Manipur is a land of festivities, fun and frolic all the year round. Through out the year, Manipur is busy with the cycle of festivals. Hardly a month passes without a festival or two. The festivals of Manipur projects their cultural, social and religious aspirations which, besides removing the monotony of life and help the people lead a better and fuller life.
Important festivals of Manipur are the Dol Yatra (Holi) in March, Rath Yatra (Car fesival) in June-July and Durga Puja in September-October. Manipuri Hindus celebrate New Year Day, in the second week of April.
The Festivals of Manipur
Celebrated for five days commencing from the full moon day of Phalguna (february/March), Yaoshang is the premier festival of Manipur. The Thabal Chongba - a kind of Manipuri folk dance, where boys and girls hold hands and sing and dance in a circle, is particularly associated with this festival. Boys and girls and old women collect donations from house to house and the money so collected is spent in a number of parties and feast.
It is an autumn festival of the different tribes of Kuki-Chin-Mizo groups of Manipur. The festival has been variously described at different places amongst different tribes as Chavang-Kut or Khodou etc. It is a happy occasion for the villagers whose food stock is boundiful after a year of hard labour. The festival is a thanks giving featsts with songs and dances in merriment and joviality for all, in honour of the giver of an abundant harvest, it is observed on the 1st of November every year.
Ningol Chakouba Festival
It is a remarkable social festival of the Meiteis. Married women of the family who were married to distant places come to the parental house along with her children and enjoy sumptuous feast. It is a form of family rejoining to revive familial affection. The festival is also observed by the Pangals (Manipuri Muslims) to a certain extent now-a-days. It is observed on the second day of the new moon in the Manipuri month of Hiyangei(November).
Ramjan ID - The festival of Manipuri Muslims
Ramjan Id is the most popular festival of the Manipuri Muslims (Meitei Pangal) in Manipur and is observed in the usual spirits of joy and festivities as in other Muslim world Ramjan is the ninth month of Hijri year since the time of prophet Mohammed. This month is spent on prayers. After the month on the second day of shawwal, when the new moon is visible they break fast and this fast breaking day is called Id-Ul-Fitre. On this day, they go to the mosques to offer prayers and take delicious dishes, exchange greetings and call on the friends and relatives.
Celebrated for seven days in the month of December, the Chumpha festival is a great festival of the Tanghul Nagas. The festival is held after harvest. The last three days are devoted to social gatherings and rejoicing. Unlike other festivals women play a special role in the festival. The concluding part of the festival ends with a provession within the village.
Celebrated for five days in the month of Wakching (December / Janaury) GANG-NGAI is an important festival of the Kabui Nagas. The festival opens with the omen taking ceremony on the first day and the rest of the days are associated with common feast, dances of old men and women and of boys and girls, presentation of farewell gifts etc.
The Christains of Manipur, observed for two days on December 24 and 25. Prayers, reading of Gospels, eating, singing of hymns, lectures on Christ, sports etc., form the major part of the festival. In some villages where the inhabitants are well-off, the celebration continues till Janaury 1 on which the New Years day is also observed.
This is the Manipur New Year Festival. During the festival, people clean and decorate their houses and prepare special festive dishes which are first offered to various deities. Celebrated during the month of April, a part of the ritual entails villagers climbing the nearest hill tops in belief that it will enable them to rise to greater heights in their worldly life. The Pangals (Manipuri Muslims) also observe it.
Celebrated in the month of September, a festival of joy, with little religious significance along a 16 metre wide boat. Long narrow boats are used to accommodate a large number of rowers. Idol of Shri Bishnu is installed before the commencement of the race.
This is Ratha Jatra of Manipur. One of the greatest festivals of the Hindus of Manipur, the festival is celebrated for ten days(July). Lord Jagannath leaves his temple in a car known as 'Kang' in Manipur pulled by pilgrims who vie with one another for this honour.