IMPHAL, 27 October: The `Mera Houchongba`™, the festival that brings together all ethnic communities of Manipur fostering a sense of brotherhood was celebrated throughout the state today.
The Mera Hou Chonga 2015 was also observed today here at Kangla Uttra organized by Kangla Religious Committee, Kangla Fort Board, Imphal.
Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam, Deputy Speaker MK Preshow, Oinam AC MLA Dr I Ibohalbi Singh, who is also member of Kangla Fort Board and Kangla Religious Committee chairman Sairem Nilbir attended the function as chief guest, guests of honour and president respectively.
The function was also attended by Chief Secretary O Nabakishore and Arts and Culture Director.
Exchange of gifts between the hill people and valley people of the State, and other cultural programmes like Maibee Jagoi, Maram Dance, Khamba-Thoibi Jagoi, Tangkhul Dance, Thang-Ta, and also indigenous games like Mukna and Pou Chingnaba mark the day`™s function.
Delivering his chief guest speech, Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam said Mera Hou Chonga is a historic event and the essence of it is unity of hills and valley.
He said since time immemorial the people of hills and valley have been living together as children of the same parents and this day once again reminds the people of the oneness.
Mera Hou Chongba is a very important event and with the passage of time the importance of this occasion is increasing.
Shedding lights on the genesis of Mera Hou Chongba, the Deputy Chief Minister said `Even though topographical condition or landscape divides the hills and valley people we are still one and children of the same parents,` he said adding that history stands as the testimony of our oneness.
`When we were young our elders from the hills told us stories that the King of Manipur invited every tribe King or Khulakpa to a grand feast once in a year. The King or Khulakpa representing their respective tribe would come to join the feast on this day wherein they would bring the first harvest for the King of Manipur.`
He said this day is observed on the foundation of facts and truth and it is not a cook-up story for taking political advantages.
He continued, `This day reminds us that we the people of hills and valley cannot be separated. `We are like the two faces of the same coin. One side is different from the other however without these two sides the coin is invalid.`
On the other hand it is very unfortunate that some people are trying to bring out baseless theories to separate the hills and valley in a time when people are moving towards finding their real origin, he further said.
`When there is a fact based theory of oneness, some people are bringing out theories based on fake evidences and baseless claims and make it sound like a real history, in an intention to break the unity of the hills and valley,` he said.
`We should identify those elements that are trying to break the oneness of hills and valley and should avoid from them, and challenging the oneness of hills and valley is like challenging to God and challenging to the Nation,` he said.
In this modern age whether we stay in America or Bengal or Tripura or Nagaland or Europe we need to know where we belong and we should not forget our birth place, he said.
With the sense of oneness, belongingness and participation let us one again work for a prosperous Manipur, he added.
Chief Secretary O Nabakishore speaking at the function informed that from next year onwards the `Mera Hou Chonga`™ will be observed in a grander manner.
The festival was also celebrated at the Sana Konung (Royal Palace) Imphal with the titular King of Manipur Leisemba Sanajaoba as the chief guest, and organised by the Mera Houchongba Thousil Lup.
Speaking during the occasion, the titular King observed that the true essence of the festival is gradually becoming murky with different organisations celebrating the festival in their own convenient styles, although he appreciated the effort of these organisations to prevail the sense of brotherhood.
According to him, 95 percent of the festival is in the form ritual and 5% convergence of people.
The members of the observation committee have been conducting rituals for 15 days and on the 15th day people from both Hills and Valley converged at the Sana Konung wherein they exchange gifts upholding brotherhood.
Given the fact, he suggested that the celebration of Mera Hou Chongba other than Sana Konung should be given a different name to preserve the sanctity of the festival.
Mera Hou Chongba is observed both at Kangla Fort and Sana Konung today showcasing the love and togetherness between hill and valley people of the state.
Meanwhile, the Titular King termed the less participation of Hills people in the festival this time as unfortunate.
He revealed that he was informed that the hill people really wanted to participate in the age old tradition but the prevailing situations in the state became the deterrent factor adding that their sentiments of brotherhood remain unchanged.
Later in the evening at Sana Konung cultural entertainment programmes were showcased and gifts were exchanged between the hill and valley people.