State Govt takes Leirum Phee issue to Centre


State Govt takes Leirum P
By Our Staff Reporter
IMPHAL, May 31: Following reports that the traditional Leirum Phee designed Lengyan of Manipur is being produced in large scale under different name in a textile manufacturing unit in Uttar Pradesh, the State Directorate of Handlooms & Textiles has written to the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India to stop the production immediately.
State Director of Handlooms & Textiles, K Lamlee Kamei in the letter addressed to the Development Commissioner for Handlooms, Ministry of Textiles, GoI, noted that the traditional Leirum Phee designed Lengyan (muffler) which has cultural, historical and emotional value attached with the people and added that the Directorate had been taking up steps to get GI (Geographical Indication) tag for quite sometime.
It may be noted that the Leirum Phee Lengyan which they identified as "Gamcha" is being produced on powerloom in the textile manufacturing unit in Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh, according to reports. Significantly, the "Gamcha" is available for sale on Amazon at a price of Rs 249 per piece.
The Directorate of Handlooms & Textiles, in the letter pointed out that Prime Minister had worn the Manipuri traditional Leirum designed Lengyan (muffler) while addressing the Nation on Independence Day, August 15, 2019 and when he announced the COVID-19 lockdown 2.0 on April 14 recently. The Prime Minister had also worn the same in other rally and functions as well.
This particular Lengyan (muffler) is designed from a traditional cloth Leirum Phee of Manipur. Its production originally started in 9th-10th century without a flower design. Later flower design was added during the reign of Manipur King Loyumba in the 1074-1l12 AD. The cloth was woven by Shachilam clan at that time. The Leirum Phee is purely woven on handloom and used mandatorily in marriage ceremony of  Meiteis (which is majority community) in Manipur, mentioned the later.
The production of the present day Lengyan (muffler) was started in 2004 after a joint meeting of the "Sub-Committee on Publicity" on September 9, 2004. The Lengyan with Leirum design was officially used in the 1st India ASEAN Motor Car Rally 2004 and was gifted to the car rallyists and organisers promoting the ethnic product.
Thereafter, Manipur Handloom & Handicrafts Development Ltd started production and gradually became a "symbol of Manipur in every occasion."
The running video on the production of Leirum Lengyan (muffler) on powerloom in the textile manufacturing unit in Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh has attracted many objections from the people and local weavers. The emotion of the people of Manipur are running beyond imagination. Now, the attention of the Department has been drawn to explore the possibility of safeguarding the interest of the people and weavers.
The Directorate of Handlooms and Textiles had organised a workshop on Leirum Lengyan in 2018 inviting objections and suggestions for using it as official Lengyan (muffler) of the State.
In 2019, local religious organisations had suggested a State level seminar on Leirum Lengyan for registration of the product under Geographical Indication (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. Accordingly, the Directorate had started the processes for registration but was halted due to the sudden coronavirus outbreak, mentioned the letter urging the Government of India and the Ministry under Enforcement Rules to issue necessary instruction to the textile manufacturing unit in Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh to "immediately stop" the production so that the interests of weavers and emotion of people of Manipur are well protected.
Director K Lamlee Kamei said that Wangkhei Phee has already got GI registration and efforts are on to get the tag for Leirum Lengyan and Potloi.
Meanwhile, Ethno Heritage Council (HERICOUN), ACOAM-Lup, Kangleipak, Handlooms Promotion Council, Manipur, All Manipur Ethnical Socio-Cultural Organisation and other organisations have also urged State and the authorities concerned to safeguard the traditional Leirum Lengyan and get it registered as intellectual property of Manipur.