Imphal: Manipur on Wednesday celebrated the “centuries-old” festival of Mera Houchongba that is a reminder of the inextricable and strong bond between the people of the hills and the valley.

Organised annually on the full moon day of Mera month of Meitei lunar calendar and celebrated equally by every indigenous ethnic group, including the Meitei people, the festival of Mera Houchongba was marked by rituals, cultural performances and exchange of gifts.

Recognising the significance of the day, the event was turned into a state-level celebration in 2017 by the organising committee chaired by Manipur CM N. Biren Singh

CM N Biren Singh at the Mera Houchongba festival

This year the main function was held at Lainingthou Sanmahi Temple located near 1st Manipur Rifle Ground.

Chief Minister Singh, who also attended the function, said, “It’s high time we left the differences behind and live together again in oneness, with the idea of one Bharat, One Manipur.”

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Singh said some people with vested interest have tried from time to time to divide and separate the people of Manipur. “But such efforts will not last. And now, the bonding and oneness have been restored again slowly. No force can erase or destroy this bond.”

The festival was also attended by Rajya Sabha MP Maharaja Leisemba Sanajaoba, vice president of Lainingthou Sanamahi Temple Board MLA L Rameshore, former minister RV Mingthing, All India PRO of RSS Sunil Despande, Assam Zone (RSS) Pracharak Pramukh Ashokan Kusaliyat, among others.

The important age-old ritual of Pot Lannaba (exchange of gifts) and the presentation of colourful cultural items by different communities were the main highlights of the celebration. Other important rituals like Mera Men Tongba and Yenkhong Tamba were also performed at Sana Konung (Royal Palace) in the morning. 

The day of ‘Mera Houchongba’ was declared a state holiday by O.N. Shrivastav, the then Governor of Manipur in 2016. The festival was performed separately by Uttra Sanglen, Sanamahi Temple Board, and other organizations till 2016. 

In 2017, Chief Minister N Biren Singh proposed to all the organizations to observe the festival at Kangla. Consequently, a state-level Mera Houchongba Celebration Committee was constituted in 2017. Since then, the festival is celebrated in a grand manner every year.

On this day, all the hill tribes came down to the valley of Imphal, and gather at the Royal Palace. The day ends with a grand feast, organised together with the Meitei people and the tribes from the hill districts.

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