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UKHRUL | May 14 : In honour of Shimreishang Zimikwo (Ashang) and Maitongphi Longlengnao (Aton), the people of Phungcham have installed a sculpture and mini museum of the legendary lovers at Longkhan, the meeting place of Ashang and Aton.
As a tribute to their love, a love that is beautiful, yet so tragic, Shimreishang and Maitonphi Park at Longkhan was dedicated to tourists and visitors on May 11, which is an initiative of Yangreiram Beautification Society to revive the rich legacy of Phungcham.
A real love story based on the love life of the head of Zimik clan, Shimreishang and the beautiful Maitonphi from Longleng clan of Phungcham, was first published in 1974, written by former chairman of Board of Secondary Education Manipur (BOSEM), P. R. Yangkahao when he was serving as principal of Pettigrew College, Ukhrul. The book was sold at Rs.3 per copy. The play of their story was first published in 1977 and sold at Rs. 4.50. A film was also made based on the play by Tangkhul and other communities. Their love story has been compared to ‘Romeo and Juliet’. While Romeo and Juliet is a fiction, the story of Ashang and Aton is real and the existing places like hunting places and paddy field where the lovers used to meet are the evidence.
Shimreishang and Maitonphi were forbidden to marry owing to their different social status. Shimreishang belonged to a royal family whereas Maitonphi was from an ordinary family. Due to difference in social status, Maitonphi was secretly married off to Pansa of Halang village in haste. They continued to meet even after Maitonphi’s marriage.
Maitonphi died from illness, which broke Shimreishang’s heart. He pined for his early death so that he can be with Maitonphi at ‘Kazeiram’ (hades). He died soon after. To assuage their sorrow, the families of the two lovers hired a shaman to perform rituals for their lives at hades. They were told by the shaman that they were married and happily living in the land of hades.
To this day, their love story is told again and again and it has inspired many writers and musicians. Their love story is incorporated in school syllabus and depicted in films and songs.
Phungcham is considered as one of the oldest Tangkhul villages. It is believed that those who migrated from Makhel settled at the place and slowly dispersed from there. Situated at the north of Ukhrul district, Phungcham is 28 km away from the district headquarter. The rendezvous point of Ashang and Aton located at Longkhan is just 1.5 km away from the main village.~IFP