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 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 2020 will be observed on April 14.
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 a young age of 25 and was a very kind and just ruler.
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 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 by 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.
The festival is a grand one in the state of Manipur. People can easily reach the state via various transport options available to Imphal, its capital city. The airport is about 8 km from the city and the nearest railway station is Kohima which is further connected to other cities of India.
13 April 2021 - 14 April 2021
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