(Last Updated on : 12/02/2010)
Koirao tribes are known for their large surroundings around the part of Manipur. This tribal group is also known as Thangal. They are found in 9 hill villages of Sadar Hill Areas of the Senapati District. Mapao Thangal, Thangal Surung, Makeng Thangal Tumnou Pokpi, Yaikongpou, Tikhulen, Ningthoubam are some of them. These tribal groups mainly reside in the mountainous areas of Maram and Mao. Some populate the Senapati district especially the Sadar Hills.
The people of Koirao tribes proudly claimed that they belong to the birthplace of the founder of the present day Manipur
dynasty. They speak a local dialect, which is more or less similar to those spoken by Maram, Liangimi, Ronginei. The literacy rate of the Koirao is also quite high. A legend is also popular in the region, which talks about the origin of Koirao tribes. They came from northern region after emerging from a caveit is also believed that amongst the eldest of the three brothers, whose parents were not known, formed Koirao tribe. Basing on this legend, one can easily derive the fact that their primitive settlement was at the Kaipong range, located in the east of Maram in Manipur.
The major occupation of the Koirao tribes is agriculture. Majority of them are attached to the wet farming. Shifting cultivation is also practiced. Some of them even have taken up various governmental services. Womenfolk too are engaged in various cottage industries especially weaving. The agricultural implements that these Koirao tribes use to a great extent are adze, sickle, axe, plough, yoke etc.
The way these Koirao tribes wear clothes are unique. During social functions, the females deck up with clothes like Mik Keap thoi, a skirt and shawl Tang Kol maphi. Males prefer to wear Khom'nei, a loin cloth. A piece of cloth called Chak'rei is worn around the chest. In the Koirao society, there are seventeen ancestral lineages of Koirao tribes including Kadei Keimei, Payei Naomei, Syong Duimi, Payot Naomei and Deibung Naomi. The selection of mates is restricted by the 'rules of lineage exogamy' i.e. the brides should be from other lineage groups.
The Koirao society is a monogamous one following the tradition of a nuclear family. Marriage with a cousin from the mother's side is quite and that it was fixed through negotiation. Cases of marriage by eloping are a recent phenomenon. Giving gifts to the bride's family is not compulsory.
The conventional village authority of the Koirao tribes is fully invested in a council. A hereditary office of Khullakpa leads it. The council also consists of Khullakpa (chief), Luplakpa, Kangpara or Ganpara and Two Tans. They call the chief of their village council by the name of 'katammi'.
In earlier times, the Koirao tribes used barter system with other groups for food, jewelleries, earthen pots, baskets etc. Festivals are as many as there are days in the calendar of the Koirao society. Maximum of these festivals commemorate various socio- religious rituals and customs related to farming.
Some of the festivals are fixed as per the position of full moon (Hadet). In the month of May or Kaphala, the first Thangal month, the two-day festival of Kapha is held. They worship Keirong-raiba for good health and prosperous society. In Jangheiha month (May-June) festivals of Imphoi Imphoi Dangnit are held. Special prayers are held to save the seed-grain from pests etc. Janghei is a two day festival feted to beat back evil spirit, namely saraikagai. Some other festivals like seed sowing festival called Linhut tangnit.
Besides these festivals, dance festival like Kakhoi Yagathou is observed. This involves praying the deity for prosperity and growth of village. Naogagathou genna, Giphiyotangatha and linhut Dangsit are also some of the common festivals of the Koirao society.