Shaking Manipuri Culture and Tradition

Manipur is a small state vibrant with colors and proud of a rich culture. Their history and customs attract many people from all over the world. Their beliefs and superstitions have always fascinated foreigners. Hence, such a small space should be explored and appreciated.

Here are some things that comprise Manipur culture:

  • festival 
  • recipes
  • Traditional dress
  • dance
  • music 
  • handicraft 

1. Festivals of Manipur

Many festivals take place in Manipur; Dol Jatra (Yaoshang), Chariot Jatra, Lai-Haraoba, Ramadan Id, Kut, Gang-Ngai, Chumpha, Cheraoba, Heikru Hidongba, Nadi-Ngai-ni and Kwak Jatra are some of the major ones. 

  • In Lai-Haraoba  , there is a festival named after a deity called Umang Lai which takes place in the month of May.
  • The Kut festival is celebrated  by the Kuki-Chin-Mizo groups of Manipur  .
  • It takes place on November 1 in honor of the bountiful harvest.
  • The Gang-Ngai  festival lasts for five days. It begins with an omen ceremony which is then continued with dancing and feasting.
  • Cheraoba  is the new year of Manipur which falls in April. As part of a traditional belief, villagers climb a nearby hill to help bring good luck.
  • Yaosang  is similar to Holi which is considered as the most important festival in Manipur. Local people take part in carnival celebrations. Recently, the energy of the festival has been directed towards sporting events to identify talent at the ground zero level.

2. Recipes

Rice is the staple food of Manipuri. Their specialty is kabok where rice is fried with lots of vegetables. Manipuris love Ngri which is a kind of fermented fish and has a distinct smell. They mostly like Nga-Thongba, Ooty, Chagame Pomba and Kangshoi. Pickles are their favorite vegetable which is none other than beans. Ironba is a fermented delicacy, a mixture of fish, vegetables and bamboo shoots.

3. Traditional dress

  • Innafi and Phanek are the most common Manipuri traditional wear for women. People also weave a special phenek called Mayek Naybi where the designs on the Naybi are horizontal stripes which makes it look beautiful.
  • Meitai women sew a cloth called Kanap Fanek which has various designs on it. ‘Lai-fee’ and ‘Chin-fee’ are other Manipuri traditional costumes.
  • A white turban called Pagari is most common among men.
  • Khamen Chatpa was gifted to poets and geniuses when kings ruled the land. Even now, Khamen Chatpa is worn by upper class men.
  • Nowadays modernization has taken over the traditional culture, people wear traditional dress only during festivals or rituals.  

4. Dance

For the Manipuri people, dance is an integral part of the culture and for the audience, it is visual because of its lyrical beauty and rhythm.

  • History tells us that King Khuyoi Tompok was a great lover of art and culture and developed Manipuri dance  in the 2nd century AD  . After the introduction of Vaishnavism in the 15th century, the dance form became familiar and very common.
  • Raas Leela , the love story of Radha and Krishna  ,  is the most popular dance form and continues to dominate the state’s performing arts. It is performed at Sri Sri Govindji Temple in Imphal as well as during the night of Basanta Poornima, Kartik Poornima and Sharda Poornima.
  • Nupa Pala  , also known as Kartal Cholom or Symbol Dance, serves as a prelude to Ras Lila. It is a group performance performed by male partners using cymbals and wearing white turbans.
  • Pung Cholom  is danced when the person dancing is trying to invoke a deity. He is the soul of Manipuri Sanskrit music.
  • The Maibi dance is performed during  the Lai- Haroba festival, an annual religious festival of Manipur  . In this dance Mybees dance and describe the whole lifestyle of how Manipuri people live.
  • The Khamba Thoibi  dance is a duet dance between a man and a woman. It is dedicated to the Sylvan deity and is performed by Khamba (the hero) and Thoibi (the heroine) from the Moirang region of the past.

5. Music

Manipuri people are very fond of music and are ardent admirers of it. Most folk songs dominate the region. 

  • Khullong Ishei  is a song sung by the Meiti from village to village when they go fishing. Love is the theme where the singer adjusts the lyrics with his own melody.
  • Pena ishei  is another form of song which is sung with the help of an instrument called pena. The theme is mainly the love story of Khamba-Thoebi. Pena looks like a thin bamboo stick attached to the round dry shell of a coconut.
  •  To create a musical symphony, a bamboo rod is held in the left hand and the drum shell is pressed against the chest. The right hand is used to hold the curved iron rod. The strings are rubbed with a curved iron rod.
  • Lai Haraoba Eishi  is a song known for its sensual mysticism, but the inner meaning is veiled by the use of simple words. It is sung during the Lai-haraoba ceremony. Thoubal Chongba, Naat, Gaur Padas, Dhob, Napi Pala, Khubaishei and Raslila are some of the famous songs sung in the region.

6. Handicraft

It is not surprising that the northeastern states have people who are into creative professions and their art is very different from other states of the country. It is said to be one of the largest producers of bamboo handicrafts in India and many decorative items such as sofa sets, stools, mats, basketry and flower vases are made.

  • Kauna  is a type of reed that is used to make mats and cushions and is often exported to countries such as the UK, Netherlands, Germany, France, UAE and Switzerland.
  • Pottery  is an old craft of Manipur which is painted in different and bright colors.
  • Cloth weaving  is done by women and is also known as Laichamfi.

One should not miss this exciting place and what it has to offer. Unique and unique, Manipur is a feast for the eyes and all who visit this vibrant state are never disappointed.

7. Inafy

Inafi, in short, is a cloth to wrap around your upper body, much like a shawl. As opposed to traditional fabrics with vivid colors and bold motifs, Manipuri weavers use soft pastel colors that highlight the calm charm of the shawl and maintain peace. The fabric used is semi-transparent. The result of this beautiful craftsmanship and skill is a royal sheer inafee with perfect craftsmanship.

Nowadays, a slightly modern and trendy version called Rani Phi is also readily available which includes silk threads, modern colors and different motifs for the traditional cotton inafi. To keep up with changing trends, you can experiment with colors and fabrics. These good-looking, easy-to-maintain infis are sure to make you look drop-dead gorgeous.

8. Phanek

A Manipuri costume, the phanek is similar to a sarong or draped skirt. But unlike most regular sarongs, it is not semi-transparent. Phaneks are woven on hand looms using cotton, silk and other synthetic fabrics. 

They are usually block printed and are mostly found in solid colors or stripes. You will not see floral patterns or bold designs in traditional dresses.
Mostly worn with a mini blouse and top, the phanek is the North Indian equivalent of the sari.

Funex are very comfortable and beautiful summer clothes. For an ethnic look and stylish at the same time, you can try this popular Manipuri funeks.

9. My mother’s deputy

Mayek Naibi is another type of fanek that is worn on special days and traditional events. The bottom of Mayek Naybi is embellished with heavy embroidery and embellished with studs in different designs. Mayek Naibi is a fresh change from the bright colors and regular wedding wear. If you want to look ethnic with sophistication then this is your outfit.

10. Lai Fee and Chin Fee

Another added extension to the traditional Funak costumes is the lai fei and chin fei. They are popular for carnivals, festivals and weddings. The lai fei is a beautiful white piece of cloth with a yellow border while the chin fei is a blouse paired with an intricately embroidered phanek. Paired in the right way, they can make you an instant hit of the day.

Shaking Manipuri Culture and Tradition

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