Monday, July 13, 2020

The People

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

Customs and Traditions

The religious customs and traditions of Manipur are unique. They are organised in such a manner that in temple institutions those reveal the real festivity and reflect the curious character of socio-religious life of the valley. It involves the ethics and aesthetics of Manipuris. Mass propagation of Hindu customs and traditions in Manipuri society is the indicator of their reverence towards the Hindu deities and temples. 


In Meities the rites and rituals are now on the Hindu pattern but certain traditional rituals are also combined. During pregnancy the mother is not restricted on any kind of food. Savasti Puja is conducted on the birth of the child. A day is fixed by the Brahmin. On the fixed day relatives from the child's mother side visit the house. They come in a procession. This procession is a unique one. The women wear saffron, fanek and white chader and woolen endi or white silk shawl. They carry presents in round baskets in which Muri Laddos, leaves, nuts, kalasa, fish and clothes for the child and the mother are placed. The procession is arranged in a single file, the women followed by the men. When they reach the house, they keep the gifts around the newly born child. Kirtans are arranged. Kirtan party and the mother and the child sit round the Tulsi plant.


Marriages are performed in accordance with the customs. Before the marriage parents of the boy go to meet parents of the girl. This starting approach is termed 'Hinaba'. The horoscopes are tallied and if both the parents agree then the next date for the meeting is fixed. On the next meeting, called Yathang Thanaga, the consent is given by the girl's parents. The next stage is 'Waroipot puba' and the groom's family members bring food and the contract is finally sealed. Finally the engagement is declared amongst the friends and relatives, this is called 'Heijapot'. Friends and relatives from the boy's side then go to the girl's parents with food, fruits and presents. The girl's parents also invite their friends and relatives. The marriage is fixed by the Brahmin. A Manipuri marriage party is of a great show but little is wasted for giving meals. A marriage in a Meitei house in Imphal will be attended by not less than thirty cars. A marriage attended by a procession of cars is considered a status symbol. The men dress in dhoti and kurta with a shawl wrapped around and women in pink 'fanek' and white chader. The reception is very formal. At the entrance of the gate a Meitei woman extends a Thali containing a banana leaf in which the betel nut, pan and tamul is arranged. The arrangement for sitting is made around the Tulsi rostrum. In each Meitei house the Tulsi plant is grown over a raised rostrum. All ceremonies are conducted around this plant.

The bridal dress is unique. It is obligatory for the bride to wear the Raslila skirt. The bride-groom's dress is white dhoti, kurta and turban. Kirtans and Shahnai music is started when the bride and the bridegroom make seven rounds round the Tulsi plant. The bride follows the steps in rhythmic styles with the Shahnai music. She has to perform the role of a gopi. There are many good points in Meitei marriages. Tshere is no stress on huge expenditure. The ladoos and sweets are distributed after the marriage ceremony. The guests are given Dakshina. The dowry is not as a compulsion but voluntary. The parents of the girl provide essential items for her use such as utensils, sewing machine, implements, clothes etc.