Manipuri traditional hidak-phu fading into oblivion
Manipuri traditional hookah locally, known as ‘Hidak-phu or Hidakki Chapu’ said to be extremely potent with its unique flavour and quality, is about to become forgotten and completely non-existent in the world.
Showing concern that the traditional hookah mostly used for medicinal purposes (literal translation of Hidak-Phu is ‘medicine pot’), will become completely forgotten by the world, one Thokchom Ibopishak has expressed the need for authorities concerned to draw their attention on the matter.
“The ancestors of Thokchom household had been on the profession of making hookah from the earlier periods. Their children continued to learn the art of making hookah, as it was passed down from the forefathers. Following them, I had learnt the art and had been saving it from dying out. In Manipur, I think we are last of the ones who are still making the traditional hookah here,” he said.
In earlier days, many households with surnames such as ‘Phundribam’ and others used to make hookah but in the present day, it would not be an exaggeration to claim that only Thokchom household is still making them, he stated.
The hookah now being sold at other districts of Manipur are collected from here, and many would visit us to buy them for personal use, he further said adding “At times, we have come across replicas being sold at bazaar.”
The Thokchom colony of Netainanda Maning at RIMS road in Imphal West had been keeping up with the art of making traditional Manipuri hookah in the State. It is said that in India, the practice of smoking hookah began during the reign of Akbar the Great under Mughal Empire in 15th and 16th century. It is said that the practice was common in Middle East countries such as Egypt, Iran, Iraq Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey etc.
Though it is yet to be ascertained from where smoking of Hookah began exactly, it is still being used and smoked in many places in India. After East India Company left the country, smoking of ‘Shisha Hookah’ became popular in western countries and it is still enjoyed by smokers at places such a Hookah Bars etc in the modern world.
However, the hookahs which are being used at other corners of the world are enjoyed by smokers out of habit or recreational purposes only. They believe that the water in the hookah filters out the harmful components from the smoke.
The traditional Hookah of Manipur known as ‘Hidak-phu or hidakki chafu’ has been used since time immemorial and used for medicinal purposes as well.
Ibopishak informed that the water in the hookah and its moisture is collected to apply at many bodily ailments and believed that it helps in prevention of many diseases. Therefore, many still continue to smoke it for health benefits, he said.
Today, though many individuals in Thokchom household have received certificates and trainings in certain skills and crafts, they have not been much helpful and there is no guarantee that the art of making hookah would make them able to run their household, he stated.
It takes roughly 5-7 days to make one Hookah, he further informed adding the price varies from Rs. 200 to Rs. 8000 as per different sizes. If the price is calculated with the time and energy taken in making them, there is very little profit, he informed.
“If we stop continuing their production, Manipuri traditional Hookah will surely fade into oblivion. We still make them and carrying down its knowledge to the present generation so that it may not get lost and become forgotten,” he said.
Regarding the matter, he appealed the organisations which work closely with art and culture and the state government to draw their attention to save traditional Manipuri Hookah.
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