuvan cave. She also became the follower Jadonang at the age of thirteen.
Zeliangrong people believed that Zeilad lakes are holy lakes. There are four Zeilad Lakes.These lakes are natural water bodies in the west bank of Barak in between Puilon and Chingkao and Bhuvan cave. The four Zeilad lakes are (1) Zeilad, the biggest lake among four lakes, (2) Goiphop-jei, the lake of tortoise because of abundant of tortoise, (3) Rou-jei, the cursed lake and (4) Nap sham-jei, the lake of paddy. Zadonang also undertook a journey to Zeilad Lake, which was believed to be a store of holy water and a store house of magical weapons. According to Gaidinliu, the deity of Zeilad Lake appeared in the form of a python. If they wished to possess the secret and magical weapons of sword (Khonchaibang) and a spear (Phentubui), they should sacrifice the head of a female mithun to the deity of Zeilad Lake. But the magical weapons were not received by them.
In those days, no temples were constructed by the Makam people. It was Jadonang,who reformed the traditional religion by constructing two temples at Puilon,one at Kekru Naga and one at Binnakandi in Cachar.Gaidinliu also constructed one at her birth place,Nungkao.This worshipping place was known as Kelumki.He enriched the Heraka Religion and removed the prejudices, orthodox ideas. He instructed the people to worship only one God, the Lord Bisnu. He was greatly emphasized on the physical and spiritual holiness at the time of worshipping in the temple. He advised his people to take bath before entering into the temple. A restriction was made for those who did not take bath.
Makam community were very discipline and strict in observance of age old customary gennas and taboos (Neimei, Rongmei language meaning Genna; Nuhmei, meaning Taboo).Temple (Kalumki) became the place of congregation for religious and social activities. In the temple Jadonang introduced to abolish certain social taboos and gennas. He abolished the taboos of first birth of a child in an individual or in a village, first birth of piglet,pup,chicken , dog climbing and vulture sitting on the roof of a house, delivery of still born baby, death of a woman after five days of delivery, first rain or hailstorm of a year, earthquake etc.He also asked the people to observe the following gennas like genna for good harvesting good crop, genna for protection of corn from rats and rodents and birds etc.He was not only a social and religious reformer. He was also a great composer of devotional and patriotic songs at the same time he composed new dance forms. It was said that most of the songs were composed when he was with Gaidinliu at the Bhuvan cave.
JADONANG AS A FREEDOM FIGHTER.
Makam Communities were gradually converting into Christianity mostly in the hills District of Tamengrong and its surroundings.Jadonnag was very aggrieved and pained to see his fellow people discarding the ancestral religion. The Christian Missionaries under the British administration were propagating Christianity all around the villages. Their policy was to promote Christianity and to establish the British Rule in Manipur. Above all, they wanted to suppress the Movement of Jadonang. They diverted all resources-man and money towards Rongmei, Zemei, Liangmei and Puimei.They won the confidence over some sections of native and converted them to Christianity. Some section of Christian belonging to Makam communities turned hostile to Jadonang and his Religion. Jadonang did not loss heart, rather he gained more spiritual energy. He encouraged construction of temples, KARUMKI, in Makam dominating areas and organized the people to avoid such conversion. He emphasized to follow the ancestral custom and to believe in the Heraka religion. He established Heraka Army,known as Riphen.
Jadonang was not pleased with the British for imposing House Tax in the Hills and forced labours to be rendered to the Government Officials, when they were on tour in the hills. He and his people opposed the two laws of Pothang Bekeri and Pothang Senkhai.The first law of Pothang Bekari stated that the villagers in the hills had to carry the goods and luggages of the Government Officials free of cost while they were on tour to the areas. In case of refusal they whipped the villagers and forced to carry the loads. The Second laws stated the villagers had to contribute money to feed the touring officials and other employees of the Government.
