As we evolve with the passage of time, the rites of passage governing our life evolves with the change of time. The early Manipuris went through a rigorous process of ethnic amalgamation and cultural assimilation which continued till late 18th century. According to the ancient records, seven major clans with established principalities struggled for power and supremacy in the fertile Manipur valley, for many centuries. The Mangangs otherwise known as Ningthoujas emerged victorious in the first century A.D. And they began forging a larger and composite Meitei identity through a long and complex historical process. Many tribal elements from the hills and many streams of migrating people naturally became a part of the cultural melting pot. Non-Mongoloid peoples from the Indian subcontinent, mainly Brahmins and Muslims, also started migrating in the 16th century to Manipur. They were subsequently assimilated into a larger Manipuri society. Under the impact of these migrations, a pluralistic society and polity had emerged. Even in religion, the duality is very much there. Everyone knows, in the homes of every Manipuri Hindu the God Sanamahi reigns supreme. Like the Manipuri identity, a new cult of Manipuri Vaishnavism based on Manipuri culture and value system was forged by Meidingu Chingthangkhomba popularly known as Rajarshi Bhagyachandra. This particular king was responsible for transforming the form and structure of the rites of passage of the Manipuris in 18th century some modeled on the Nat Sankritana introduced by Rajarshi. The king had even broke away from the patriarchal tradition by introducing his daughter Bimabati to play Radha in Nupi Pala. Sadly even today, women are not allowed in the sacred Sankritan enclosure. But, women move freely within the Sankritan enclosure whenever the popular musical groups perform bhajans in marriage or shradhha ceremonies. These ceremonies had undergone a sea change in recent times with popular musical groups performing devotional songs instead of the traditional Nat Sankritan. Yet the Bhakti and commitment is missing in these rites which many devout Manipuris are protesting. The Nat Sankritan of which the Pung cholom is a major ingredient is based on traditional martial arts, Maibi Dance and other ancient art forms of Manipur. While the outer covering might be of the Hindu, the ethos and forms and structure are that of the Manipuris. Revivalists in recent times have tried to change the form and structure of the Nat Sankritan without a proper understanding of the roots and basis of the Nat Sankritan, but it still remains a counter form of the Nat Sankritan tradition. The Sankritan tradition had been stretched to its limits in a recent digital film entitled the ‘Western Sankritan’ with a popular rock star played by the popular Bonny enacting a totally modernized form of Sankritan in the rites of passage ceremonies of the Manipuris. The film left a unsavory taste to many but the message is felt. While we are dabbling with different forms and structure, we are forgetting the need to evolve with time and change. With the intrusion of bhajans and Indian devotional songs in the rites of passage ceremonies of Manipur, popular singers of Matamgi Ishei are giving a run for money to the practitioners of Nat Sankritan and Pung. We have not done away with the ‘Ipan Thaba’ ceremony at the birth of a child, the Swasti Pujah is still being performed to cater to the Hindu tradition. The ‘Nat-Hutpa’ and coming of age ceremony ‘Lugun Thangba’ has been completely usurped by the modern singers of bhajans and devotional songs, the marriage ceremony and shradhha ceremony alongwith the yearly ‘Phiroi’ ceremony has been deeply invaded by them also. In such a situation, the Ojahs, Gurus and practitioners of Nat Sankritan and Pung had to understand the need to evolve and swim with changing trends.
Photography Credit and Copyright: Rashingam Ngoruh Siroi hills/ Shirui hills ranges in the Ukhrul District of Manipur, India, at an elevation of 1730m–2590m above sea level. Picture speaks itself the beauty of the Siroy Hill
Kankhui Cave – Sculpted by Nature – Ukhrul Manipur Photography Copyright: Rashingam Ngoruh Khangkhui Cave is a remarkable natural lime- stone cave located at Ukhrul, Manipur, India. The big hall in the cave is the darbar hall of the Devil … Continue reading
Unique Manipur Yaoshang Sports – Bor Keina Competition – 2013 Photography and Credit: Loyangamba Khundongbam All types of sports are held during Yaoshang Sports meet at Manipur or different parts of the world for women, men and children namely Chaphu … Continue reading
View of Manipur Valley during evening time Photography Credit and Copyright: Moirangthem Ranjit This is the valley where we live. Surrounded on all sides by mountains and hills, once upon a time, this valley was submerged underwater. All waters were … Continue reading
Manipuri Meitei Association Bangalore – Yaoshang Sports Meet – 2013 – Bangalore The Annual Yaoshang Sports Meet, 2013 at Bangalore organized by Manipuri Meitei Association Bangalore was held on Sunday, 24 March at Country Club Lakeside, Attibele Hobli. 350 plus … Continue reading