Understanding its real essence Ningol Chakkouba

There is something beautiful in this and its beauty perhaps lies in the fact that it is one of the few festivals which is strictly ‘secular’. Secular in the sense that it is not associated with any religious beliefs and while Ningol Chakkouba may be seen as primarily being Meitei centric, exemplified by the fact that the day is mostly observed or celebrated in the districts dominated by the Meitei community, it is a matter of joy to see Churches and philanthropic organisations inviting tribal girls/women who have married into Meitei families for Ningol Chakkouba. The Manipur Baptist Convention has been inviting tribal women to a Ningol Chakkouba feast every year complete with gifts and this year the Tangkhul Baptist Church, Imphal too had invited a number of Tangkhul women who had married into other communities, particularly Meitei community for lunch on Ningol Chakkouba. There is something intrinsically beautiful in that the festival has cut across community divide and why not ? Let this spirit continue and for once let politics and all that it denotes take a back seat and let the essence and beauty of Ningol Chakkouba spread to every single community settled in Manipur. This is how festivals should be celebrated. It is also significant to note that locally reared Sareng, the favourite amongst many, made its debut in the Fish Mela held every year on the eve of Ningol Chakkouba this time though one wished that the pricing was a little more competitive. At Rs 1200 per Kg the price was obviously way too high for the average family and while this did not stop the people form thronging the Sareng stalls during the Fish Mela, it still did leave many to proclaim that they would rather go for the Sareng brought from outside the State, packed in ice boxes. Maybe once the production of Sareng stabilises in the coming years, the Government may look at making the price more competitive. As is done every year, days before Ningol Chakkouba a number of civil society organisations came to the fore checking the price list of goods sold in the market and to check artificial price hike-to line the pockets of the trading community. A welcome move this obviously was and perhaps from here the Government may take off to check whether the prices of goods are hiked arbitrarily at the fancy and whims of some unscrupulous traders at other times and not only during or in the run up to an important festival.
Perhaps the Government may get its act together and see how prices of goods are fixed in the run up to the next major festival, which is Christmas on December 25. This is the time when many from the hills come down to Imphal to buy goods and clothes for their children and other family members. Unfortunate it is but it is not very often heard of prominent CSOs stepping out to check the prices of not only essential items but also others such as clothings, particularly the warm clothings. No doubt, Imphal is the capital and as capitals go, it is bound to attract many shoppers and this is the time to make it shopper friendly particularly for those who come down all the way from the hills. A suggestion which should be taken with the seriousness it deserves. It was also with a reason why calls were issued by concerned CSOs not to reduce Ningol Chakkouba to some sort of a competition to see who gives or receives the most expensive gift. No doubt, the day may go beyond just sharing a meal with brothers and parents, but in the process it should not be reduced to an exercise of flexing one’s financial clout demonstrated via expensive gifts. Let Ningol Chakkouba be a day of reliving the days when brothers and sisters lived together under one roof with their parents. This should make it more meaningful. And it was good that this year there were no two days on which Ningol Chakkouba fell.