The Whole Nation has been celeberating Diwali which Starts with Dhanteras and Culminates with Bhai Dooj- A Festival where Sisters apply Tikaa on their Brother’s forehead. Brothers visit Married Sisters laden with gifts and sisters apply tikaa on their Brother’s forehead. Hidden away amongst Diwali festivities is a beautiful Manipuri Festival called Ningol Chakouba /Chakkouba.
Ningol Chakkouba occur once in a calender year, “Ningol” meaning “sister” and “Chakkauba” meaning “invited luncheon” every year. This is probably the most popular social festival amongst the Meitei community of Manipur. The social festival is widely celebrated in the state even by the other fraternal communities in honor of the married women of the family. It is considered as a day where married women are invited to their parental homes by their fathers and brothers for grand feasts, accompanied by lavish gifts.
This Year Ningol Chakkouba Falls today i.e 21st Oct-the same day as Bhai Dooj. -where again the daughters of the family are pampered with lavish gifts. We have such beautiful festivals that venerate women and yet somehow India is portrayed as a society ill treating women. Maybe the so called Libbes should learn from the glow of happiness on the faces and realise the happiness being a sister/Daughter brings.
Nongda Lairen Pakhangba the First king to have ruled Manipur in 33 AD. His sister Laisna, Queen of Pakhangba went to see the harvesting activity of her brother. He gave her two types of Rice (black and white) along with Bananas. She later invited her brother to her place. Birth to a new custom came into being.Under Maharaja Chandrakriti Singh who ruled from 1850 to 1886 the tradition of brother visiting sisters was changed. He requested married sisters and daughters to visit their home. A formal invitation Pana is sent in advance. The tradition continues till date and has got strong with every passing year.
This year’s Ningol Chakouba falls on Saturday, the 21st of October and Imphal’s commercial areas – Paona Bazar, Thangal Bazar and the historic women’s market in between are flooded with shoppers buying gifts for their daughters and sisters.
Like every year, the onset of the festival is marked with long shopping lists for eatables and gifts mostly consisting of handloom items. The main Khwairamband Market in the heart of Imphal is filled with shoppers while vendors in and around the historic Nupi Keithel are having grueling time to meet the booming demand of the customers. Ningol Chakouba celebrates the unbreakable bond between sisters and brothers which is a fascinating aspect of this custom. Manipuris feel profound joy as the festival approaches -Fathers and brothers flood markets here buy gifts for daughters and sisters.
Ningol Chakouba primarily celebrates and strengthens family bonds, particularly between the married women and their parental homes. It is actually a day of pride for the women and probably the only day in a year when womanhood is celebrated with much pomp and show in Manipur.
The day is declared as a state holiday. All shops and business establishment including Bazars, hotels, entertainment houses close voluntarily to enjoy Ningol Chakkouba which is one of the biggest indigenous festival of Manipur.
As the clock strikes 11 am all the married sisters are seen going to their brothers’ houses wearing traditional dress and ornaments and carrying fruits and several eatables for their brothers.
So let us all cherish this beautiful festival which celebrates bonds between Sisters and brothers.