By Pr Kungsong Wanbe
Manipur was formerly called KANGLEIPAK the meaning of which is “Dry Land” (Kang=dry, Leipak=land). The story go on like this, that Manipur Valley was once under water and the whole plain area of Manipur was just like Loktak lake. There are some points/proof which narrate Manipur was under water, the points are as follow. Let us see one by one briefly.
First, fossil of sea fish is found on Koubru hill top which prove that Koubru hill was once under water.
Second, in the saying history of Manipur, that because of full of water the Hinduism Lord Mahadeva use to move/go by boat from Koubru hill to Nongmaiching hill.
Third, because of inconvenient of moving/going the Mahadeva breaks uot at the Southern part of the hill by his Trisul (Spearlike weapon) the break out hold is called in Manipuri “Chingnung hut” where the water flowed from Manipur Valley to Burma now Myanmar.
It may not be that Mahadeva breaks out the mountain to flow out water. It is natural that when water is put into a barrel for many years someday in any part of the barrel will become crack and flow the water. So, after many hundred years the water of Manipur Valley has flowed through to the place where it can make hole by the water itself. Lamphel lake is one of the prove that the valley was under water. Some 50 (fifty) years before that is up to the year 1960 Lamphel was full of water. Forget about human being even buffalo could not pass through Lamphel lake. At present of RIMS hospital, Sankar Talkist Cenima Hall and Lamphel Government quarters were full of waters. Only after when the government make dried the water by making big channel, the construction of house building started at Lamphel.
Since time immemorial Kangleipak was settled together by both the people of the hill and plain although some group of hill people came a bit late. The people of Kangleipak were called Kangleicha the meaning of which is the sons and daughters of Kangleipak. It was the saying story that Chingna Koina Pansaba Haona Koina Panngakpa the meaning of which is surrounded by the hills and the hill people guards the Kangleipak.
The new name of Kangleipak as Manipur was derived from Bangali, Sanskriti or Mayang as such Gorakpur, Jabalpur, Shantipur, Dimapur etc. Now the citizen of Manipur is called Manipuri which was formerly called Kangleicha. The meaning of Manipur may perhaps the land of gold. The reason of calling golden land is that Manipur is very distinct unique. For example Siroi Lily is found only in Siroi hill of Ukhrul. Even some outsiders rooted out the plant and planted in their places but never grow. Another Sangai a bro-antlered deer) is found only at keibul Lamjao of Manipur. Even though in some states in India taken from Manipur and put in the zoos in their state there are no Sangai in their forest. There are also many variety of medicine plants found in Manipur hills.
Lastly but not the least, why Kangleicha are now calling in two names, one is Hao and other is Meitei. According to legendary historians that hao is outcome of Jenshang haona chaba-Hao meaning of which is eating sweet and tasty curry as the hill people eat meat-flesh food. Meitei means fire plastering (Mei means fire, tei means plastering ). The history is that once there was a great devastated fire havoc. The fire havoc is called in Meitei as Poreiton Meithuok and in the Koireng tribe call it Chongbuompi Meihal. The story going on like this, that in order to prevent for future fire havoc all the individual families were not allowed to bum fire in their own houses. They put one common fire place in a pit and the pit was well plastering. At the time the individual families would like fire for cooking food and curry they should come and take the fire from the common fire pit and if their cooking is over they should put off the fire and they should take again from the common fire pit for the next cooking.
The above said original-traditional plastering fire pit is preserved till today at Andro. Therefore, the true name of Manipuri Valley is Meitei but not Meetei. May God bless all the Kangleicha.
(The writer is Former Secretary, Koren Historical Research Committee Manipur, Langol Tarung, Imphal)