Manipur celebrates Sajibu Cheiraoba every year around March end or the dawn of April. The celebration is marked by ritual performances, invoking good tidings for the year. However, there is nothing religious about it though many have tried to interpret Cheiraoba festival of the Meitei community as a religious event celebrated by the Meitei Hindus and followers of the ancient religion on separate dates.
Cheiraoba festival heralds a New Year based on the lunar calendar relating to the mathematical calculations vis-à-vis the cultural heritage and tradition of the Meitei communty in India.
We find ancient texts of Meitei astronomy or astrology which is distinct from other cultures in mainland India. We also find similar traditions of celebration of the New Year on the same date as Sajibu Nongma Panba in other parts of the country also and beyond in South East Asia.
Sajibu Nongma Pānba popularly known as Meetei Cheiraoba is the first day of the first month of Meitei calendar Sajibu.
The name Sajibu Nongma Pānba derives from the Manipuri words Sajibu - the first month of the year which usually falls in the month of April, according to the Meitei lunar calendar; Nongma meaning first date of a month and Pānba - to be. Literally, it means the first day of the month of Sajibu.
Similarly, according to the Hindu lunar calendar, the lunar New Year is celebrated on the same day as in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and many other Indian states.
According to the followers of the Meitei indigenous faith, Meitei New Year or Sajibu Nongma Panba started during the reign of King Maliya Phambalcha (1359 BC-1329 BC), also known as Koi-Koi. Koikoi ascended the throne at the age of 25 years. From this day, the dating of Meitei calendar (Cheiraoba) known as Mari-Fam was introduced.
Hence, 1359 BC will be 25 MF, and 2000 AD will be 3334 MF in Meitei calendar taking the birthday of Koikoi as 00 MF.  King Koikoi reigned till 1364 MF, according to the Meitei calendar (the Meitei calender is still unclear and unpublished though). Not to forget, Koi-Koi ascended the throne from King (Ningthou in Meitei) Kangba (1405-1359 BC).
However, Hindu astrologers would argue that the Meitei calendar does not have requisite number of days in a year and that adjustments were made in the Hindu calendar so as accommodate the gap. What they did not explain was that, Meiteis have their own way of adjusting the days as could be seen in the dead months (Asiba Thaa) reflected in their calendars. Sometimes, the same Meitei lunar month is found consecutively and the second one is taken as the real Thabaan. That is how the days are calculated according to the Meitei calendar.
Having said this, it may be further mentioned that Sajibu Nongma Panba is a celebration of the Meitei New Year in which offerings of food were made to sylvan deities and spirits to take away the ills and diseases and all other bad things to make way for good things to come in the New Year.
The New Year day begins with ritual offerings of fruits, vegetables, rice and other uncooked food items to the Meitei deity Lainingthou Sanamahi in the morning. After getting blessings from Lainingthou Sanamahi, an even number of dishes is prepared using the offerings.
Traditionally, the males of the house prepare the dishes, with the females helping. After the dishes for the feast are made, they are ritually offered at the front gate of the house. These locations are specially cleansed and sanctified before the offering by cleaning an area.
Another feature of Cheiraoba is that the Ningols or married sisters and daughters of a family would bring gifts for the male members of the family on this occasion, which in turn would be compensated during the Ningol Chakkouba when sisters and daughters are invited to the yearly feast.