Hun Festival Of The Thadou Tribe Of Manipur

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Posted in Featured, Manipur

-Kaybie Chongloi

Meaning of Hun

According to the Thadous, Hun, Etymologically signifies time and season. The ‘time’ here significantly encompasses something of the entire cosmology-from earth to heaven, death to life, and all the affairs of man and his spirituality. Hun is an archaic but formal form of time in the above sense of the language.

Hun, which is celebrated for seven days, is more than a cultural festival. It is a civilizing act of the Thadous.

Why is Hun Important For The Thadou Tribe?

Hun is the most important festival of all festivals of the Thadou people for the following reasons:

Firstly, it is the celebration of time, i.e. the arrival of New Year. Several rites and rituals relating to new things are performed during ‘Hun’. The germination and sprouting of seeds sown in the fields that bring forth new lease of life and hope are given utmost importance in the rituals. The dead of the seeds symbolizing the ‘old’ is also very significant.

Secondly, it is an annual religious affair for a family wherein the Thadous acknowledge the existence of an all-powerful God in whom they repose their complete faith. The head
of the family renew his faith and worship his God in the symbolical  ‘Doibom’. He does this on behalf of his entire family for their health, prosperity and well being throughout
the year. Another importance of Hun lies in the fact that the fate of the family is reckoned during this occasion. As to whether the family shall prosper, healthy or whether any misfortune will befall them are tested on this occasion.

Thirdly, it is the occasion when the chief and his Council of Ministers should satisfy themselves that peace prevails and there is no sickness in his chiefdom. All breach of  rules and customs, disputes, fights, quarrels and other cases should be settled when
Hun arrives.

Fourthly, the labours of women are acknowledged during Hun celebrations. All the growths of the seeds sown by women are ritually blessed by the priest for a bountiful
harvest. It is also the occasion when womenfolk showcase their expertise in brewing fermented rice beer for the entire villagers.

Fifthly, for children, Hun is the most awaited occasion in a year because it is during Hun that children show great love and respect to their maternal grandparents by offering them the best-fermented rice beer that their mothers prepared for the occasion. In return, they would receive blessings and gifts which they valued so dearly. It is Children’s Day of the Thadous.

Sixthly, the 7th day is significant for the fact that it is the day of the Annual Village Assembly. The Chief, his Council of Ministers and the entire villagers assemble in the chief’s residence. All matters concerning governance of the chiefdom including customs, policy, war and peace, works and developments, the welfare of the subjects are discussed and decided for the New Year. On this day the works and benevolence of the chief and his Council of Ministers are acknowledged. They are offered the best-fermented rice beer – VaiZu, by the women.

Seventhly, the existence of the Thadous and all living things and living beings; health of the Thadous and the well being of people and all creations; earthly affairs, i.e. governance in the chiefdom including the welfare of the subjects; and Parenthood in the form of duties and responsibilities of the chief and Thadou fathers and the mothers are immensely taken into ritualistic celebration during the seven-day celebration of Thadou Hun.

Hun is thus the custom, the culture, the religious affairs, and the greatest occasion for almost everything in the social, religious, and political life of the Thadou Tribe.

Hun Celebration 2021

As part of the annual celebration, the Thadou tribe in Manipur organized the Hun celebration 2021 in a more vibrant and meaningful manner at the district headquarters of Kangpokpi, 45 Km.away from the state capital.

Hun-the Thadou cultural festival was officially celebrated at the state level mega festival for the first time on April 7-9, 2016 at Ngahmun village in Kangpokpi District and later it
was celebrated on April 7, 2018, at Keithelmanbi Military Colony in Kangpokpi District with the Governor of Manipur, Dr Najma Heptulla as the Chief Guest.

The Thadou community submitted a memorandum to the Governor citing the importance of declaring April 7 as a Restricted Holiday in the state on the occasion of the Hun festival as a bestow to uplift, preserve and protect the rich cultural heritage of the Thadou community.

The Hun Celebration Committee invited the state Chief Minister N Biren Singh to grace the auspicious occasion but owing to unavoidable circumstances he could not make
it but sent his Tribal Affairs and Hills, Transport and GAD Minister Vungzagin Valte on his behalf along with his greetings.

The celebration was organized under the theme, “My Culture, My Identity” by the Hun Celebration Committee under the aegis of Thadou Inpi General Headquarters in two
sessions, viz. noon session and Hun night.

Display of a conglomeration of the rich Thadou cultural extravaganza was the main  attraction in the noon session while showcasing the glorious Mister and Miss Thadou, Hun band and various prominent artists live on stage was the main highlight of the
Hun night.

