Mera Hou Chongba, the age-old festival that fosters unity and strengthens the bond of brotherhood between the indigenous hill and valley people, was celebrated today at the royal palace and Kangla Uttra with the exchange of gifts and warm greetings.
A large gathering, led by chiefs and chairpersons from numerous hill villages came to participate in the Mera Hou Chongba were received a warm welcome from the Manipur Rajya Sabha Member, Maharaja Leisemba Sanajaoba, at the royal palace at 10 in the morning.
A diverse crowd of valley residents joined the hill people at the royal palace before embarking on a procession to Kangla Uttra, hand in hand. All were dressed in traditional attire, and they were led by the titular king and Maibas and Maibis.
Maharaja MP Leisemba Sanajaoba emphasized the Meitei community’s values of peaceful coexistence, mutual respect, and collective development. He expressed that those opposing these principles cannot be forgiven. Mera Hou Chongba, celebrated on the full moon day of the Manipuri calendar month Mera, has a long history of reminding hill and valley people of their brotherhood.
At Kangla, rituals such as Mera Men Tongba and Yenkhong Tamba were performed in front of the Ibudhou Pakhangba temple. MP Leisemba Sanajaoba hoisted a lamp (Mera Thaomei) on a bamboo pole, symbolizing the unity between hill and valley communities.
In the afternoon, Chief Minister N Biren, MP Leisemba Sanajaoba, Ministers, MLAs, village chiefs, and chairpersons exchanged gifts and pleasantries at Kangla Uttra, followed by an exquisite cultural program of Mera Hou Chongba.
Chief Minister N Biren emphasized the significance of Mera Hou Chongba as a historic festival deeply ingrained in Manipuri society. He urged the protection of their motherland and culture, emphasizing his efforts to celebrate Mera Hou Chongba with grandeur since becoming Chief Minister in 2017.
After consultations with the royal palace, Lainingthou Sanamahi Temple Board, and Govindajee Temple Board, Mera Hou Chongba was declared a State-level festival. It is now celebrated as a common festival of both hill and valley people, promoting unity and brotherhood.
Mera Hou Chongba serves as a reminder of the shared history of hill and valley residents and acts as a unifying force for a united Manipur. Chief Minister Biren noted that distrust between different communities has dissipated, and bandhs and blockades have significantly reduced.
After two years of consultations with various stakeholders, the wedge in the mouth of Kangla Sha was removed, and the Kangla eastern gate was rebuilt over the Imphal River. The Kangla eastern gate is an exact replica of its historical version, copied from photographs of the original now in a London museum.
There was a belief that the ‘truth’ would emerge after the Kangla eastern gate was opened. The current crisis in the state is expected to lead to the emergence of the ‘truth’ and further strengthen the hill-valley bond.
The Chief Minister emphasized the government’s responsibility to protect both indigenous and old hill tribes. The Go to Hills and Go to Village missions were launched to promote unity between hill and valley people and ensure uniform development across the state.
The budgetary allocation for hill areas was increased to 45%, and a white paper on budgetary allocation for hill areas was produced in 2021-22. Chief Minister Biren appealed to hill and valley residents to treat each other with love and respect.
In response to the adverse effects of global climate change, the State Government has been working to combat deforestation and poppy cultivation to protect the environment. The Chief Minister proposed the celebration of Mera Hou Chongba on a grander scale with a variety of cultural programs from the next year.
He also suggested expanding the Mera Hou Chongba Celebration Committee by including distinguished personalities from both hills and valleys, expressing hope that the festival would bring a solution to the ongoing crisis and restore peaceful coexistence among all communities.
Prominent figures present at the function included Works Minister Govindas Konthoujam, RD&PR Minister Yumnam Khemchand, Health & Family Welfare Minister Dr Sapam Ranjan, Social Welfare Minister Heikham Dingo, Education Minister Th Basantakumar, Transport Minister Khashim Vashum, PDA Chairman Lourembam Rameshwor, MLAs, and Chief Secretary Vineet Joshi.
Chief Minister N Biren later presented the Khongleihanba AS Wungnaioyo Zimik Mera Hou Chongba Award 2023 to DK Mothilphun Maring (81), chief of Konaltong village, Tengnoupal district.
Photo credit : Khaba Kh (E-pao.net)