Yubi Lakpi : Rugby’s Cousin From Manipur


  • Priyanka Sarkar

Northeast India has a rich tradition of indigenous sports, showcasing the notable threads prevailing amid a community, that is carried on from generations. Such ancient traditional games play a significant role in promoting the cultural diversity and historical practices of the regions.

Although several traditional sports have been identified as a key part of respective areas, some also include certain similarities with globally recognized games. One such sport is ‘Yubi Lakpi’, a traditional game from Manipur related to ‘Rugby’, the official game of England.

But interestingly one doesn’t use a rugby ball, rather a coconut as the key component. In Meetei origin, the game is officially termed as ‘coconut snatching’.

A traditional game referred to as an amalgamation of football and rugby, ‘Yubi Lakpi’ traces its tale from the ancient era, with episodes narrated in religious text such as – Bhagavata Purana, the Mahabharata, Vishnu Purana.

According to sources, it was started as a ceremonial re-enactment of the celestial snatching of nectar pot after Samundra Manthan, one of the best-known episodes in the Hindu mythology that elaborates the origin of Amrita (the drink of male deities, which grants them immortality). The attaining of Amrita is believed to be the major cause of conflict between Devas and Asuras, regarding immortality.

In Yubi Lakpi, players line up on each side of the field, comprising of a referee for judging the match.

Before its commencement, the referee goes for a toss and interestingly instead of a coin, a coconut is tossed to decide ‘who’s going first.

As the name implies, the players carry the coconut to score goals whereas the opposing team continually tries to snatch away the fruit.

The player has to approach the goal from the front and pass the goal line to score the mark.

However, there are certain rules that a player must keep in mind – one of these deals with the coconut which can’t be held against their chest but under their arm.

Ultimately, the player who scores maximum goals gets the award.

It is an individual game, whose fouls and rules need to be clear to the players.

The players are not allowed to kick or even punch their opponents, plus they cannot tackle the players who do not have the coconut. The entire authority of fouls lies with the umpire or the referee.