(Last Updated on : 28-03-2013)
The state of Manipur can be defined as a land of festivities. All festivals in the state of Manipur are celebrated with abundant fervor and enthusiasm. The festivals of Manipur are a tribute to the rich culture and legacy of the state. If you spend a year in Manipur you will know that the land is not only known for its scenic beauty but also represents a number of festivals. In fact the festivals of Manipur epitomize their cultural, social and religious aspirations. The festivals of this state are profoundly rooted in the Hindu mythology and old cultural traditions. The festive celebrations not only make for unrestrained merriment but also reveal to the entire humanity the rudiments of a progressive social order within its conservative and time-honored framework. The multi-colored festivals of this state also remove the monotony of daily life by providing mental recreation, physical diversions and emotional outlet. The chief festivals celebrated in this state are:
Yaooshang (Dol Jatra)
This is one of the important festivals of Manipur. This festival starting from the full moon day of the Phalgun month or the months of February/March is celebrated for five days. This is in fact one of the premier festivals of Manipur. Both the male and female folk indulge themselves in various cultural performances, especially the Thabal Chongba dance to forget the miseries of their life. Both young and old men collects donation from each household and then spends them all in community parties and feasts. Various games and sport meets are also organized to enhance the spirit of the festive celebrations.
This festival represents the worship of conventional deities and ancestors and is one of the most cherished festivals of manipur. It is in fact the most exquisite and colorful of the Manipuris. This festival is a brilliant combination of religious recitations, traditional songs and dances. It is observed by the people of Manipur in the month of May to revere the local deity Umang Thai. This much-awaited festival of Manipur celebrates the process of creation and twelve events display the phases of creation. This festival is also the ripe time for performing the Laipon dance, which symbolizes the birth of the God.
Kang (Rath Jatra)
This is one of the very important festivals celebrated by the Hindus in the state of Manipur. This hugely popular festival is celebrated by the people of Manipur for a span of ten days on the month of Ingen or in the months of June/July. It is believed by the locals that Lord Jagannath leaves his temple in a 'rath' known as 'kang' locally, which is pulled by pilgrims who vie with another for this honor.
This festival is celebrated in all districts of Manipur with equal zest and fervor and is reckoned as one of the most desired festivals of Manipur. It is generally regarded as a pot-harvest festival celebrated during the autumn months, on the 1st of November every year. It is observed keeping in mind the cause of social welfare even, that is to promote communal harmony, love and peaceful co-existence within all communities. This festival has been described variously at different places amongst different tribes as Chavang-Kut or Khodou etc. This festival in fact commemorates the bountiful harvest after a year of hard labor and also calls for unrestrained merriment in the form of thanksgiving feasts, traditional song and dances.
This festival is observed all across the state of Manipur in the month of September. It is regarded as a festival of joy with little religious significance along a 16-meter wide boat. The boat races form an integral part of this much popular festival. Long narrow boats are used to accommodate a large number of rowers. The idol of Lord Vishnu, who is regarded as the defender of faith and messiah of the deprived and helpless, is installed before the initiation of the race.
This is an important festival of Manipur celebrated by the Meiteis of Manipur. It is generally regarded as a social festival by the Manipuris and is celebrated on the second day of the new moon in the month of Hiyangei according to the Manipuri calendar or the month of November according to the English calendar. . During this festival the married women comes to their parental abode along with their children and is served with a lavish and sumptuous meal to enjoy. In other words this festival can be redefines as a family get together to revive the family affection.
This is one of the most special festivals of Manipur and is celebrated every year after the harvest of December for a period of seven days. It is the Tanghul Nagas who celebrate this festival with much pomp and show. The played by the women in this Manipuri festival is remarkable. During the last three days of the festival social gatherings are organized where the families and friends are cordially invites to indulge themselves in complete merriment.
This festival of Manipur heralds the New Year celebration of Manipur and is grandly celebrated in the month of April. It is considered by the locals as a very auspicious festival and all of them welcome the New Year grandly. The local deity is worshipped with much veneration and people greet each other by visiting the houses of relatives and friends. This festival is not only remarkable for the enchange of gifts and ideas but also witnesses equal participation of the Hindus and the Muslims. On the special day the locals of the state climb the nearest hilltops, which embodies the rise of human civilization to greater heights.
This is a very significant festival of the Kabui Naga tribe of Manipur and is celebrated in the Manipuri month of Wakching or on the months of December/January according to the English calendar. This festival gives one the full opportunity to be aware of the customs and religions of the diverse sects of the state. This festival starts with the omen taking ceremony. The first five days of this festival marks the honoring of the ancestors through assorted consecrated rites and rituals. Then there are community fiestas, cultural performances to mark the grand festive celebration.
One of the important festivals of Manipur is the Ramjan Id. This festival is celebrated by the Muslims of Manipur with much vivacity and enthusiasm. It is in fact the biggest and the most popular festivals of the Muslim population there. On this festival the Muslims fast for the whole day till the sunsets. The whole month is spent on constant offerings of prayers till the night the new moon comes up. This day of festive celebration is observed with grand and sumptuous feasts and exchange of greetings between the Muslims. The whole Muslim community goes to mosque to offer prayers and to enjoy the delicious banquets. The celebration of Id-Ul-Fitre marks the end of Ramjan Id.
Kwak Yatra (Dussehra)
This is a very special festival of the Manipuris and is celebrated during the months of September/October. In this grand festival Goddess Durga is appeased with much exuberance and ebullience.