Ningol Chakkouba in the era of materials

James Heisnam
The day, every Ningol have been waiting for, only one day in a year and one of the happiest days for every member of the households, especially for the Ningols (married women). On this day, the Ningols all look so traditional and beautiful. In the traditional atires, she visits her parent’s home with varieties of sweets in her hands, for her beloved ones, full of joy, excitement and full of memories of her childhood days in her mind. And her brothers, father and everyone in the family too warmly welcome her by preparing a special meal in the traditional Meetei cuisine.
Any of the festival from any corner of the world cannot equal to the beauty of this festival. It, on the other hand, can be assumed as a family get-together in a year. Having a special meal together, exchange of simple gifts and blessings from her beloved father, mother, brothers and everyone in the family. It brings not only love to the family, but also those childhood memories, and it makes the day more emotional and beautiful.
One of the most emotional moment is when the Ningol is about to say, ‘goodbye’ to her beloved brothers, fathers and to every member of the family, she sometimes leave them with tears in her eyes seeing the places where she used to play, fight, quarrell with her friends, brothers and sisters back in those days.
But the beauty of the festival is vanishing year after year unfortunately because of the arrival of materialistic era. Today, we can see many people who don’t want this beautiful day to come, not because they don’t want to celebrate, but because they don’t want to get embarrassed infront of others; the others who loves the materialistic world.
Today if we don’t stop this new culture of gifting such costly materials in the name of traditional DAKSHINA/ DAKHINA from sweeping away the beauty of the festival,after some years, it will become a festival of DAKSHINA/ DAKHINA COMPETITION; not CHAKOUBA, not CHAK CHAMINABA . And I think it must be shocking and emotional for the poor families to see some sections of the people buying and gifting luxurious and highly valuable materials for their Ningols in the name of traditional DAKHINA/DAKSHINA.
Do you know what will be the world for thousands of poor, who feels the same love for their sisters and their daughters? They are worrying thinking whether they won’t be able to afford the DAKSHINA/DAKHINA. They are worrying thinking if their sisters won’t come.
Where have the beauty of the festival gone? Many a time, I have heard and seen many Ningols demanding costly stuffs in the name of traditional simple DAKSHINA/ DAKHINA. And I have aslo heard people saying, ‘The evolution of nature can’t be stoped.’ And I’m scared thinking if the arrival of new trend of gifting for NIGOL CHAKOUNA is also an evolution of nature.
Manipur is famous and known for her rich tradition, culture, achievements in the field of games and sports, arts and beautiful landscapes etc. And I do feel proud of all of these before whole of the world, but I really don’t want to make her more known by wasting our wealth. In fact, you must have seen people wasting money in buying firecrackers on every DIWALI. And the funny thing is, I have seen many couples fighting on the next day for not being able to pay their children’s school admission fees.
Whatever we do is within the boundaries of our capabilities, but we must not forget one thing that the so called capital city Imphal is one of the highest unemployed urban areas among all other urban areas in India.
If you don’t trust me, do visit and survey every household and see how many children who are not able to go to school for not having the money which you had wasted the previous years in buying firecrackers on the day of DIWALI.
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