The well-decorated stage for the ramp walk with digital display and lights attracted the eyes of the dignitaries, VVIPs, etc. with a remark, ‘Hum Kisi Se Kam Nahi as all the guests during the night session imagined the stage with the world-class design of
beauty pageant contest.

The display and performance of Thadou cultural dance during the noon session by the representatives of the various cultural troupe from all the Thadou inhabited districts of the state truly signifies the importance of the festival while it clearly demonstrated
the time and season of sprouting of the seeds sowed and heralded the coming of the spring season.

Men and women, boys and girls, and children of the Thadou community were seen enjoying the celebration jovially in both sessions.

Remarks of Guests on Hun Celebration

The State Tribal Affairs and Hills, Transport and GAD Minister who graced the momentous occasion on behalf of the state Chief Minister said that festivals in Manipur may vary from one community to another community but these beautiful festivals can bind every society of the state with its strong message of unity in diversity.

The Minister then proposed for a cultural festival in a larger platform for every tribal community of Manipur where they can exchange their respective rich culture and
traditions. He said this can be an influential factor in bringing peaceful coexistence and harmony.

Former social welfare and cooperation minister Nemcha Kipgen, the lone woman legislature in the BJP-led coalition government in Manipur, attending the celebration as
the functional president said that Hun is a representation of the way of life of the Thadou community and this has remained an integral part of their cultural identity. It is a cultural and a traditional heritage that has been passed down by their forefathers
like the agricultural product and exhorted the Thadou tribe to sow and reap their success through hard work and dedication.

“As it is truly manifested in the theme, “My Culture, My Identity” I am also truly proud to call myself a true Thadou Chanu (daughter) as I keep my own Thadou identity and cultural values intact,” she said.

She added that the Thadou’s identities are guided and guarded by certain cultural values which are shown in the form of certain beliefs and practices, rituals and ceremonies, arts
and literature, traditions, customs, etc. of which societies are made.

“May these cultural values always remain our guiding force- the force that shapes us, that shape our identity, our society, that influences other cultures for peaceful coexistence, that bring mutual respect and understanding for the well-being of individuals and the welfare and overall development of our nation as a whole”, asserted Kipgen.

While lauding the good works of the Hun celebration committee, MLA Nemcha exhorted the people to join hands and make Hun a platform to sow the seeds of peace, love and unity.

Chief of Longja, M. Paokholun Haokip who attended as Hun-Pa (Father of Hun) and MLA P. Saratchandra who attended on behalf of former Education Minister of Manipur, Th. Radheshyam as Guest of Honour also spoke on the occasion.

Former Autonomous District Council Sadar Hills Chairman, Haokholal Hangshing who graced the Hun night as Chief Guest, said that Hun reminded him of his childhood
days as at the time of seeds sowing a bird called ‘Muchi Tun Tun’ echoed nostalgic humming echoed the entire hills giving a message to the people that the seeds sowing season has arrived.

“Hun will definitely serve as a platform to bridge the gap of the community and bring unity, peace and tranquillity in the society,” he said.

Col. Hem Chandra, Commandant, 38 Assam Rifles attending the auspicious Hun night said, “I consider myself as a part of this great Thadou family where I have been residing almost for a year. I feel fortunate to be part of this great festival.”

“It feels great to witness the rich and vibrant tradition of the Thadou community and it reminded me of the greatest Indian culture – the unity in diversity and the greatest essence of India, different colours moving together and living together like a big family,” he added.

Congratulating the people of the Thadou tribe on the auspicious festival, the Colonel also appreciated the organizing committee for the unique and standard display of the stage and said, “I feel as if I am attending a beauty pageant somewhere in Mumbai
or Hollywood.”

Similarly, James Doujapao Haokip, MCS, Chief Executive Officer, Sadar Hills Autonomous District Council Kangpokpi spoke on the uniqueness and standard maintained in putting
up such a brilliant show and reiterated “Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahi” and appreciated the people of the Thadou community for maintaining such high standards and uniqueness in all aspects of life.

Mister and Miss Thadou

The main highlight and attraction of the Hun night was the Mister and Miss Thadou 2021 competition.

Twenty four contestants were selected out of hundreds of applicants, respectively, for each of the coveted Mister and Miss Thadou titles. Many contestants could not make it beyond the preliminary round as it was as the competition was extremely tough.

For each of the two coveted titles, one in the noon session and another in the night session and a formal/evening gown round, the top 10 finalists were selected among the 24 contestants. Later, the top 5 finalists were selected among the top 10 contestants who wrote the answers for a common set of questions.

