Manipur observes Heikru Hidongba festival
Heigru Hingdongba, popularly known as the traditional boat race festival of Manipur, was celebrated today at the moat of Bijoy Govinda with elements of religion, custom and other traditional belief of creation.
As performed every year on the 11th day of Manipuri Calendar month Langban, the festival of Heigru Hingdongba was performed today at the moat of Bijoy Govinda with elements of religion, custom and other traditional belief of creation.
The festival which is celebrated on the 11th day of Manipuri Calendar month Langban Many at the moat of Bijoy Govinda was thronged witnessed by many people. A pamphlet published by Shri Shri Bijoy Govinda Sevayet Committee stated that the festival is historically one of the several festivals which brings prosperity to our community and it began during the reign of Irengba in 948 A.D. With the passage of time and through the reign of several kings, many changes took place in the religious life of the Meiteis.
The culmination was attained during the time of Maharaja Bhagyachandra. Meidingu Nongpok Leirikhomba(Anasthasai) uncle to the king tried hard to preserve the tradition and to make an adjustment between the old and the new, the pamphlet added.
In 1979, Keikru Hidongba was performed at the moat of Bijoy Govinda, with Govindaji from the royal palace came with customary rites and rituals after the completion of which was installed in the new temple dedicated by Nongpok Leirikhomba at Sagolband Bijoy Gobinda Leikai, it said.
In the following year, it was subsequently decided to celebrate the festival every year on the 11th day in the Month of Langban.
During the festival, a twin boat sanctified by the presence of deity amidst chanting of Sankritana and music, arti was offered. Tengmaileppa( he who takes care of the boat), Hinao Shaba (he who steer the boat), Chang Shaba (he who looks after the one taking care of the boat) Nourungba (he who takes care of leakage of water inside the boat etc) and Naomang Shaba (he who helps the one who steers the boat) are the main participants of the race who will be dressed with Ningkham and Shamjin which is a traditional components of formal dress of such festivities and besides, there are some more oarsmen.
Along with this, the king will be present along with Vishnu but when the king is absent, the latter will occupy the seat where the traditional royal seat is laid out.
One day before the festival, the King and Vishnu are offered a ritual invitation. In the early times of the festival, the leader of the boats in flakes of silver and gold put in a Nganthak Tengnou Shaba (well-shaped earthen receptacle to put traditional smokes flakes) will be offered to Bijoy Govinda.
A garland of 108 amla fruits interspersed with a stem of Hub (wild grass) and another garland of 108 rice grains, peeled by hand, will be first offered to Bijoy Govinda and afterwards, placed at the hull of the boat.
Before starting the boat race, Bijoy Govinda will have a pleasant visit of the panoramic scenery and the two leaders of the boat after due offerings to God will start the race.
Though Heikhru Hidongba and Hiyang Tannaba appear to be a festivity of similar nature, there are lots of differences between the two. As Heikru Hidongba is performed with necessary rituals on an appointed day enjoined by the religious ad customary sanctions, it necessarily points to the difference between the two. The festival is not performed at any other place than at moat of Bijoy Govinda.
Historically, the moat was known as Tubi Irel. Once Meidingu Nongpok Leirikhomba was in the jail of King of Moirang in fetters from where he was freed by the plans of the daughter of Khelei Nungnang Leima Telheiba. Later, the moat was named Moirang Leima Thangapat.
The ceremony was organised at two different locations Sagolband Thanga Pat and Salampat, Lamlai, Imphal East.
Ritual programmes were conducted at both locations including boat race by wearing traditional dresses.
During the festival of 7th Heyang Tanaba organised by Ema Emoinu Thougal Thousil Kanglup Kangleipak and held at Salampat, Lamlai, Imphal East district, MLA, Govindas Konthoujam said with the development in society most of the water bodies has become vulnerable to changes.
In the present scenario, most of the water bodies have been replaced with roads and buildings. As a result, the people are facing the impact of drastic changes in the climate. At one time, most of the houses roofs were covered with thatches and leaves, he said. During that period, no climate change was observed. However, with the replacing of thatches to metals and concretes roofs, the people are facing drought and fluctuation in season as an effect of climate change, he added.
He further said to reverse the changing climate, the people need to plant trees at various hills of the State including the valley. Mass tree plantation could save the environment from artificial calamities including flash flood and drought, and others, said Govindas.
The general public need to promote indigenous games and culture as it will bring a positive impact indirectly to conserve the natural habitat of Manipur, he added.
He expressed his appreciation to social worker, Achoibam Deben for his support in organising such a programme. He urged the locality to organise mass tree plantation in the next few days in the area.
As a part of the programme, traditional folk songs and dance were performed and a boat race was also organised. A large number of people attended the festival with great enthusiasm.
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