Manipur’s largest tribe, the Thadou celebrates its biggest cultural festival Hun

Celebration organized under the theme, “My Culture, My Identity”; Haotinlal Misao from Kangpokpi declared Mister Thadou 2021 and Precilla Lhingngaiching Haokip from Moreh crowned Miss Thadou 2021.

The Thadou tribe, the largest tribe in the state of Manipur celebrated its biggest cultural festival called Hun at Kangpokpi District Headquarters on April 7 momentously in the presence of the various elected Manipur Legislative Assembly members, bureaucrats, civil society organizations, etc.

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, 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. A numbers of 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 is 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 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 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 blessing 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 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, 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 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 during 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

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As part of the annual celebration, the Thadou tribe in Manipur organized the Hun celebration 2021 in a more vibrant and meaningful 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 Chief Guest.

The Thadou community submitted a memorandum to the Governor citing the importance of declaring April 7 as Restricted Holiday in the state on the occasion of Hun festival as a bestowed 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 theme, “My Culture, My Identity” by the Hun Celebration Committee under the aegis of Thadou Inpi General Headquarters in two session, viz. noon session and Hun night. Displayed 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 artistes live on stage was the main highlighted 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 remarked, ‘Hum kisise Kam nahi’ as all the guests during the night session imagined the stage with the world class design of beauty pageant contest.

The displayed and performance of Thadou cultural dance during the noon session by representatives of 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 jovially the celebration of Hun both in the noon session and night session while engaged in merrymaking throughout the day and night.

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 Manipur can bind all the society of the state with its strong message of unity in diversity.

The Minister then decided to proposed a cultural festival in a larger platform for all the tribals in the state of Manipur so as to exchange their respective rich culture and traditions which 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 who attended the Hun celebration as Functional President remarked that Hun is a representative of the way of life the Thadou community down the ages and remained an integral part of their cultural identity and it is a cultural and traditional heritage passed down by their forefathers’ like agricultural product and exhorted the Thadou tribe to sow and reap  their own success through hard work and dedication.

She maintained that 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.

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

“May these cultural values always remained our guiding force- the force that shape us, that shape our identity, our society, that influence other cultures for peaceful coexistence, that bring mutual respect and understanding for the well-being of an individuals and for 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 the 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 in place of PHED Minister Losii Dikho remarked that Hun reminded me of my childhood days as at this time of seeds sowing a bird called ‘Muchi Tun Tun’ nostalgic humming echoed the entire hills giving message to the people that the seeds sowing season has arrived.

He said that Hun – the cultural festival of the Thadou community will definitely serve as platform to bridge the gap of the community and bring unity, peace and tranquility in the society.

Col. Hem Chandra, Commandant, 38 Assam Rifles attending the auspicious Hun night remarked that I myself considered me as part of this great Thadou family where I have been residing almost a year and I feel very fortunate to be part of this great festival.

He continued that I feel great as well to witness the rich, vibrant and tradition of the Thadou community and it reminded me of the greatest Indian culture – the unity over diversity and the greatest essence of India, different colours moving together and living together like a big family.

Congratulating the people of Thadou tribe on the auspicious festival, the Colonel also appreciated the organizing committee for the unique and standard display of the stage stating that I feel myself somewhere in a beauty pageant shown in Mumbai or Hollywood.

Similarly, James Doujapao Haokip, MCS, Chief Executive Officer, Sadar Hills Autonomous District Council Kangpokpi remarked on the uniqueness and standard maintained in putting up such brilliant stage remarked that, “Hum kisise Kum Nahi” and exhorted the people of the Thadou tribe a to maintained such standard and uniqueness in all aspects of life.

MISTER AND MISS THADOU

The main highlighted and attraction of the Hun night was showcasing the glorious Mister and Miss Thadou 2021.

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Twenty four contestants each participated in the competition out of hundreds applicants for the coveted Mister and Miss Thadou titles. Many candidates could not make it to the 24 finalists during the preliminary round as it was a toughly and competitively conducted.

After two traditional rounds, one in the noon session and another one in the night session and a formal/evening gown round, top 10 finalists were selected among the 24 contestants. Later, top 5 finalists were selected among the top 10 finalists who go through a common question where they answer it in written.

Five sub titles winners each were selected from Mister and Miss Thadou contest respectively before declaring the winner of Mister and Miss Thadou 2021.

The five sub titles were of Mister Thadou contest were Thangminlal Touthang (Best Physique), Solomon Mate (Mr. Photogenic), Haominthang Haokip (Best Designer), Seiminlun Doungel (Mr. Congeniality) and Lungoulen Haokip (Mr. Active).

The five sub titles winners in 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 sub title winners were awarded with cash prize of Rs. 5,000/- each with a sash and bouquet.

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Finally, the much awaited results for the coveted Mister and Miss Thadou 2021 was announced and 25 years old handsome hunk Haotinlal Misao from Kangpokpi Ward No.5/6 was declared Mister Thadou 2021  and 21 years old beauty with brain, Precilla Lhingngaiching Haokip from Moreh border town was crowned Miss Thadou 2021.

The Hun Organizing Committee Chairman, Thangliensei Kipgen handover the trophy, cash prize and certificate to the winner of Mr Thadou while Lhingnunnem Kipgen, former Miss Thadou 2018 crowned the coveted Miss Thadou tiara to the winner and handover the trophy, cash prize and certificate as well.

Both the winners were awarded with cash prize of Rs. 1 lakhs 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 graduate and beautiful daughter of Stephen Thongminlen Haokip and Hoineikim Haokip of Gamnom Veng Ward No.2 Moreh.

Paotinkai Guite of Tujang Waichong was announced 1st runner up and Lunginlal Kipgen of Leimakhong was announced 2nd runner up of Mr Thadou contest while Neihoiching Jessica Chongloi of Jangnoi village was crowned 1st runner up and Maria Chinchoihoi Haokip of Nazareth village, Sugnu Chandel was crowned 2nd runner up of Miss Thadou contest.

The first runner up in both category received cash prize of Rs. 75,000/- each along with certificate and trophy while the second runner up in both category received cash prize of Rs. 50,000/- each with certificate and trophy.

THE JURY MEMBERS

The jury members of Mister and Miss Thadou contest includes 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 Lhungtin Sub Division of Saikul area under Kangpokpi district.

The band called “Indoi Band” Jangnoi is an aged Music Band which begin its career in the village called Jangnoi, located hundreds kilometres away from the state capital. Despite of being located in a very remote area, few youth of the village who were die hard fans of Jon Bon Jovi started the band and named it “Indoi Band” since the past 20/25 years back.

Most of the founding members had already died while some had already dropped the band, only the drummer Satminlen Doungel still hit the drum and make alive the band before the current vocalist Kaineo Chongloi fully revived it and once again become one of the most sought after Music band in the district.

Among many other invited artistes, legendary pop singer Micheal Luncha Kipgen rocked the stage with his evergreen numbers such as, “Lhangkichoi”, “Kum Thum Kum Li Kilungsetna sunga”, “Ipidinga Hepa neiti ham”, etc.

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 restricted holiday.

Representing the people of Thadou tribes, the Thadou Inpi seek in its memorandum seek the positive redreassal 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 the Thadou, the largest tribe in the state.

Kaybie Chongloi

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