Ningol Chakouba: The Special Day for Married Sisters and Daughters

By FrontierManipur | Published On 05th Nov, 2021, 10:48 GMT+0530

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This festival bears testimony to the love between brothers and sisters and signifies the love between families.

By Sanjoo Thangjam

Ningol Chakouba  – Initially the festival was called Piba Chakouba, Piba means “Son” whereas on the other hand “Ningol” means married daughter and “Chakouba” means an invitation for lunch at the mother’s house.

This festival is said to have started in around the fourth century when Queen Laisana  invited her brother Poireiton to her home for a feast along with the royal family.

Later in nineteenth century, one day it is said that when King Chandrakriti visited his sisters’ home, he found them in a very pathetic conditions, and thus after seeing the conditions of their sisters, he was very upset and thereafter, he decided to invite them once year for a a luxurious feast in his palace. And thus King Chandrakiti started this new trend to invite all his sisters to his home and changed the Piba Chakouba to Ningol Chakouba.

Though earlier, originally NIngol Chakouba was exclusively celebrated by the Manipuri people, now it is celebrated by every ethnic group in Manipur as well.

However, it’s worth mentioning that for the first time this year, Hon’ble CM N Biren Singh arranged a traditional feast for the Ningols of Manipur under the theme (Ching -Tam Ningol Chakouba) on 3rd of November in his Bungalow where women belonging from different communities took part in it

Since time immemorial, this Manipuri festival has been celebrated in the entire region of Manipur as well as in other regions of Manipuri settlement. 

Moreover, with much enthusiasm, different  Manipuri Social Organizations also organises grand feast by inviting the people residing in hills combined with the exchange of presents and gifts with people of the valley inclusive of merry making and thanksgiving as a part of celebration.

It is also celebrated by the Meitei diaspora outside manipur.

Ningol Chakouba which is also known as Hiyangei Nini Paanba is because it’s celebrated on the second lunar day of Hiyangei. Hiyangei usually falls in the month of October or November of the Manipuri calendar. And this year, it falls on 6th of October and it’s celebrated once a year only

Invitations of Ningol Chakouba are conveyed in advance to all married daughters and sisters. Invitation cards are crafted from betel leaf rolled over betel nut. On the day of Ningol Chakouba married women dress themselves in colorful and lovely dresses and bring sweets, savories, fruits and other things for her parents and other family members.

On Ningol Chakouba parents welcome their wedded daughters to their “mapam” (mother’s house) for a grand feast.

Mothers prepare the favourite dishes for their daughters. Meat and fish are the main ingredients of the feast. They cook traditional dishes like Chagempomba, Pan Thongba, Iromba, and Champhut on the occasion. Daughters spend their time with their families the entire day. Later, they are offered gifts by their parents and brothers as well as blessings.

The married women visit in their finest traditional attire with their children. Gifts are offered with a blessing to the daughters and the grandchildren by the parents.

The son of the family formally does the invitation one week in advance, to his sister.

With no particular religious elements, this is a popular social celebration aimed at strengthening the bond of love and affection between married women and their parental families.

Manipur has a number of festivals during the year and Manipuri people always celebrate each festival with joyfulness and passion. Ningol Chakouba is a social festival and is dedicated to strengthen the bond between married women and their parental families.

Shopping on the day of Ningol Chakouba has become big attraction for people. Usually, two to three or even a week prior to the festival, markets are crowded with people and often witness traffic jams.
Old ladies sale fishes with great passion. People throng the market place to buy gifts, different types of fishes, green vegetables, multicolored traditional dresses and many more interesting things.

In one way, infact, it can be said that Ningol Chakouba is a sister’s day as it is totally dedicated to sisters who are married or unmarried. This festival nurtures relationships between siblings and families. Married daughters can get relaxation and fun time with their maternal family for one day by forgetting all her responsibilities at her in-laws’ house.

Communities of Manipur celebrate this social festival with great bliss and ecstasy to continue their culture for years. This festival is in general an icon of family love and affection.

Usually, as part of the festival, local TV channels broadcast special programs on women. Theaters arrange special screening shows and popular movies. And Tambola games or Housie are also played on this day where handsome awards and prizes are given to winners.

But I wonder if the government will allow the above events to be organised because of the present condition because of this dreaded Covid though of course, NIngol Chakouba will be widely celebrated

(The writer is a Columnist based in Imphal)

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