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Ukhrul Denizens Add Color To Lai Haraoba Fest

Colourful rendition of a folk dance during the concluding day of Lai-Haraoba festival. Image Credit: Sangai Photo

IMPHAL, May 18: ‘‘It is a very precious opportunity for me to see the Lai-Haraoba festival, which is indeed a symbol of unity between the people of the hills and the valley’’, said K Remnu, who came all the way from Ukhrul district to see the role of the male actor who plays a Tangkhul on the last day of the Lai-Haraoba festival of the Meiteis.

K Remnu was among a group of 65 people from different parts of Ukhrul district like Hundung, Grihang, Khamasom, Litan and Ukhrul district headquarters, who came to Imphal yesterday to watch Lai-Haraoba festival at Wangoo Tampha Lairembi under Sugnu Assembly Constituency.

At the occasion of laying the foundation stone of a Guest House at Shirui in Ukhrul district on May 10, Works Minister K Ranjit Singh had fortuitously mentioned how the Lai-Haraoba festival of the Meiteis could not be concluded without the presence of a Tangkhul Saba (a male actor playing the role of a Tangkhul) while making a passing comment on the historical relationship between the two communities.

After hearing the comment of the Minister, many Tangkhuls expressed their desire to watch the Lai-Haraoba festival.

Accordingly, the Minister arranged the visit of a group of 65 Tangkhuls including elderly men and women, and boys and girls, who arrived at Imphal yesterday and attended the last day of the Lai-Haraoba festival at Wangoo Tampha Lairembi premises.

Upon their arrival, Minister Ranjit first took them to Sendra in Moirang to see the natural beauty of Loktak Lake. But the rain played spoil sport dampening the spirit of many of them who were expecting to see the biggest fresh water lake in the North East region for the first time in their lives. As arrangements were being made for the journey to the premises of Wangoo Tampha Lairembi, the sky became clear exposing Loktak in all its glory to the visitors from Ukhrul district.

When the vehicles carrying the visitors drove in at the premises of Wangoo Tampha Lairembi, a large numbers of girl students and womenfolk were there standing on either sides of the road carrying placards and festoons inscribed with ‘Welcome – Brothers and Sisters of Ukhrul’ touching the hearts of the visitors who were subsequently allotted proper seats from where they could enjoy the programs of the Lai-Haraoba being unfolded before their eyes.

At the occasion, a brief meeting was also facilitated during which the visiting brothers and sisters from the Ukhrul district expressed their opinions.

Speaking at the meeting, Church elder Ameison Shaiza said that they never thought such warm welcome would be waiting for them and they were indeed very surprise.

‘‘We are brothers and sisters and this fact should not be forgotten by the present generation. Let this visit be an opportunity for uniting the hill and the valley people once again’’, he exhorted.

K Remnu, who herself is an artiste, described Lai Haraoba of the Meiteis as a symbol of unity between the hill and the valley people.

‘It is a very precious opportunity for me to see the Lai Haraoba’’, Remnu added.

She also sang, ‘‘Loibi Chinglon Lanna Lakle… ’, an old Manipuri song much to the exhilaration of the gathering.

The president of Ukhrul Students; Union Godfryson Zingkhai hoped that ‘today’s event would help in promotion of peace and harmony among us’.

Principal Secretary (Works) Ram Muivah, who was also present at the occasion, recalled the fraternal ties between the Tangkhuls and the Meiteis and pointed out that it was Tangkhuls from 32 villages that have dug the moat of Kangla. The present Ima Keithel which was earlier known as Sana Keithel as well the BT Road has also been constructed by the Tangkhuls. The moat at Canchipur from where the King of Manipur had ruled at one time too had been dug by the Tangkhuls, he informed.

In appreciation of the works of the Tangkhul, the Maharaja provided land for settlement of these Tangkhul workers. But all of them have subsequently become Meiteis, he added.

Works Minister K Ranjit observed that one of the historical chapters that have remained buried for a long time had been reopened and let it be the beginning of a new chapter in the relation between the two communities.

The Minister also spoke on the significance of the presence of Tangkhul Saba in the Lai-Haraoba festival of the Meiteis as well as the essence of celebrating Mera Wa Yungba and pointed out that there is a still the spot at Hundung in Ukhrul district from where the Tangkhuls, who are considered to be the elder brother of the Meiteis, looked at the valley to see the light put by the younger brother in the valley. ‘‘Religion has kept us apart. But we are essentially one, we are brothers’’, the Minister added.

The visitors from the Ukhrul watched the Lai-Haraoba program enjoying the acting of the Tangkhul Saba late into the night. At the occasion yesterday, MLA of Wangoi A/C hosted the Potlanba program.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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