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Manipur celebrates Sajibu Nongma Panba Cheiraoba

First Published: 22nd March, 2023 18:34 IST

Sajibu Nongma Panba festival is the lunar new year of the people who follow the religion of Sanamahism in Manipur

Meiteis in Manipur are observing the Sajibu Nongma Panba festival, also known as Meetei Cheiraoba or Sajibu Cheiraoba, with great fanfare and a feast today.

Sajibu Nongma Panba festival is the lunar new year of the people who follow the religion of Sanamahism in Manipur.

The name Sajibu Nongma Panba derives from the Manipuri words: Sajibu, the first month of the year, which usually falls during the last week of March and April according to the Meitei lunar calendar, Nongma, meaning the first date of a month, and Pnba, meaning to be.

Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh, celebrating the festival, extended Sajibu Nongma Panba’s prayers for Manipur.

“Yaifaraba Sajibu Nongma Panba Cheiraoba! May this auspicious festival fill the people of the state with hope, happiness and lots of success. I wish & pray that Manipur continues to prosper and grow with the blessings of the almighty,” N Biren Singh tweeted.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also extended Sajibu Cheiraoba wishes to the people of Manipur.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah also extended his heartfelt wishes to the people of Manipur on the occasion of Sajibu Cheiraoba.

“My heartfelt wishes to the people of Manipur on the auspicious occasion of Sajibu Cheiraoba. May this new year bring new hope, prosperity and well-being in everyone’s lives,” Amit Shah tweeted.

The festival begins with ritual offerings of fruits, vegetables, rice, and other uncooked food items to the Meitei deity Lainingthou Sanamahi.

Than after getting blessings from Lainingthou Sanamahi, an odd number of dishes, basically 3, 5, 7, or 9 are prepared using the offerings.

Traditionally, the males of the house make the dishes, with the females helping with the chopping and washing of the ingredients.

After the dishes for the feast are made, they are ritually offered at two different traditional locations around the house, one at the front gate of the house and the other at the rear gate of the house.

Traditionally, the eldest son of the house will make the offering to these three deities – Kumsana Kumliklai (Lord of the golden year), Lamsenba Tusenba (Guardian of the Land) and Lammaba Tumaba (Lord of the land) at this sanctified area.

The offering traditionally includes, an odd number (chang taaba) of dishes surrounding a small mound of steamed rice, a token currency, fruits, flowers, a candle, and an incense stick, all of them placed upon a plantain leaf.

This ritual is performed in the late morning.

After this ritual, the dishes prepared for the feast are exchanged with relatives or neighbors, and this custom is called “Mathel Laanba,” after which the feast will start. It is believed that on the day of the New Year, anything that happens on that day will happen for the rest of the year, i.e., if you are happy and healthy on that day, you will be happy and healthy for the rest of the year.

People in Moreh also invite people from Myanmar for the feast. Even though this festival is only for Meiteis, in the Indo-Myanmar border town of Moreh, it includes the “Duo Nation Festival. In which they share love, showing oneness to each other.

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