A total of five subtitle winners were selected before declaring the final winners of Mister and Miss Thadou 2021.

The five subtitle categories of the Mister Thadaou contest was Thangminlal Touthang (Best Physique), Solomon Mate (Mr Photogenic), Haominthang Haokip (Best Designer), Seiminlun Doungel (Mr Congeniality) and Lungoulen Haokip (Mr Active).

The five subtitle categories of the Miss Thadou contest were Vahhoichong Haokip (Best
Catwalk), Jennifer Haokip (Miss Photogenic), Kimngailhing Chongloi (Best Designer), Lamhoichong Lhouvum (Miss Congeniality) and Lamngaithem Haokip (Miss Active).

The subtitle winners were awarded a cash prize of Rs 5,000 each with a sash
and bouquet.

Finally, the much-awaited results of the Mister and Miss Thadou 2021 were announced.  25-year-old Haotinlal Misao from Kangpokpi Ward was declared Mister Thadou 2021 and
21-year-old Precilla Lhingngaiching Haokip from Moreh town was crowned Miss Thadou 2021. The Hun Organizing Committee Chairman Thangliensei Kipgen handed over the trophy, cash prize and certificate to Mister Thadou winner while Lhingnunnem Kipgen, former Miss Thadou 2018, crowned the coveted Miss Thadou tiara to the winner and
handed over the trophy, cash prize and certificate as well. Both the winners were awarded a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh each, a trophy, a certificate, sash and bouquet each. Mister Thadou 2021, Haotinlal Misao is the son of (L) Paojamang Misao and Hatchong
Misao of Kangpokpi town while Miss Thadou 2021, Precilla Lhingngaiching Haokip is a graduate and the daughter of Stephen Thongminlen Haokip and Hoineikim Haokip of Gamnom Veng Ward No.2 Moreh. Paotinkai Guite of Tujang Waichong was announced
as the 1st runner-up and Lunginlal Kipgen of Leimakhong was declared the 2nd runner up of Mr Thadou contest. Neihoiching Jessica Chongloi of Jangnoi village was crowned the 1st runner-up and Maria Chinchoihoi Haokip of Nazareth village, Sugnu Chandel was crowned 2nd runner-up of Miss Thadou contest. The first runner ups in both the categories received a cash prize of Rs 75,000 each along with a certificate and trophy while the second runner-ups in both the categories received a cash prize of Rs 50,000 each with a certificate and trophy.

The Jury Members

The jury members of Mister and Miss Thadou contest included Robert Naorem, international designer, an Indian fashion entrepreneur, designer and makeup artist from Manipur, Arambam Suchita, a legend of Manipur fashion industry, winner of Miss
Manipur 1993, Miss Northeast Perfect 10 and body beautiful 1995, Gladrags Mrs India 2nd runner 2004, Vahshi Kipgen, state-level Miss Kut 1999, Boipu Sitlhou, Retd. Colonel and PG. Singsit, IPS, SP Kangpokpi.

Hun Band and Artistes

The Hun Celebration Committee, after thorough and careful scrutiny, selected a music band from a remote village in the Lhungtin Sub Division of the Saikul area under Kangpokpi district.

The band called “Indoi Band” Jangnoi is an old music band that began its career in Jangnoia village located hundreds of kilometres away from the state
capital. Despite being located in a very remote area, a few youths of the village who were die-hard fans of Jon Bon Jovi started the band and named it “Indoi Band” some
25 years back.

Most of the founding members had already died while some had already dropped out of the band, only the drummer Satminlen Doungel still hit the drums and kept the band alive before the present vocalist Kaineo Chongloi fully revived it and became one of
the most sought after bands once again.

Among the other invited artists was legendary pop singer Micheal Luncha Kipgen, who rocked the stage with his evergreen numbers like “Lhangkichoi”, “Kum Thum Kum Li Kilungsetna sunga”, “Ipidinga Hepa neiti ham”, etc.

The Demand of Thadou People

Even though the state Chief Minister could not make it for the grand celebration, the  Thadou Inpi, the apex body of the Thadou tribe submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister through Tribal Affairs and Hills, Transport and General Administrative Department Minister, Vungzagin Valte demanding to declare April 7 as a restricted holiday.

Representing the people of Thadou tribes, the Thadou Inpi, in its memorandum sought positive redressal and intervention to officially declared April 7 (every year) as a Restricted Holiday of the state on the occasion of Hun Festival – ‘Sprouting of Seeds
Sowed’ also known as ‘Spring Festival’, the long-awaited dreams of Thadou, the largest tribe in the state.

(The article has been previously published in the April issue of Northeast Today)

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