Culture of Manipur
Manipur presents a variety of traditions and cultural patterns. The most important aspect of Manipuri culture is that the people of Manipur have retained the traditional style along with the contemporary ones.
People of Manipur are very enthusiastic about their traditional art and
dance forms. Each ethnic groups of Manipur has its own distinct art,
music and dance forms. Ras Lila is the highest expression of artistic
genius, devotion and excellence.
Manipur is a land of festivities. Throughout the year different
festivals are celebrated by the different tribes of the state.
Lai-Haraoba, Yaoshang, among others, are the main festivals of Manipur.
people are also very enthusiastic about their food. The cuisine of
Manipur is healthy and organic. The food of Manipur is both vegetarian
and non vegetarian.
Tribes of Manipur
mostly inhabit in Chandel district of Manipur. The word Aimol means a
talisman or spells of magic chanted to cause a black magic. According to
the other meaning Ai is a crab and Mual means valley. This tribe speaks
the language which is a form of Tibeto-Burman language. They mostly
practice the slash and burn agriculture. They are mainly Christians.
Anal is a scheduled tribe in Manipur. According to 2001 India census,
there are about 21,242 Anal people living in Manipur. This tribe is
related to the Kuki tribe. Farming, carpentry and weaving are their main
occupation of the people. They belong to Mongolia.
is one of the Kuki tribes mostly residing in Manipur. According to 2001
census, about 15, 100 Gangte people reside in Manipur. The word Gangte
is named after the place carrying Ganggam. The word Gangte means person
from Ganggam. The Gangte society can be divided into Thadou, Hmar,
Lushai, Paite, Simte, Vaiphei and Zou. The Gangte people speak the
Kukish languages, which belong to the Tibeto-Burman family. Gahmasa Kut
and Chapchal Kut are the major festivals among the tribe.
tribe is one of the major tribes in Manipur. This tribe is mostly found
in Senapati and Churachandrapur districts. They are rich in cultural
and traditional heritage. A large number of Kom people follow
Christianity. Farming is the main occupation of the tribe and they
produce potatoes, millets, rice, maize and others.
are a small tribal community residing in Manipur. The term Maring
includes two words, Mei means fire and Ring means produce. This tribe
practice farming and irrigation. They are also apt in making different
articles of bamboo.
Chothe tribe also known
as Chowte or Chawte is a clan of the Kuki tribe inhabiting in Chandel
district of Manipur. According to 2001 census about 2676 Chothe people
live in Manipur. They follow Christianity. The Chothe man makes bamboo
baskets and the women’s collects from firewood from the forest and sells
them in the market.
mostly lives in Chandel district of Manipur. Their language is similar
with the Anals. Monsangs can be divided into two clans namely Simputi
and Rinheti. The each clan is divided into 7 groups. They are mainly
dependent on agriculture; many of them too have established trading
community of Manipur is found in various districts of the state. The
word Chiru means the seed of a plant. This tribe has some similarity
with the Naga tribe. The tribe has own custom and traditions. A large
number of Chiru people are involved in farming. They involve themselves
in the growth and trading of fruits. They also practice the shifting
cultivation. This tribe is also expert in weaving, carpentry and
Koireng is a tribal community
in Manipur. This tribe belongs to the old Kuki clans of the Kuki-Chin
group. According to last census 1056 Koireng people live in Manipur.
Their economy mainly depends on agriculture.
is an ethnic tribe found in Churachandpur, Senapati, Ukhrul,
South-Western hills and Sadar hills districts in Manipur. It is a major
Kuki tribe. Large number of Thadou people follow Christianity.
is a Naga tribe in Manipur. They belong to the sub-family of the
Sino-Tibetan family. Ponghi, Rakak and Kanghi are the main festival
among the tribe.
tribe is scheduled caste in Manipur. This tribe belongs to the
chin-Kuki-Mizo groups. Hmar tribe can be divided into many groups like
Faihrein, Khawbung, Sakum, Ngente, Pakhoung. This tribe is dependent on
forest. Shifting cultivation is the main occupation of the tribe. They
also practice black smithy, carpentry, basketry and poultry.
Art and Craft of Manipur
Manipur is a state of unique art and culture. People of Manipur are very enthusiastic about their traditional art forms. Each ethnic groups of Manipur has its own distinct art and craft forms. The handicraft and handloom of Manipur is famous worldwide for its craftsmanship, colorfulness and sheer beauty. The people here are artistic and creative.
The art and craft of Manipur has a uniqueness of its own. They are very intricately made and beautiful to look at. Tourists coming to this northeastern state are mesmerized to see the sheer wonder of art and craft of Manipur. The tribes are apt in making different kinds of cane and bamboo products and in weaving. These products have now received recognition not only in the national market but also in the international market and are much in demand.
