Also known as Sajibu Nongma Panba, Cheiraoba Festival is celebrated as the lunar new year of the Meitei people who reside in Manipur and follow the Sanamahism religion. The same is celebrated by different names at different places like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, along with other Indian states.
Sajibu Nongma Panba is derived from locally used Manipuri words namely Sajibu which is the first month of the year and falls in the April month as per the Meitei lunar calendar, and Nongma meaning the very first day of the month. The third word Panba means, to be. During the onset of this festival, a festive mood envelopes the whole region.
According to an interesting saying, if a person is happy on this day, they will remain in the same mood throughout the year and if one is sad, something or the other will keep them miffed for the coming 365 days. Thus, people consciously choose to remain happy during this festival. Cheiraoba Festival 2023 will be observed on April 13th.
History of Cheiraoba Festival
According to historical texts, it was during the time of King Maliya Fambalcha (1359 BC - 1329 BC) that this Festival came into being. The king was also known by the name of Koi Koi. It is believed that he ascended the throne at the young age of 25 and was a very kind and just ruler.
Major Attractions of Cheiraoba Festival
1. Preparations of Cheiraoba Festival
The festival is considered to be one of the most sacred festivals of Manipur which people celebrate with great zest and spirit. The day of the festival begins with cleaning the household and indulging in ceremonial rituals.
2. Celebrations of Cheiraoba Festival
Dance and music form an integral part of this festival. You will be awestruck by the phenomenal performances of the local participants. Apart from the dance and music performances, the locals also climb the hilltop, signifying the rise of human beings for a better future. During the evenings, the relatives also visit each other with gifts on this occasion.
3. The Cuisine
On this day, people arrange a joint family feast preparing scrumptious traditional dishes. One such dish is the Athenpot which the women of the household prepare using ingredients like rice, flowers, fruits which are then offered to the Lainingthou Sanamahi along with Leimarel Shidabi. These are the local deities worshipped in each and every household.
The elders also offer some part of the devotionally cooked food to Iram Maba Tumaba, Iram Senba Tusenba along with Kumsana Puriklai for the protection of their families in spirit. These are three deities that are generally worshipped in every local house.
After these rituals are performed people share the prepared food with their relatives as per a custom known as Mathel Laanba.
4. Hilltop Climbing
After finishing the meals, people start climbing the hilltops. The climbing of the hill is related to the upliftment of the spirits in the local culture. It is believed that by doing so, the people will make themselves available to a higher and better form of worldly life. This ritual is generally performed either in the afternoon or in the morning hours.
How to Reach
To reach Imphal, you will need to cover a total distance of about 2,388, 3,215, 1,489, and 3,459 km from other prominent Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru respectively. Check out the travel deets on how to reach here.
You will need to deboard at the Imphal Airport aka Bir Tikendrajit International Airport which is situated about 8 km from Imphal. This airport is well-routed with other Indian cities via many prominent air-carriers operating to and fro directly or either by connecting flights. Once you deboard at the airport, consider booking a cab or some other locally available means of transport to reach your destination.
From Patna - Board IndiGo, Air India flights from Patna Airport. The airfares start from INR 6,000-7,000
From Bhubaneswar - Board IndiGo, Air India flights from Bhubaneswar Airport. The airfares start from INR 9,000-10,000
Here is a list of Indian cities from where flights are available to Imphal
The nearest station is the Dimapur Railway Station situated about 200-220 km away. The station is well connected with nearby districts and towns offering a good train service at a fairly well-maintained frequency. From the station, book a cab to reach your destination.
Imphal also has good road connectivity with nearby cities and towns. Depending upon your convenience and location, you can easily board a state-run or a private bus to reach here. Otherwise, you can also consider booking a cab or if you prefer, take your own vehicle here.