Ukhrul: Residents of Hungpung village, nestled in Manipur’s picturesque Ukhrul district, celebrated their annual Luira Phanit festival with great fervour on Saturday.
The four-day-long festival is a time-honoured tradition that heralds the start of the agricultural season and seeks blessings from the gods for a fruitful harvest.
As one of the oldest and most prominent villages in the Tangkhul community, Hungpung marked the occasion with elaborate rituals and activities, steeped in the rich cultural heritage of their ancestors.
The Luithui Khami/Takhare rites, performed by the village chief and his wife (queen) on March 1, was the highlight of the festivities. These rites are considered a vital aspect of the colourful seed-sowing festival.
Notably, the Luira Phanit festival also embraces the spirit of kinship and community. Married daughters and sisters were invited by their parents and relatives for feasts and presented with ‘yorla sa’ – a bunch of meat – as a token of affection as they left for their respective homes.
The Luira Phanit festival in Hungpung village has attracted attention from political figures, including Ukhrul MLA Ram Muivah, who praised the community for producing one of its first students to study in the United States.
As the second day of the festival unfolded, Muivah spoke about the importance of Luira Phanit as a symbol of the new year for the Tangkhul community. He highlighted several of the festival’s essential features, including the folk song competition, tug of war, and traditional wrestling.
Moreover, MLA Muivah used the occasion to urge the revival of the Chumpha Phanit festival, which is a post-harvest celebration and one of the most significant events in the community.
As the Luira Phanit festival in Hungpung village continued to unfold, Ukhrul MLA Ram Muivah shared insights into some of the festival’s essential traditions. For example, he explained that before restocking newly harvested paddies in the traditional granary, women from the village must clean up the space.
On this day, men are not supposed to remain at home but instead go fishing or hunting. It is forbidden to restock the newly harvested paddy before cleaning up the granary.
MLA Muivah also called for the revival of the Chumpha Phanit festival, which is significant in the community and involves various customs and practices.
One of the highlights of the Luira Phanit festival was the Laa Khanganui (folk song) competition, in which young maidens and unmarried girls participate, donning traditional attires and ornaments such as Kongsang (traditional neckpiece), khommasing, and kazao zaorei.
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Participants and spectators alike, young and old, adorned themselves in colourful traditional attire and gathered at the Hungpung Kazipphung High School Ground to witness the festivities.
The annual festival will conclude on March 6, 2023.
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