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Many in Manipur to skip biggest fest 'Ningol Chakkouba' this time

Many in Manipur to skip biggest fest Ningol Chakkouba this time

Imphal: In the midst of smouldering ethnic violence, many in Manipur decided not to celebrate the state’s biggest festival of Manipuri women, 'Ningol Chakkouba' which falls on November 15.

Hordes of Meitei civil bodies also appealed to forgo the festival as the state is still reeling from the volatile situation triggered by the violence.

On Chakkouba day Meitei women, particularly the married ones, go to their natal homes in their best traditional attires 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.

There used to be music concerts, Shumang Leela (courtyard theatre) and other events on Chakkouba day.

The festival has encompassed other communities over the last few decades, standing as a testimony of love, unity and integration in the state.

However, the violence in the state spanning over five months that killed more than 180 people, injuring 1108, and rendering about 60,000 homeless, has damaged social fabric greatly.

Thousands of houses and other properties have been destroyed since the ethnic conflict broke out 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 perpetual conflict, when the people whose houses and properties were destroyed by miscreants are 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.

Premjit Singh from Imphal East district said that he is not in the mood to celebrate Chakkouba and has resolved not to invite his sisters to celebrate the festival.

Keisham Ongbi Aruna, a former journalist from Konba Laishram Leikai in the same district, also 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."

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 world 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 decided not to celebrate the festival.

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

A Meira Paibi Lup (women vigilante group) leader of Wangoo area in Bishnupur district bordering the tribal-dominated Churachandpur district 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 pain and suffering owing to the crisis, she said.

IANS with superficial edits

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