Sunday, July 14, 2024

Ukhrul: Tangkhul village observes Mangkhap festival amid weak rain


Ekhon| Aug 1, 2023: Tangkhul tribal community generally observes Mangkhap festival in the month of July after the plantation of paddy to rejuvenate the energy lost during months of heavy work in the field.

Ngainga village in Ukhrul district of Manipur celebrated the Mangkhap festival on 29th July by observing the age-old ‘Meila Kashar’, burning of pine tinder to invoke the Almighty for “good things to come and bad things to go”.

Our forefathers who were agriculturists observed Mangkhap festival as the time of rest, feasting and to propitiate the ‘Almighty’ to protect the paddy from insects and pests and to give them good harvest, RS Khangamkhai, chief of Ngainga village informed Ekhon.

While, the festival, RS Khangamkhai said, is generally celebrated in the first week of July, this year they had to postponed till the last week of the month as the fields that are dependent on monsoon rain could not get enough water. Amidst weak monsoon rain, smaller tributaries of the Thoubal River are dried up and unable to irrigate the field.

As the sun set each household lighted the pieces of pine tinder outside their homes and throughout the streets that ended at the doorstep of the village Church. Village folks, both young and old came out dressed for the occasion and enjoyed the revelry with much enthusiasm.

RS Khangamkhai said the burning of pine tinder is indicative of calling on the Almighty to take away all the miseries and let good tidings come to the village.

Adding that the observation of ‘Meila Kashar’ during Mangkhap festival was practiced since time immemorial.

Meanwhile, a 92 year-old villager, Ngalahui shared that during pre-Christian, pine tinder were burned to chase away ‘chipee’, evil spirits from the village.

Groups of children joined the celebration by swinging the small ‘meiphu’ in the dark streets, lighting up space with their fire and laughter wherever they go.

As the village folks gathered at the Church, the village Chief pronounced his invocation and prayers for good harvest and good welfare of the village community. And as the echo of the choir rose so does the light and smoke.

While the villagers enjoyed the festivities there is a kind of gloom in the atmosphere as many of the households are still waiting for rain to plough and plant their fields.

According to the Village Chief, fields in three locations, like Hammilakang and Shangfa that produced over 1000 tins of rice are still left to be planted as these fields depended on small river water (which are dried) for irrigation. He feared that if there is no rain, the fields will remain barren and subsequently the households will suffer.

Mentioned may be made that many of the villages in Ukhrul district are facing similar situations due to weak monsoon rainfall. The climate has become warmer and the amount of rainfall has become lesser each year. Whether it is the impact of climate change is to be seen.


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