A regular massive training was imparted by him to the youths of Army (Riphen).The training consisted of catching cattle, cultivation of agricultural crops
and military training like gun shooting, gun powder making, spear hurling and making of traditional weapons etc. The young girls were trained by Gaidinliu.On getting the people’s momentum; Jadonang announced his objective of establishing, “Makam Gwangdi”, which meant Makam Kingdom. He coined the objective that Kacharies had their own King, so as Manipuris; what was wrong if Makammei had their own king. The exciting slogan of Jadonang was –“Makammei rui Gwang Tupuni” (meaning Makam People will be the rulers) which was inspired and believed by the masses. Gradually Makam people began to accept the idea of an independent state. They refused to cooperate with the Government’s orders. They denied to pay house tax to the British and did not participate in any executive works etc.However; Jadonang did not declare his policy of freedom movement, but he started a political movement under his trend of religious and social activities against the British Rule in Manipur,particulary in the hills region of Tamengrong.
Jadonang came to know about the Freedom Movement of the Indian National Congress under the able leadership of Mahatma Gandhi on his frequent visit to Binakandi and Lakhmipur in Cachar.Takhenang of Binakandi was his agent and mediator, who supplied all sorts of information to him. In 1926, after AICC Session at Gauhati, Gandhiji was scheduled to visit Silchar in January1927.Jadonang arranged a cultural dance programme in honour of Gandhji by taking 100 boys and 100 girls in Silchar.He could not meet Gandhiji because Gandhiji had postponed his tour programme to Silchar.He gained milestone in his movement against the British and he openly neglected the foreign policy. He did not salute Mr.S.J.Duncan,SDO of Tamengrong even if he met Mr.S.J.Duncan on the way in Tamengrong.Mr.Duncan could not tolerate the insult and decided to punish him.Mr.Duncan issued a warrant to Jinlakpou on 22.11.1928 to arrest Jadonang on charge of Independence.Jinlakpou was working as Lambu (peon cum messenger) and a petty road mohori under British Administration in Manipur.Jadonang was arrested along with his friend Namdichung on 6th Dec.1928 under the pretext of spreading the news he was the king and declaring the end of the British Raj.He was sentence to rigorous remand in jail for seven days. But he was released on third day on the ground of religious and social reformist. The imprisonment did not cow-down, instead he gained more mileage in his freedom movement. He ordered to procure more fire arms from the plains of Cachar.He engaged some blacksmiths to manufacture traditional fire arms and weapons. All the policies and activities were kept secret.Jinlakpou informed about the movement of Jadonang to his Kuki friend, Lhoupa, who was also a Government employee as Mauzadar in Naga Hills. Lhoupa informed about the political movement of Jadonang to Mr J.P.Mill,D.C. of Naga Hills on 5th January 1931.He took the opportunity to take revenge for the Kuki Rebellion of 1917 -1919 against the Zeliangrong people.Mr.J.P.Mill perceived the danger of Jadonang’s Revolt. He invited Mr.J.C.Haggins, an experienced administrative officer.Haggins was subsequently appointed as Political Agent in Manipur.
Mr.S.J.Duncan, S.D.O. of Tamengrong shifted his office to Imphal as directed by Mr. Haggins.He minutely analyzed the information conveyed by Duncan about the declaration of Jadonang that the British Raj would come to an end and Makam Gwangdi would establish soon.Jadonang frequently visited to Cachar and had been distantly inspired in Indian Congress Movements.Mr.Duncan conveyed the exaggerated words of census enumerator to Haggins that 1931 census could not be conducted due to the opposition of Jadonang.Mr.J.P.Mills,D.C. of Naga Hills also partook in conspiracy against Jadonang on the ground of involved in Congress Movement of Delhi.Kukis also directly conspired with British to root out the native movement.Haggins sent a telegraphic message to Chief Secretary of Assam,Mr. W.A.Crosgrave,on 12th February 1931 that a Kabui Naga, named Jadonang, from a Puilon had announced The Naga Raj and would become stumbling block for a peaceful administration of British Rule in Manipur.
