Totems, in the form of tall bamboo poles decorated with three to nine circular bamboo rings draped with cloth cut in geometrical shapes, are a marked feature of the Meithei society. The bamboo poles are to be straight ones and of the biggest variety. The rings are of uneven sizes, with the smallest ring adorning the tip of the poles and the biggest ring decorated at last. These totems are known as Shattra, considered a must for various rituals and ceremonies. Shattras are offered and used as a sacred item for festivals, honouring the Umanglais (Sylvan Deities). Such totems are also used in rituals connected with the shifting of Pukhris (ponds), shifting of temples etc., and in death ceremonies and Shraadha, Phiroi (first death anniversary) etc.
At Katrang, an island on the Loktak Lake, people erect tall straight bamboo poles, with a lovely cluster of small branches and leaves at the tip, in their courtyards. These totems signify that the daughter about to get married in the family is engaged to her future husband. On the festive occasion of Hari-oo-than, the Meithei Hindus erect tall straight bamboo poles, of the biggest variety, on which circular bamboo rings are fixed. In the villages, young girls prepare garlands of marigold flowers with which they ornament the rings on the bamboo poles, thus presenting lovely flower totems. When erecting totems to appease or to honour Wangbren, one of the Umanglais of the Meitheis, the practice is to select tall straight bamboo poles with enough foliage on the tip on which small bells are hung, and to erect them in the courtyard of the temple.
The Maring tribal belt puts up several bamboo totems in their courtyards, on the occasion of the Yaakiyo ceremony. These totems are erected to inform the people and the ancestors of the particular families that the ceremony is being observed. On the top of these totems are hung replicas of birds and animals, made of bamboo and wood. An elevated balcony of bamboo is constructed all around the courtyard. This serves as seats for the people who play drums, gongs, etc. on the occasion.
Cane and Bamboo Products of Manipur
Crafts of Manipur
Bamboo and Cane Crafts of Manipur
Bamboo Crafts in India
Tribes of Manipur
Festivals of Manipur
Manipur Temple Festivals
Bamboo Products of Meitheis in Manipur
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