The Meiteis – Festival and celebration maniacs

Samarjit Kambam
We the Meiteis are a carefree lot. We always look forward for more celebrations and festivals. We want each day to be a day of great pomp and show. The thirty plus ethnic communities in Manipur have their own separate festivals. But we the Meiteis take part in whatever festivals that take place in our State. We take part in Christmas, Idul-Fitre/Idul-Zuha, Holi, Durga Puja, Diwali, Sankranti, Maha Sivaratri, Kut, Gaangai, Lui-Ngai-ni etc etc over and above our own indigenous festivals viz, Yaoshang, Cheiraoba, Ningol Chakkouba etc. Is it because we are quite liberal in our outlook or are we the Meiteis festival and celebration crazy group of people? I am leaving the answer to you, dear readers.
Over and above, we get ourselves involved in two big celebrations viz, Bye Bye and New Year in tandem. Even though ours is a dry state, booze flows everywhere albeit a bit costlier. Bye Bye celebration of the old year goes on in almost every Meitei households where boozing, doping, hooching, hooha-ing are the main ingredients of the celebration in the name of bidding adieu to the present year which goes on till midnight and doing all the wild things, sometimes engaging in tussles followed by the usual fireworks routine thereby spending huge monetary resources. In the Bye Bye celebration of the year considered old, many remain awake untill midnight waiting for the new day which is usually called the New Year’s Day. Some wait for the first ray of the sun of 1st Jan to herald as though the first ray of the sun would wash away all the miseries and sufferings of the previous year and then start the hogmanay of the day afresh. For the same, more booze are consumed on the next day which is considered the New Year’s Day. In fact, we the Meiteis are celebration and festival maniacs. But are the Bye Bye and New Year celebrations really worth it? A new year means an addition of a year in our lives, getting older by one more year.
As per the writer’s opinion, every moment is a new moment and each day is a new day. So every day is a new day. Generally, a ‘day’ is considered as the period from sunrise to sunset, but universally, 24 hours maketh a day. A day may be viewed from different perspectives i.e from the individual point of view, geographical, natural and from various other angles. Viewing from the personal level, a person may wake up with a headache, toothache or back pain which he had not encountered the previous day. A person who was alive and kicking may die the next day due to accident or other incident beyond his control as nobody can break the armour of fate. A homeless person may become a millionaire the next day after winning a lottery of some sort. A day we may wake up quite early with the sound of birds chirping, feeling refreshed and strong. Another day we might find ourselves waking up feeling lethargic, weak and numb with the blinding sun’s ray flowing through the window. One may argue that there are some people who wake up everyday at the same minute of the same hour by following the alarm but however punctual he may be there will always be difference of a few seconds. Even if he turns out to be a military man such as a Black Cat Commando, an SAS, a Green Beret, a Navy Seals whether ex or serving and boasts of jumping down from bed every morning with the precision of a second’s timing, there still will be difference in timing by some fractions of a second from one day to another.
So, counting from the moment we wake up, the difference in each day arises. Here comes the point I want to bring forth – sometimes I wonder why we celebrate New Year’s Day. Wasn’t the previous day i.e. 31 Dec a new day? Of course, as per calendar, 1st January is taken as the beginning of the very year. But the 2nd January will also be a new day of the year and the same applies for subsequent days. Also, as per the change in season, night time increases with the onset of winter and day time increases as summer arrives in tandem with spring season. It is rather interesting to find out that we the Meiteis throng at scenic spots and various other places of tourist interest in Manipur to celebrate New Year keeping behind the fact that we are getting older by one year. The reason is that we the Meiteis are easy going, fun loving folks who are always looking for more fun, entertainment and more enjoyment. Works are always kept secondary. We are always ready to forgive and fast to forget however insulted and provoked we are and seem to live our lives only for celebrations, festivals and more celebrations.
From a pessimistic point of view, there’s nothing to feel happy about a new year for a new year adds one more year to our physical being, a step closer to our natural graves. It is time to realise that we the Nagas, Kukis, Meiteis, Meitei Pangals and numerous ethnic groups are blood-brothers even though we are segregated by the peculiar topography of Manipur. We hope and pray that this New Year heralds into an era where every community eschew their myopic scope and do away with the “you”, “me”, “they” outlook. Let’s always remember that we have been co-existing with love and affection as brothers and sisters since millennium and be aware of the divisive policy played by some elements and entities of vested interest to break the delicate social fabric of brotherhood amongst us. So, lets stop the blame-game and bear in mind that only unity is the need of the hour before we become history. The status quo of the indigenous people of Tripura may be cited as an example.
Most people make New Year’s Resolution but only a miniscule percentage live upto the resolutions taken with many of us forgetting them the next day. For this New Year 2018, let striving for peace, unity and love amongst the different communities by shunning violence and hatred become our collective resolution. The major communities viz Nagas, Kukis, Meiteis should set examples by treading on the path of brotherhood and love. We should never forget that we are children of the same mother even though we are from different geostrategic locations.
Once we stick by the collective resolution with heart and soul then peace, progress and prosperity will definitely follow and prevail. Even though we the Meiteis are festival and celebration maniacs, we always yearn for peace in the days to come. Let’s not forget that every day is a new day and treat each day with optimism, vigour, hope and love for one another.
Wishing all my brothers and sisters regardless of plain and hills a happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year 2018.
(The writer can be reached at [email protected])

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