Ukhrul: In a heart-warming gesture, the Nagas of Manipur used a unique platform — Lui-Ngai-Ni, the annual seed-sowing festival of the community — to show their solidarity with the people of China, the epicentre of the deadly global coronavirus outbreak that has claimed over 1,500 lives so far.
Holding placards that said ‘Stay strong China, we are with you’, over 2,000 Nagas — who attended the two-day festival being held in Ukhrul — listened to popular musician Guru Rewben Mashangva as he belted out a song composed by him with lyrics by Ngachonmi Chamroy.
The song, sung in multiple languages like English, Tangkhul and Nagamese, said, “China, be strong, be strong Wuhan.”
Here’s the complete lyrics of the song:
“On the empty streets of Wuhan
Fear and despair roam
Wearing the face of Coronavirus today.
Heartache and pain
You have been through before.
Your extant culture to endure and overcome will see you through again.
We are with you ancient world.
China be strong
Be strong Wuhan.
(Ithum nala seiha samitalei. Ameekhan pi prathana kuriteyashe).
According to reports, an official video will soon be released and replace the Nagamese creole with Chinese language.
Lui-Ngai-Ni, the seed-sowing festival celebrated by the Naga tribes of Manipur, heralds the season of seed sowing and marks the start of the year for the Nagas. The festival was declared a state holiday since 1988.
The word ‘Lui-Ngai-Ni’ is coined from three different Naga languages. ‘Lui’ comes from ‘Luiraphanit’, a Tangkhul word for seed sowing festival; ‘Ngai’ means festival in Rongmei language and ‘Ni’ is a Mao word for the seed sowing festival.
The festival is celebrated annually on February 14-15 at the start of the spring season.
The state-level festival is organised by United Naga Council in collaboration with Tangkhul Naga Long, an apex Tangkhul community. This year, the festival also saw participation from various civil societies and organisations of Manipur including UCM, AMUCO, DESAM, Kuki Inpui and Thadou Inpui, among others. Their participation highlights the acceptance of each other and appreciate the rich culture and traditions.
UNC president S Kho John says the festival aims to promote the dying culture of the Nagas, especially among the youngsters. “It will imbibe a sense of belongingness and oneness among each other with such platform,” he said, adding: “Positive response from communities in the state speaks the willingness of acceptance and kept aside for opinion differences for peaceful coexistence.”
John appealed the Naga brethren to do the same and show positive response to the festivals of other communities.
During the festival, five cultural troupes from five districts inhabited by Nagas in Manipur showcased the richness of their culture and heritage. Indigenous games like bamboo pole game, wrestling, tug of war highlight how their ancestors relished their leisure times.