Handicraft of Manipur
Cane and bamboo product making is one of the prime occupations of the people of Manipur.Cane and bamboo products like headgears, ornaments, images, musical instruments, umbrella, furniture, mats, tray, chair, container, table, flower and different household items are made by the people.
Basketry is one of the famous occupations of the people of Manipur. The abundance of bamboo and cane facilitates basketry in Manipur. Baskets of varied shapes and sizes are prepared by the people. The baskets are made for domestic purpose, social and religious ceremonies. The basket items are Heijing Kharai, Likhai, sangbai, lukmai, Meruk and so on.Other than basketry fishing equipments are also made by people. Mairing and Meities are adept in making these products.
Pottery is also one of the important occupations of the people. The pots made here by the people are of different shape and size and are beautifully decorated.
Handloom industry is the largest cottage industry in Manipur. The distinctive feature of the handloom industry is that women are the only weavers. According to the National Handloom Census report 1988 there are 2.71 lakh looms in Manipur. Chitnu Tamitnu is considered the goddess of handloom. It is believed that she discovered handloom in the state. Manipuri shawls and sarees with intricate fabric and design are the specialty of handloom in the state. Bed sheets, bedcovers, tribal shawls, curtains, screens and gowns made here are also famous throughout India.
Cuisine of Manipur
The cuisine of Manipur is a simple platter consisting of rice, vegetables, fish and salad. The food of Manipur is healthy and organic. The food is both vegetarian and non vegetarian. The food is prepared both boiled and spicy.
The staple food of the Manipuri people includes rice with vegetables and fish. Ngri is one of the most favorite food of the Manipuris. It is a type of fermented fish and carries a distinct smell and is loved the most by the people of Manipur. Other than that Iromba, Chamfoot, Morok and the various herbs are the main food items.
The Manipuris grow vegetables in kitchen gardens for regular intake. As such, the taste is different from the mainland cuisines. The people here use chili pepper other than the regular Garam masala to cook their food. Some of the vegetables eaten here are found only here like the Yendem (a kind of taro), Chawai, Hawai Mana, Koukha ( herb root), Loklei, Pulei; Komprek. The people also have mushrooms as an important part of their cuisine. The mushroom types include Uyen, Uchi-na (black slimy mushroom), Chengum, Kaglayen (lichen). The Manipuri people also eat fermented soya bean called Hawaijar and fermented fish dish called Ngari.
Different Manipuri Dishes
The dishes eaten by the Manipuri people include among others:
- Eromba, a stew of boiled vegetables or potatoes with lots of red chilies and dried fish. This dish is garnished with Maroi and coriander leaves.
- Chamthong or Kangshoi is prepared by boiling seasonal vegetables with coarsely chopped onions, Maroi, ginger, garlic cloves and salt. This dish is topped with Ngari and water. The dish is soupy in nature and is served with rice.
- The salad and chutney pastes prepared include Morok Metpa which is a coarse paste prepared with green or dry red chilies. These chilies are boiled with Ngari and mashed with salt.
- Kang-ngou or kaang-hou is a dish which is prepared with various vegetables fried dry in oil with traditional spices.
- Sana thongba is prepared with paneer in Manipuri style.
- A-nganba is a dish which is prepared with steamed vegetables, such as pumpkin, peas, carrots, French beans, and so on.
- Singju is a salad prepared with finely chopped cabbage, onions, lotus stems, tree beans, coriander, ginger, sinju pan and many seasonal vegetables mixed with Ngari.
- Boiled kidney beans are eaten seasoned with red chili flakes, salt, roasted sesame powder and roasted chick peas powder.
- Nga-thongba is a fish curry
Ras Lila is one of the major Indian classical dance forms. Ras Lila is the epitome of Manipuri classical dance. It is based on the eternal love of Radha and Krishna as has been described in the Hindu scriptures. It is performed in front of temples. A deep sense of devotion is required to perform the dance form. It is performed at the temples of shree shree Govindjee in Imphal in the night of Basanta Purnima, Sarada Purnima and Kartik Purnima.
It is said that king Khuyoi Tompok was a great patron of art and culture and developed Manipuri dance in the 2nd century AD. With the introduction of Vaishnavism in the 15th century the dance form started becoming familiar. The dance form found expression outside Manipur by the efforts of Rabindranath Tagore.
The dance form is a medium of worship and enjoyment. It is considered a door to the Divine. It is an inseparable part of all socio-cultural activities. The movement in the Manipuri dance form is subtle, delicate and graceful compared to the other Indian classical dance forms. The dance is accompanied by Pung, Kartal, Pena, Flute, harmonium, esraj, shankh and a singer.
