Imphal Review of Arts and Politics

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Ningol Chakkouba is a beloved festival of the Meiteis where married women return to their parental home for a sibling reunion. In the picture, a woman and child buy fruits and other gifts to take to her parental home on Ningol Chakkouba morning.

Manipuri’s Biggest Societal Festival, Ningol Chakkouba Likely to be a Victim of Conflict

Waari Singbul Network

Owing to the unceasing ethnic strife besetting Manipur, Ningol Chakkouba, the biggest festival of Manipuri women may not be celebrated in earnest. Noticeably, many individuals and locals organisations in the state have taken their decision not to celebrate Chakkouba this time.

Hordes of Meitei civil bodies of the state also appealed to forgo the festival that falls on November 15 taking into account the unstable state of affairs triggered by the violence.

On Chakkouba day, the age-old festival, Meitei women, particularly the married ones, in their best traditional attires, move to their natal homes and enjoy multi dishes with their parents and siblings.

With simple gifts and blessings given by their parents and brothers, the Ningols (women) return home with high spirits. Entertainment programmes like music concerts, Shumang Leela (courtyard theatre) etc. are also held on Chakkouba day.

The festival has encompassed other communities since the last few decades, standing as testimony of love, unity and integration in the state. An irony to what is happening with over 175 people killed, 1108 injured and rendered around 60,000 homeless and sheltered in relief camps. Over thousands of houses and other properties have been destroyed since the ethnic conflict broke on May 3.

“Had there been no violence in our state we would have by now planned everything for the ensuing Ningol Chakkouba like  the fish menu for the family feasting and the simple gift items to be given to
our married daughters and beloved  Ningols (women),” said Saikhom Ongbi Tombi Devi, a resident of Thangmeiband area in Imphal West district.

“When the bereaved families are weeping for their near and dear ones killed, injured and maimed  in the unceasing conflict, when the people whose houses and properties were destroyed by miscreants and taking refuge at relief camps and when the people are bearing the brunt of the public unrest, there will  be no happiness in Ningol Chakkouba. Hence, we have decided to forgo the festival this time,” she added.

Commenting in line with Tombi, Premjit Singh from Imphal East district said that he is not in the mood to celebrate Chakkouba and hence resolved not to invite his married sisters for the coming Chakkouba.

Keisham Ongbi Aruna, a former journalist from Konba Laishram Leikai in the same district, too said that she would not celebrate Chakkouba .

“Chakkouba is the time of merriment and jovial for Manipuri women, but celebrating the day this time is not appropriate when many people are affected by the ongoing strife. Moreover, many civil bodies have also appealed to forgo the ensuing Chakkouba.

Showing solidarity with the victims, we will not celebrate this time,” she added.

The World Meitei Council (WMC), one of the apex civil bodies of the Meiteis, keeping in mind the current situation gripping Manipur, has appealed to all members of the community living across the globe to
show solidarity with the victims of the conflict and not celebrate ‘Ningol Chakouba’ this year.

A WMC release said that ever since the Chahi Taret Khuntakpa, the Burmese invasion of Manipur from 1819 to 1826 (seven years of devastation), the Meiteis have not experienced such widespread destruction and devastation in the current strife.

This crisis resulted in the loss of many precious lives and the displacement of thousands of families, particularly in Churachandpur, Moreh in Tengnoupal and Kangpokpi, districts and the adjacent surrounding areas along the hills, it said.

Following an appeal made by a local civil body of Kakching Khunou in Kakching district against celebrating Ningol Chakkouba and other festivals in the area, the locals have taken their decision not to
celebrate the festival.

At this point of time, it vital to share the grief and pangs of the victims and not to indulge in any festivities, said S Tomba, convenor of the body.

A Meira Paibi Lup (women vigilante group) leader of Wangoo area in Bishnipur district bordering Churachandpur also appealed to all to refrain from celebrating Ningol Chakkouba in the state until normalcy is restored and the displaced people lead a settled life at their respective native places.

It is not the right time to celebrate Ningol Chakkouba when thousands are going through pains and sufferings owing to the crisis, she added.

Two bodies of Kyamgei areas in Imphal East -The Peace and Integrity Committee Kiyamgei (PICK) and All Kiyamgei Nupi Chaokhat Thourang Lup (AKNCTL) – have also decided to forego Ningol Chakkouba celebrations this year, showing solidarity with the untold suffering of the people.

In Jiribam district bordering Assam, three bodies of the area – Jiri Ima Meira Paibi Apunba Lup (JIMPAL), Jiri Development Organisation (JDO) and United Jiri Youth League (UJYL)- have also appealed to the
people of the district to scale down the upcoming celebrations- Durga Puja, Ima Panthoibi Erat Thouram, Diwali and Ningol Chakkouba – in view of the prevailing chaotic situation in the state.

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