CSOs oppose bill to bring Umanglais under Govindaji Temple board

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IMPHAL, August 2: Several civil organisations led by Umang Lai Kanba Apunba Lup (UKAL) have sought both the Governor’s and the Chief Minister’s intervention on the passage of the Govindaji Temple (3rd Amendment) Bill 2014 by the Manipur Legislative Assembly.

Meetei Erol Eyek Loinasillon Apunba Manipur (MEELAL) vice president Moirangthem Naokhonba Meetei said 14 organisations under the aegis of UKAL submitted memorandums to both the Governor and the Chief Minister today.

The Bill aims to bring all Umanglais (sylvan deities) of Manipur under the purview of the Govindaji Temple Board by making amendment to the Govindaji Temple Act 1972, he said.

The Govindaji Temple Act 1972 does not cover the institution of Umang Lais, Naokhonba told the media during a press meet at the Manipur Press Club.

He said under the Act, all matters connected with the seva and puja and other ceremonies and festivals of the temple should be held or performed according to the customs and usages of the Hindu religion.”

He continued that the institutions established in the temple maintain their functions including mode of seva and puja (Thouram-Thoumi) according to the Hindu religion.

Naokhonba said the Umanglai comes under a separate religious entity, that of the Sanamahi religion.

Only those who profess the Sanamahi religion are allowed to perform the customary rites and rituals during the Laiharaobas as everything sung or recited during such rituals are associated with the religion, he said and added that others are allowed participation only in the organisational and no-ritual management level.

Naokhonba said as every religious denomination in the Indian society has the right to manage their own affairs under the provision of Article 26 (b) of the Indian Constitution, people who professed Sanamahi religion are also entitled to enjoy the same rights.

It said Govindaji Temple (3rd Amendment) Bill 2014 is misleading and giving the responsibility of the Umanglais to the Pandit Loishang of the Govindaji Temple has no meaning since it has been quashed as “ultra vires” by the Gauhati High Court.

It may be mentioned that the Royal Council, Sana Konung and Sana Konung Legal Cell had termed the passage of the Bill as ‘unfortunate.’

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