The costume of the dance is colourful and elegant. The female dancers a costume called ‘Patloi’. The lehenga is called ‘Kumin’.
Nupa Pala is a group performance of male partners using cymbals and wearing white turbans that sing and dance to the accompaniment of Mridanga. The dance performance acts as a prologue to the Ras Lila. Nupa Pala dance is also known as Kartal Cholom or Cymbal Dance. The dance is started in a slow motion and the initial movements of this dance are soft and calm and slowly the people who are dancing dance with more speed. This dance is basically a group performance of male dancers using cymbals and wearing snow white ball-shaped large turbans.
Pung Cholom dance is performed as dance in which the person dancing is trying to call the deity. This dance is performed before Sankirtana and Ras Lila. This dance is a very well polished classical dance. It is the soul of Manipuri Sankritana music and Manipuri classical dance. The dance performance is the essence of social and devotional ceremonies in Manipur.
Maibi dance is performed during the festival of Lai-Haraoba which is an annual ritual festival of the people of Manipur. In this dance the Maibis which are the priestesses and are considered to be spiritual mediums. They dance in a way describing the whole concept of how Manipuri people live.
Khamba Thoibi Dance
Khamba Thoibi dance is a duet dance comprising a male and a female partner. The dance is dedicated to the sylvan deity. The description of the dance is Thangjing of Moirang and is performed by Khamba and Thoibi, the hero and heroine of the Moirang episode of the hoary past.
Festivals of Manipur
Manipur is a land of festivities. There are different tribes dwelling in Manipur. Throughout the year different festivals are celebrated by the different tribes of the state. The different tribes celebrate the different festivals in their own distinct ways. The important festivals celebrated in the state are:
The Lai-Haraoba festival is celebrated in the honour of the sylvan deity known as Umang Lai. The festival is celebrated in the month of May. The festival represents the worship of deities and ancestors. The men and women perform a number of dances in front of the ancient divines in the festival. The Lai-Haraoba of God Thangjing is the most famous.
Yaoshang (Dol Jatra)
Yaoshang festival is the premier festival of Manipur and is also known as Dol Jatra. The festival is celebrated for five days starting from the full-moon day of Phalgun i.e. month of February/ March. An inseparable part of this festival is the Thabal Chongba dance.
Ratha Jatra is an important festival of the Hindus living in Manipur. The festival is celebrated for 10 days in the month of Ingen(June/July). In this festival Lord Jaganath leaves his temple in a Rath and the rath is pulled by pulled by pilgrims.
Ramjan Id is the most popular festival of the Manipuri Muslims (Meitei Pangal) in Manipur. During this festival Muslims practice self denial of food, drink and other items. And keep a fast; this fast is broken on the day of Id-Ul-Fitre.
Kut festival is a festival of the different tribe’s of Kuki-Chin-Mizo groups of Manipur. The festival is celebrated on 1st November in the month of autumn and is a happy occasion for villagers whose food stock was plentiful. The festival is a thanks giving festival and is in the honour of the giver of an abundant harvest.
Gang –Ngai is the festival of Kabui Nagas. The festival is celebrated for a period of five days. The festival opens with the omen taking ceremony on the first day and the rest of days are celebrated by dances and feast.
The Chumpa festival is an important festival of the Tangkhul Nagas. The festival is celebrated for seven days in the month of December. The festival is held after the harvest period.
The people of Manipur celebrate Christmas with joy and happiness by praying Jesus Christ, eating and singing.
Cheiraoba is the Manipur New Year. The Manipur New Year is in the month of April. During the festivities traditional delicacies are offered to the Gods and Goddesses. The festival is celebrated in April. During the festival time the villagers climb the nearest hill as according to the traditional belief this helps in bringing good fortune.
Heikru Hidongba is celebrated in the month of September. The festival is a boat race which is celebrated with full joy. Long boats are used to accommodate a large number of rowers. Idol of lord Vishnu is installed before the commencement of the race.
Ningol Chakouba is a social festival of the people of Manipur. In this festival the married women of the family come. The festival is celebrated in the month of November on the second day of new Moon.
Lui Ngai Ni
Lui Ngai Ni is also known as seed sowing festival. It is a collective festival of Nagas observed on the 15 February every year. In this festival the Naga tribes start their cultivation by sowing seeds.
Kwak Jatra is the festival of goddess Durga. The festival is celebrated in the same manner like it is celebrated all over India. The festival is also known as Durga Puja and is celebrated in the month of October.