Imphal: Mera Houchongba, the festival which exemplifies oneness and brotherhood among people of different ethnic communities of Manipur was celebrated with pomp, gaiety and traditional fervour at Lainingthou Sanamahi Temple complex, Haying Khongban Wednesday with Chief Minister N. Biren Singh as the chief guest and MP Maharaja Sanajaoba Leishemba as the functional president.
The celebration was jointly organised by Lainingthou Sanamahi Temple Board and Uttra Shanglen Sana Konung (Royal Palace).
Conduct of important age-old rituals, Pot Lannaba (exchange of gifts) and the presentation of colourful cultural items of different communities were the main highlights of the celebration. Other important rituals like Mera Men Tongba and Yenkhong Tamba were also performed at Sana Konung (Royal Palace) in the morning.
N Biren Singh exchanged gifts with RV Mingthing while Sunil Despande exchanged gifts with former president of Tangkhul Naga Long Hopingson Shimray. Maharaja Sanajaoba Leishemba also exchanged gifts with Ningthoupham Village chief BK John Thangal.
Speaking at the occasion, N Biren Singh pointed out that it is now time to discard the sense of disintegration and work together for a united Manipur and India. He said that different organisations and institutions used to celebrate the festival independently at different locations earlier. However, the present State Government convinced them to come together to organize it as a state-level celebration in a grand manner in 2017. Since then, the festival is celebrated as a state-level function, he added.
This year, celebrations had been toned down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it could not be called off considering its significance in building fraternal bonds among different communities, the Chief Minister added.
N Biren Singh said that unity between hill and valley people had strengthened in the past four and half years with the coming of the new Government. It was testified on many occasions when people of hill districts brought vegetables grown in their villages for valley people when the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic was imposed last year, the Chief Minister observed. It showed hill people’s affection for their brothers in the valley, he added.
State Planning Board deputy chairman L. Rameshwor Meetei, former Minister RV Mingthing, All India PRO of RSS Sunil Despande, Assam Zone Pracharak Pramukh Ashokan Kusaliyat also attended the celebration as dignitaries, among others.