Kalum Kai: A house of worship of Zeliangrongs

Dr Budha Kamei 
Contd from previous issue
Tingkao Ragwang Kalum Kai
God is everywhere that He is ‘like wind’ and ‘like air.’6 There was no such time when He was not there, and there will be no such time when He will not be there. He is the origin and mover of all things in the universe. He was never born, and will never die. Fire cannot burn Him. Water cannot wet Him. Air cannot dry Him up. No weapon can cut Him. He is beyond change. He is formless and colorless. He is the protector of men.7 Horace8 says, it is “Who guides below and rules above, the great disposer and the mighty king; than he none greater; next him none can be, or is, nor was; supreme, he singly fills the throne.”
Kalum Kai is a place of worship and religious discourse. It is separate from the rest of the village in the way it is conceived, as physically treated and respected. Every TRC village must have one Kalum Kai; it is the most sacred ground for the people. It is usually built on the highest point of a village. It is done in the same model of the first temple built by Haipou Jadonnang and Rani Gaidinlu invoking tradition as a chain of memory for legitimation. Every Kalum Kai must be constructed facing to the east or north. East is vital for two factors: it signifies the direction of Bhubon cave, as well as that of the sunrise. According to Evan Pritchard, east indicates to life and west to death. Van Gennep says, the rites connected with laying the foundation for a house and constructing a house falls into the category of rites of passage.9 They follow certain ritual formalities in building of a house, without which the house is considered incomplete. Once the proposed site is selected; the ground is leveled and then an auspicious day for laying the foundation post is chosen by consulting with the priest/priestess. On the favorable day, they will perform a ceremony called Tengdai Khunmei, upright of foundation pillar invoking Tingkao Ragwang for successful completion. Usually, such ritual is performed in the morning when the sun rises in the east. In other words, it is good and favorable time to perform Tengdai Khunmei when the sun rises. Usually, Tengdai stands for the backbone of the house. This is followed by offering of holy wine to Tingkao Ragwang and deities. The front of the Kalum Kai looks like the front of ornamented ritual house of Tarang sacrifice (Tarang Kai).10 After completion of the construction, in an auspicious day, the House of worship/Kalum Kai is dedicated to Tingkao Ragwang with hymns, devotional songs and offerings. The offerings are consumed by the devotees as Prasad.
Before entering the Kalum Kai, the devotees are purified by sprinkling of water with Ten Mhaimit; shoes must be removed. It consists of one room; inside, at the far end is a pulpit/platform, centrally placed and elevated. One must climb the seven steps to it, proceeding the right leg, then left, and right….. On the left of the platform there is a bench for the office secretary and on the right is reserved for the secretary, president and priest of TRCP. At the center of the platform, Bamdon, a kind of chair made of wooden plank is adorned with male’s traditional clothes like Renglan and Pheingao muffler and a gold ring, which symbolizes the resting place of the Almighty God. It is about three feet from the Boudaan, which is painted on the wall. Two jugs are placed on both sides of the Bamdon for oblation of holy wine. Two spears are also upright on both sides of the same. There is an offering box for coin and paper money in front of the Bamdon; fruits, flowers and rice can be placed close to it. This offering is accompanied by a prayer (personal and private). Once that is finished, one must turn anticlockwise (away from the right) and return to one’s place. Secretary, president and intellectuals of TRC give lectures from the platform. Facing the platform is the space for worshippers; the right side is for the male and the left for female. There are two main entrances one at the front and another at the side; the same entrances are also used as exists. In addition, there is left side door.
Boudaan is a symbol of Tingkao Ragwang, which is painted in the Kalum Kai. This symbol is based on ritual worship of Tingkao Ragwang locally known as Tingkao Ragwangjang Lamei. The outer circle represents the universe and the two poles in the east and west represent as Didet (Bread). The two poles in the south and north represent as Ditung (Length). The centre space is known as Dichung (centre). The circle is the sun and the white circle is the moon. This symbol is used both in performance of prayer on every Sunday and every Full Moon Day offered to Tingkao Ragwang and any occasion of worship of Tingkao Ragwang. The universe, the sun, the moon, the earth and all other cosmic objects are the creation of Tingkao Ragwang, the Almighty God. He is believed to be absolutely benevolent.
Now, all the devotees of TRC use the name Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak (for short TRC) for educational, official, employment and census purposes. The symbol of Tingkao Ragwang does represent His divine grace and power as reflected in the cosmos and universe. This symbol is used as lockets and stickers and also the identifying mark of Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak (TRC). Under International Humanitarian Law and the Geneva Conventions, religious buildings/places of worship are offered special protection, similar to the protection guaranteed hospitals displaying the Red Cross. These international laws of war bar firing upon or from a religious building.11
Kalum Kai is a place of worship and religious discourse. It is a sacred place for the TRC people. TRC is growing day by day based on the Kalum Kai. Religious architecture expresses the religious belief, aesthetic choice, and economic capacity of the people. The Kalum Kai of Chingmeirong, Imphal is the biggest temple among the indigenous religions in Northeast India. However, it was built by contribution of the people who wanted to protect and promote the indigenous religion.
Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak is giving great emphasis on the prayer and meditation on Tingkao Ragwang for the salvation of the soul of men. Every person may now try to attain salvation through the prayer to Tingkao Ragwang. Come and let us pray to Him on every Sunday and every full Moon day at Tingkao Ragwang Kalum Kai.