Now that the harvest is almost over in most Tangkhul villages, people are getting ready for Chumpha Phanit. Chumpha Phanit is an important post harvest and agricultural festival that the Tangkhul community celebrates. Apart from this, there are two other agriculture related festivals: Luita Phanit and Mangkhap Phanit.
This festival is one of the most significant festivals of Tangkhul community, especially for married women as it marks a change of hands and exchange of responsibility from mothers-in-law to their daughters-in-law.
In the olden days, one day prior to the festival, the menfolk of the village would take out their bows, spears, knives, axes, etc., and keep in the open courtyard and go away to the jungle in search of crabs. The menfolk would collect crab and soft reddish clay and spend the night in the jungle. They would then return only the next day with the crabs and clay. The womenfolk would then take the live crabs -which are carefully moulded with clay -and put inside the granary.
*Celebrating an ugly past is unbecoming of people who follow Jesus Christ – the prince of peace. It is just the opposite of charity for all and malice towards none. Naga-Kuki clash in the early nineties would be very unpleasant and obnoxious for any sensible person. The conflicts were blatant displays of satanic influence overpowering the Christian faith of both sides.*
*If I may quote Rev. Adeyeimo of Africa:* _*"The conflicts proved that our Christianity then was only one inch deep though a kilometer long. A lot of good and holy professings on the mouth but the hands were hell-bent for crimes."*_
“Kuki nationalist imagination” inextricably remains entrapped in the perception of the colonial tutelage. McCulloch’s policy of planting “Kuki settlements on exposed frontiers” still informs the idea of “Kuki nationalist consciousness”. Historical accounts perhaps reveal that the whole history of Kuki consciousness ischaracterised by the conspicuous absence of even a plausible “nationalist imagination”.
A colonial fault still haunts Manipur. The apparition of ethnic Kuki aggression re-looms large as the Kukis arouse in bizarre excitement targeting the Tangkhul Nagas on 13th September, 2018 with the erection of three dehumanising monoliths on the grounds of Kuki Inpi, Churachandpur, carrying a hate-propagandist inscription, “25th Anniversary of Kuki Genocide by Tangkhul-Led NSCN (IM)”.
My personal letter to Revd Dr Hawlngam Haokip, who administered 25th Black Day Observation at Churachandpur
I once had an opportunity to help carry your bag as a young boy of 15 when you visited a Maring area during your MBC tenure. I deeply respect you till today as an elder clergy. I am in the ministry now inspired by all of you and called by our Lord. As a youth, I have had many good and cherished memories with our Kuki brothers attending a school in Ideal Mission School Pallel in the 80s. I was educated because the owner of Ideal Mission School gave me scholarships for my whole schooling. His name is Hawlthang Mate. I remain indebted and grateful to him till today.
The Kukis, today, are observing the ‘Black Day‘ in remembrance of the victims killed during the ethnic clash starting from 1992 to 1997. The Kukis have been terming the ethnic clash as ‘Genocide‘. However, as Dr. Tuisem rightly points it out, terming the conflict as Genocide, where one community deliberately attempts to wipe out the other – is not the case with the Naga-Kuki conflict as both the Nagas and the Kukis suffered major casualties.
As per the UNC report, from 1992 till 1997, 207 Nagas were killed, 197 injured and 2582 Naga houses were burnt down in the Kuki-Naga conflict. Hence the Kukis terming it as Genocide, Holocaust or ethnic cleansing is wrong in many ways.
Once in an academic discussion in Jawaharlal Nehru University, a noted historian from the northeast stated that the Kukis and the Nagas are traditional enemy, this was resented by some young Naga scholars and make the historian to retract his statement. It is true that despite the history of the Naga-Kuki relationship was marked by mistrust and suspicion, the enmity between the Nagas and the Kukis are not older than the colonial period.
In the colonial writings, the first reference to the ‘Kuki’ was made in 1777 when this tribesmen attack the British subjects in Chittagong when Warren Hastings was the Governor General of Bengal. In Manipur Sir James Johnstone, the Political Agent of Manipur in 1877-1886 writes in his book Manipur and the Naga Hills that ‘Kukis’ were first heard in Manipur, between 1830 and 1840. The influx of Kukis in Manipur during the 19th century created a lot of ethnic tension and administrative problem for the state. The inter-ethnic relation between the Meitei-Naga and Kukis underwent change with the influx of Kukis in 19th century and the settlement of Kukis migrants in the hills of Manipur adjacent to the Naga villages. BC Allan in his celebrated book, Naga Hills and Manipur writes that “ by 1845 the British administration in Manipur faced problems when the Kukis began to come in great numbers and started to ‘drive away’ many of the older inhabitant.”
Kaka D. Iralu
In a recent interview by an Indian T.V. News Channel, I was asked the question: “Now with the NSCN IM- GOI talks having given up the issue of Naga integration under one political entity, will the Naga integration issue become just a dream for the future?” My immediate reply was: “Naga integration under one political entity is not a future dream but a living reality that has been going on for the past more than 2000 years.” Now, what I meant by what I said, are based on the following facts.