Sunday, January 20, 2019

The People

▪ Introduction ▪ Birth ▪ Marriage ▪ Death ▪ Customs of Nagas ▪ Customs of Kukis


The dead are cremated by Hindu rites. The dying person is taken out of the house to the verandah. The body is bathed and dressed in white clothes before it is cremated. The cremation is done on the bank of a river or lake. The fire is taken from the deceased's house. The body is placed on the pyre, the next of the kin walks around the pyre with fire burning from the sticks he is holding.
The Brahmin does incantations and then the pyre is lit. The males stay back till the body is consumed by fire. The persons who attend the funeral do not go home direct. They are allowed to go after taking bath. Those who go to the deceased's family, do not enter the house till they meet a person with fire. They believe the evil spirits are then removed. The deceased person's bedding is burnt. The bones of the deceased are collected from the ashes. These are placed in bamboo tubes and taken to holy places.

Agriculture is the main occupation of Meiteis. Therefore some rituals are concerned with it. The rice goddess is Phonoibi. The ploughing must commence on the Panchmi festival. The goddess is invoked  by the 'maiba'. The rice and flowers are mixed and wrapped in a banana leaf. It is then taken to the paddy field and the mixture is sprinkled on all four sides. The goddess is also worshipped after the harvest. 'Phon-Konba' ceremony is observed by offering sareng fish cooked with herb without spices and offered to the goddess with rice. They also carry out some rain rituals on the occasion of heavy rains or when there is severe drought. Kirtans and Havans are arranged in temples.

Polygamy is allowed but polyandry is disapproved socially. In the present day the trend is mostly to have only one wedded wife. A widow cannot marry her husband's brother. Divorce is very uncommon. Head hunting is no custom in Meiteis since their adoption of Hinduism. The Meiteis were in the habit of bringing in the heads of defeated enemies as  trophies of powers. This customs disappears when the gentler custom  which are associated with Hinduism became generally adopted  in the state. Meitie society of the present day is a highly advanced Hindu society and it has adopted all forms of ritualistic complexities. Theirs is a homogenous society. This can be observe at different ceremonies  like marriage, child birth,  sashti puja, temple ceremonies and festivals. The uniformity in the dress of men and women is the best proof of homogenous character.

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