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The concept of Singlup

IFP Editorial: The basic foundation of any education model should be to inculcate understanding of oneself, including one’s culture, history and geography.

ByIFP Bureau

Updated 19 May 2022, 5:06 am

Imphal, Manipur (PHOTO: IFP)
Imphal, Manipur (PHOTO: IFP)

Manipur’s titular King and Rajya Sabha MP Leishemba Sanajaoba’s call for reviving the Singlup system is indeed welcome for the society as a whole. Singlup is in fact the last surviving social and traditional institution of Meitei society, but down the line it has transformed so much that it is not recognisable anymore. Every Leikai has a Singlup till today, but the basic foundation on which it was developed by our ancestors and its basic function seems to have been forgotten.

In the literal sense, Singlup is a social institution developed at the Leikai level where every married male automatically becomes a member and its basic function is to help out in the conduct of rites and rituals relating to death of a family member in the Leikai. In olden times, every member contributed either in cash or kind to the family of the deceased towards expenses relating to cremation and conduct of Asti Sanchay or Mangani Leihun and Shradhha or Lanna Thouram. It begins by contributing firewood for cremation of the deceased person and participation of a male member from a family is compulsory and anybody who is absent without valid reason is fined.

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For the Asti and Shradhha ceremony, members of the Singlup help in erection of mandaps with of course bamboo and other materials brought by the members, while women-folk from every family come and contribute rice, vegetables and fruits and also participate in preparing food items and other eatables. In short, the family of the deceased is not left alone in grief as everyone helps out. Any unexplained absence in these activities is frowned upon by the Leikai even sometimes to the extent of not participating when death occurs in the family of the absentee. This form of community participation is also very much there in other ceremonies relating to rites of passage from birth to death.  

With time, the concept of Shingyen and Potyeng has evolved especially in the practice of giving Potyeng. When earlier the contribution was mostly in kind, it has now been replaced by contribution of money. Sadly, this community spirit has greatly diminished in recent times by the impact of urbanisation and the growth of the service sector in erecting mandaps and catering groups. In most urban areas, community participation has become almost non-existent with most families opting for professional mandap houses and caterers.

Gone are the days when every youth helped out in the erection of mandaps and young girls happily participating in preparation of vegetables and food. Besides the work, the gathering of old and young also served as a forum for community interactions on various social issues. Now, the challenge before us is how do we revive the sense of community participation in our traditional institutions like Singlups. The local club is no substitute for such traditional institutions or social functions, although clubs exist in every Leikai. A number of brainstorming sessions with the involvement of sociologists and intellectuals is needed to thrash out the issues involved. A radical shift in our social and political perspective among the general population is also needed.

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Right from the grassroots and village level, there is a need to change the mindset of honouring the rich and officers with positions of power in leading and decision making at the village level. For example, people always tend to offer the post of club president not to the deserving social workers but to persons who could bear public expenses from one’s own pocket without taking into consideration that the income might have been ill-gained. This trend needs to be overturned also.

We would like to suggest a campaign among the youth on our history and geography through well thought out programmes and e-events. We have been blaming our youth for not loving the land they are born in and for their lack of respect for culture and lifestyle. It is not for us to blame them. They have not been properly educated on the history and geography of the land resulting in lack of understanding oneself and one’s origins. The basic foundation of any education model should be to inculcate understanding of oneself, including one’s culture, history and geography.

- EDITORIAL

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First published:18 May 2022, 7:36 pm

Tags:

manipurLeishemba SanajaobasinglupMeitei society

IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur

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