Fairs and Festivals of Manipur
Celebrated in hour of the sylvan deities known as Umang Lai, the festival represents the worship of traditional deities and ancestors. A number of dances by both men and women are performed before the ancient divinities. The Lai Haraoba of God-Thangjing, the ruling deity of Moirang, is the most famous one and attracts huge gatherings. It is held in the month of May.
Yaoshang (Dol Jatra)
Celebrated for five days commencing from the full-moon day of Phalgun (February/March), Yaoshang is the premier festival of Manipur. The Thabal Chongba, a kind of Manipuri folk dance in which boys and girls hold hands and dance away their blues in festive tube-lit ambience is an inseparable part of the festival. Young and old folks collect donation from house to house and the money so collected is spent in parties and feasts. However, of late, time and energy earlier spent in this festival has been utilized in locally organized games and sports meets.
One the greatest festivals of the Hindus of Manipur, the festival is celebrated for about 10 days in the month of Ingen (June/July). Lord Jaganath leaves his temple in a Rath locally known as Kang pulled by pilgrims who vie with one another for this honour.
Ramjan Id is the most popular festival of the Manipuri Muslims and is observed in the usual spirits of joy and festivities as in other Muslim worlds. Ramjan is the ninth month of Hijri year since the time of prophet Mohammed and during this month the Muslims practice self denial by avoiding any food, drink and smoke from pre-dawn till sunset. After the month on the second day of shawl, when the new moon is visible they break fast and this fast breaking day is called Id-Ul-Fitr. On this day, they go to the mosques to offer prayers and take delicious dishes, exchange greetings and call on friends and relatives.
Kut (Festival of Kuki-Chin-Mizo)
It is an autumn festival of the different tribes of Kuki-Chin-Mizo groups of Manipur. The festival has been variously described at different places amongst different tribes as Chavang-Kut or Khodou etc. It is a happy occasion for the villagers whose food stock is bountiful after a year of hard labour. The festival is thanks giving feasts with songs and dances in merriment and joviality for all, in honour of the giver of an abundant harvest, it is observed on the 1st of November every year.
Gang-Ngai (Festival of Kabui Nagas)
Celebrated for five days in the month of Wakching (December/January) Gang-Ngai is an important festival of the Kabui Nagas. The festival opens with the omen taking ceremony on the first day and the rest of the days are associated with common feast, dances of old men and women and of boys and girls, presentation of farewell gifts etc.
Chumpha (Festival of Tangkhul Nagas)
Celebrated for seven days in the month of December, the Chumpha festival is a great festival of the Tangkhul Nagas. The festival is held after harvest. The last three days are devoted to social gatherings and rejoicing. Unlike other festivals women play a special role in the festival. The concluding part of the festival ends with a procession within the village.
Christmas is the greatest festival of all the Christians of Manipur, observed for two days on December 24 and 25. Prayers, reading of Gospels, eating, singing of hymns sports etc., form the major part of the festival.
Cheiraoba (The Manipur NewYear)
During the festival, people clean and decorate their houses and prepare special festive dishes which are first offered to various deities. Celebrated during the month of April, a part of the ritual entails villagers climbing the nearest hill tops in belief that it will enable them to rise to greater heights in their worldly life. The Pangals (Manipuri Muslims) also observe it.
Celebrated in the month of September, a festival of joy, with little religious significance along a 16 metre wide boat. Long narrow boats are used to accommodate a large number of rowers. Idol of Shri Vishnu is installed before the commencement of the race.
Ningol Chakouba (The social festival of Manipuris)
It is a remarkable social festival of the Meiteis. Married women of the family who were married to distant places come to the parental house along with her children and enjoy sumptuous feast. It is a form of family rejoinder to revive familial affection. The festival is also observed by the Pangals (Manipuri Muslims) to a certain extent now-a-days. It is observed on the second day of the new moon in the Manipuri month of Hiyangei (November).
It is a collective festival of the Nagas observed on the 15th day of February every year. This is a seed-sowing festival after which tribes belonging to the Naga group begin their cultivation. Social gathering, songs, dances and rejoicing highlight the festivity. The annual festival also plays a great role in boosting the morale and strengthening the bond of Naga solidarity.
Goddess Durga is propitiated with pomp and ceremony in this festival. It is celebrated in the month of October and represents the victory of righteousness over evil.
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