|AREA IN Sq.km||22,000|
Manipur is situated in the northeastern region of the country. As one might say without hesitation, the land is a paradise come true on earth. Literally meaning “ the jeweled land”, Manipur is richly endowed with natural beauty and splendour. Home to Sangai, a rare species of deer and Siroy Lily, the only terrestrial lily grown on the hill tops of Siroi hill, St. Clair Grimwood described it as " A Pretty Place more beautiful than many show places of the world." Late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru paid a fitting tribute by describing it as "Jewel of India".
Manipur is bounded by Nagaland in the
north, Mizoram in the south, Upper Myanmar in the east and Cachar district of
Assam in the west.
Manipur is comprised of 9 districts: Bishnupur, Chandel, Churachandpur, Imphal East, Imphal West, Senapati, Tamenglong, Thoubal and Ukhrul
Formerly a kingdom whose oral histories, mainly the royal chronicle, the Cheitharol Kumbaba, indicate its establishment in the 1st century AD, it was formed by the unification of ten clans under the Ningthouja clan. It has been historically the site of trade routes between India and Myanmar. Manipur became a part of the British Empire in 1891 and was the arena of the last land battle between the Japanese and the Allied forces during World War 2. Even though Manipur had never been part of any of the great Indian empires, upon the departure of the British, Manipur became a part of India in 1949. Manipur achieved full statehood on January 21, 1972, with a Legislative Assembly of 60 seats of which 19 are reserved for Scheduled Caste. The State is represented in the Lok Sabha and 1 for Scheduled Caste. The State is represented in the Lok Sabha by two members and by one member in the Rajya Sabha.
Society and culture
Manipuri society is characterized by its
simplicity and egalitarian values. The people are warm and cooperative. Women
enjoy high status in the society. Old people are given due respect and
reverence. Economic level of the people is more or less uniform. Manipuris love
games and sports and have given the world the game of Polo.
Even though Manipuris are Hindu, the Indian caste system is not the basis of social stratification. Instead, society is divided between the Meiteis, the Bamons (Brahmins of Indian origin), Pangans (Muslims, also of Indian origin) and lois (social outcasts, some of whom are descended from prisoners of war from Burma and India). Manipuris rarely intermarry, and even today, do not marry within the salai, as the original ten clans are known. Society is organized around neighborhoods, called leikais. All activities, from ear-piercing ceremonies, to festivals and cremations center around the leikai. The approval of the leikai is the highest the community-minded Manipuri can seek.
In the field of art and culture, Manipur is best represented by the classical Manipuri style of dance. A style peculiar to itself, its inspiration is purely religious, and the dance usually relates to the Raas Lila, the love story of Radha and Krishna. Lai Haroba (feast of dances, representing celebrations of Gods / Goddesses), Pung Cholem (Mridanga dance), Mao Naga dance, the Priestess dance of Malbe Jagoi, Thangal Surung dance etc. reflect the vibrant culture of the 29 different tribes of Manipur. Witnessing the exquisite Manipuri dance - drama, in its original colourful settings, is simply an unforgettable experience.
The rich culture and tradition of the Manipuris are also depicted in their handloom clothes and handicrafts. The Manipuri handloom and handicraft are world famous for its craftsmanship as well as ingenuity, colourful, colourfulness and usefulness.
The people are artistic and creative in their thinking and outlook. Every house possesses a loom, and Manipuris weave with a passion and style, unrivalled by any other state. Manipuri bed covers of Moirangfee and flower designs, silk and cotton sarees, scarves, blankets and shawls, in distinctive shades and weaves, make for an enchanting collection. A wide range of artistic handicrafts from bamboo, papier mache, decorative ivory, dolls and jewellery make for prized souvenirs. These exquisite handlooms and handicrafts are sold at Khwairamband market, the largest exclusive women's market in the country, which is a must on every visitor's itinerary.
Manipur is a land of festivals. Number of festivals is celebrated throughout the year with pomp and gaiety. Important ones are Ningol Chakouba and Yaoshang. Ningol Cackouba, a festival of the Meiteis is the celebration of family union. On this day, married women along with their children go to their parental house to be treated to a grand feast. Their parents and brothers give them gifts and the guests in return offer them blessings. It is observed on the second day of the new moon in the Manipuri month of Hiyangei (November).
Celebrated for five days commencing from the full moon day of Phalguna (february/March), Yaoshang is the premier festival of Manipur. The Thabal Chongba - a kind of Manipuri folk dance, where boys and girls hold hands and sing and dance in a circle, is particularly associated with this festival. Boys and girls and old women collect donations from house to house and the money so collected is spent in a number of parties and feast. Indeed, Yaosang to Manipur is what Durga Puja is to Bengal, Diwali in north India and Bihu to Assam.
Economy and infrastructure
Agriculture and allied activities is the
single largest source of livelihood, for a majority of the rural masses, and is
also the mainstay of the state economy. Industry in Manipur is not very well
developed. However, the state is now making rapid strides towards
industrialisation, with the setting up of many large and small-scale industrial
units. The main industries of Manipur are pharmaceuticals, steel re-rolling,
plywood, bamboo chipping, cement, vanaspati and electronics.
The state is well connected by airways and roads. Railway tracks are being laid for better transportation facilities.
The important tourist centres in the state are Imphal, the capital and centre of all cultural and commercial activities adorned with two War Cemeteries maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Govindajee Temple, Women Bazaar, etc. Besides, the Bishnu Temple at Bishnupur built in 1467 AD, the Loktak Lake, the biggest freshwater lake in the eastern India, Keibul Lamjao, the only floating national park in the world, the Orchid Park at khongampat, etc. are attractive places of tourist’s interest.