In the early early part of 1931, Mr.Haggins deputed some Manipuri and Rongmei soldiers along with Manipuri and Rongmei’s Lambus to Puilon to arrest Jadonang.They could not arrest him since he was on a holy pilgrimage to Bhuvan cave with Gaidinliu and other followers. This was his last pilgrimage and last communion with Lord Vishnu. He had a mind to announce the arms struggle after his return to Puilon.Mr.Haggins informed Mr.Christoper Gimson, D.C. of Cachar to arrest Jadonang while returning from Bhuvan Hills.Jadonang had already perceived from Lord Bisnu that his days were numbered and would not live to eat the new crops.
Mr.Imtiaz Ali, a police Officer of Assam of Lakhimpur Police Station had an easy plan to arrest Jadonang.He, in civil dress, invited Jadonang to his house on the pretext of consultation over some matter.Gaidinliu suspected a fault play over the invitation and suggested him not to visit.Takhennang, a trusted follower of Jadonang, was also a friendly with the Muslim Police Officer. He insisted and convinced his native leader to accept the invitation. Jadonang was arrested on 19th February 1931 on the river bank after crossing the Barak River. He never resisted. His associates escaped taking shelter in the hills and forest. He was remanded in Silchar jail and this matter was informed to Mr.Haggins.Mr.Haggins telegraphed to Mr. Gimson to extradite the Rebel leader and he would come to Jirighat to receive him. He was accompanied with a platoon of Assam Rifles headed by British officer,Mr.Bulfield and a Gurkha Officer along with 190 coolies.They reached Puilon on 2nd March 1931.The message of arrest was already reached to the native
village before the arrival of British Officials. The villagers were panicked and desperate to revive the movement without their leader.Haggins and Bullfield tortured the harmless and innocent villagers and burnt down the templs.Haggins shot dead one python of Jadonang and other escaped. Jadonang was taken to Imphal via Jiribam under strict security. On the way to Imphal, he was exhibited to the people in different Zelianrong villages to incite in their psyche that the king was
arrested. He was enchained from hand to feet, without shirt; but a small stole on his shoulder and a wrapper around his waist. He was taken along the Imphal Kangchup Road to Khwairamband Bazar and then to Imphal jail. It was said that he was made to halt for a few minutes at Khwairamband Bazar( near the present site of Shamu Makhong Statue), where the female folks of Rongmei from Imphal brought soft drinks to be offered to their hero. As per oral information of Chungbilu Panmeilu (Golmei clan) of Kakhulong, she personally offered local soft drink to him. He said, “Sister, you have quenched my thirst”. He thanked the people.
Jadonang was lodged in Imphal Jail on 29th March 1931.After forty days of his arrest, Mr.Haggins conducted a legal proceeding in his court. He interrogated minutely about his Religion, his God of Bhuvan, his temples, his social reformation,
the proposed war against the Government and the Kukis.He denied all the allegations as baseless. Though Haggins understood about the idea and freedom movement, but he could not execute a death penalty in absence of evidence. The cunning British Officials did not sympathize on him, inspite of lack of concrete evidences. Particularly, J.C.Haggins, a political Agent and S.J.Duncan, the SDO, created false confidence and promise to the under-trial prisoners of being releasing them if they blamed Jadonang for murder of betel leaves traders from Imphal, that happened in Puilon in 1930.There was a genna of Di-nei (worship of mother earth) at Puilon and lighting of fire in the evening was strictly prohibited on that day. On the day of observing village’s genna, four betel traders put up in the rest house located in the village gate provided by the Government. Unaware of village genna, the traders lit up the candle and were cooking in the rest house at night. The village people protested lighting of fire. Dispute and hit up argument started between the traders and people from different villages and killed the traders. At that time, Jadonang was at Nungkao( Longkao).
