Manipur, The Jewel of India

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Manipur

A microcosm within India, Manipur is a land that is home to several unique cultures and pristine beauty. From its paddy-field-laden valleys to orchid blooming hill tops, Manipur exists in the old world and the new simultaneously, carrying forward its thriving traditions from hundreds of years ago.

The Valley

The oval-shaped Imphal valley holds not only the capital city but the beautiful Loktak Lake as well. Imphal city, with the Kangla Fort at its centre continues to be the seat of power as it has been for centuries. From Manipur, all roads lead to Imphal. Every other district is connected from here and all major arts and culture facilities are available in the city and its surroundings.

Right from the Kangla Palace to important monuments scattered around Imphal, the Manipuri royal dynasties have left their mark and still command a great degree of respect among the people here.

The Hills

The Imphal valley is surrounded by layers and layers of hills, inhabited by various people. The hill districts each have their own character and cultural traditions, making Manipur one of the most diverse states in India. It is said that in districts like Ukhrul, some 200 villages located close to each other, each have their own dialect that the neighbouring villages would find difficult to understand. There are also incredible caves, roaring waterfalls and interesting trekking possibilities, making the Manipur hills a nature lover’s paradise. Being extremely biodiverse, there are many animals and plants that are indigenous to Manipur, the most popular among them being the state flower, the Shirui lily, which blooms only in the months of April, May and June.

The Manipur hills were also witness to some of the worst air crashes and guerrilla warfare during the Second World War and lingering memorials and places marked as theatres of war are testimony to this.

The People

Like the rest of the Northeast, Manipur’s People are hospitable and welcoming.

The people of Manipur belong to three main ethnic communities – the Meiteis, the Nagas and the Kuki-Chins. A sizeable number of Nepalis, Bengalis, Biharis, Marawaris and even a small Tamil community, also call sub-groups among them. The primary language spoken is Meiteilon (or Manipuri). Tangkhul, Kuki, Lushai, Hmar, Paite and Thadou are some of the other key languages in the state. Most people understand English, even more so than Hindi, and usually proficiency in English is enough to acquire basic information. The Muslim community of Manipur adds to its multicultural diversity.

Customs & Cultures

A self-contained civilization, the state has its own unique forms of music, dance, worship, sports, martial arts, clothing and the list goes on. The people too are proud of their rich heritage. While decades of interval conflict have left scars in the region and its people, it is a state that is moving on to embrace a future filled with hope, into which it can carry forward its great legacies.

In terms of religion, there are Meiteis who are devout Vaishnavites and practice a unique form of Hinduism that is a confluence of Sanamahi, the indigenous religion of the Meitei, and Vaishavite traditions. A large percentage o the people also practice Sanamahism, as well as Islam.

There are may festivals all through the year such as Yaoshang, a five-day celebration commencing from the full moon day in the month of February; and the Kut festival observed on 1st November every year.

Maipuris enjoy martial arts and sports, especially equine sports. They are trained as horse-borne warriors, and Manipur is the birthplace of polo. Martial art forms such as Thang-Ta are still widely practiced. Many Manipuris have succeeded in the sporting arena, notable among them Mary Ko, Sarita Devi in the boxing arena, and many popular footballers such as Milan Singh and Rennedy Singh who have both represented India on the international stage. The Manipur women’s football team has won the highest number of national football championships held so far in India. Travelling to Manipur will surely bring you closer to the state’s multicultural people and its unique culture and tradition.

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