Jinlakpou, a Rongmei Christian from Tamengrong Village, was an old enemy of Jadonang strongly involved conspiracy with the British. He did not want the popularity of Jadonang and his new religion. Perhaps, another reason was that Gaidinliu refused his proposal of marriage and she became the active follower of Jadonang.He tried to convince the family of under-trial prisoners that the whole blame of murder four traders was to be put on to Jadonang alone. He suggested, other might acquit from death penalty.However, he could convince Lurungpou of Mukti Khullen, one of the accused and king pin in the murder.Lurungpou later on persuaded other inmates.
In fact, Jadonang was not involved in the murder case of four betel leaves traders from Imphal.At the time of the crime, he was at Nungkao Village, visiting Gaidinliu’s father,Lothonang Pamei.He was teaching dance and sing songs to the young boys and girls for the Taraang ceremony.
On the other hand, Mr.Duncan and Haggins made, Jadonang’s elder brother, Modunang to speak that Jadonang instigated the murder and also involved in it. This was the most tragic part of Jadonang; his own brother had forsaken him. All the love they had been sharing from childhood to manhood turn to killer venom. In this way, Haggins declared Jadonang a murderer and ordered death sentence because he was also a threat to the British in Manipur.
Finally, an average height of around 5 ft, medium built with tough physique, innocent and courageous personalities but a simple village young man of 26 years, Jadonang was taken to the gallows in between the two mango groves behind the Imphal Jail, on the east bank of Nambul River, to the south a residency of
Mr.J.C.Haggins,political agent of British in Manipur. Not only Rongmei, many sympathizers from different communities gathered around the site of gallows to have the last glimpse of their social and religious leader, Jadonang.There was a dark cloud on that day. Among the large crowd of people his two helpless wives, Khunjinliu and Kushinglu and his younger sister Sunlunglu were present with tears in their eyes and sobbing in their throats. The born Hero, Jadonang, stood calmly on the gallows altered the last words; “I am not guilty. I am not the Makam Gwang.The Makam Gwang will come after me.” The hangman covered Jadonang’s face with black clothe and put a noose around his neck. The crowds hold their breath in pin silence.Jadonang was hanged. There was outburst of cries that shook the atmospheres on 29.08.1931 at 6.00 A.M.The Makam HERO died as a Martyr’s death. But his divine soul lives on.
HIS SILENT AND LAST JOURNEY TO PUILON.
Fully committed young man of 26 years, Jadonang Marangmei, was declared dead by the civil medical surgeon from the site of gallows. The clear morning sky was suddenly overcast with dark clouds, as if Heraka God disagreed the extradition of divine soul of Jadonang.The eye witnessed said – Jadonang was calm and fearless while going to towards the gallows. The motionless body was taken down and laid into a coffin. Funeral rites as per Rongmei tradition was performed to Jadonang.Rongmei youngsters mostly from Kakhulong,Keishamthong,Majorkhul etc. put to rest the death body of their Hero in the coffin and was lifted and set out for Puilon and the en-route village’s youths took over their Hero. They carried from one village to another till they reached his birth place at Puilon.His mother, Tabonliu, received her dead son’s body and put to rest in the grave with full traditional rituals and Highest Honour of His Return. The whole people accepted his life was sacrificed for sake of religious and cultural reforms and for his motherland. The Makam HERO died as a Martyr’s death. His death was a glorious death, not for Makam alone but for whole Manipur. He died but his spirit lives on as HAIPOU JADONANG. (Haipou means Highest Honour or Revered or Lord in Rongmei’s term).
Death Anniversary of Haipou Jadonang is observed on 29th August every year. The Death Anniversary Celebration Committee of Haipou Jadonang is formed for observance of His death annivarsary.One of the elders of Rongmei offers oblation of holy local brewed wine to Haipou Ragwang on that day at the site of gallows at 6 A.M, where Jadonang breathed his last. Makam people living in Manipur and many sympathizers pay a humble homage by offering floral tributes, they lit up inscent sticks and candles. Every family of Makammei living in and around Imphal light up candles in the evening in their houses. He shall be remembered as HAIPOU JADONANG MARANGMEI today and forever, lest tomorrow Generation will forget his complete name.