CM preaches unity, resents land tussle at harmony event

IMPHAL, 13th Oct: Hills and valley inhabitants of the state united in celebrating the historically significant festival of Mera Houchongba marking the millennium old blood relationship among the indigenous communities of the state at Sana Konung (Royal Palace) and Kangla here on Sunday.
State Level Organising Committee on Mera Houchongba with full support from the state government organised the celebration, which began with a procession from Sana Konung to Kangla. Adorned in their respective traditional attires; people belonging to different communities, both from hills and valley, participated in the procession which was led by titular king of Manipur Leisemba Sanajaoba. The main celebration was preceded by rituals like Kangla Men Tongba and Yenkhong Tamba after the procession culminated in front of Kangla Utra Shanglen. As in past years, performing age-old rituals, exchange of gifts and presentation of colourful cultural items of different communities were main highlights of Mera Houchongba celebration this year as well.
Attending the event as chief guest, chief minister N Biren said that the land in the state belongs to the state government and every state in the country belongs to the Government of India. Clashes over the land and jurisdiction should not be encouraged but all should work towards bringing peace, tranquility, unity and loving relationship among the communities. The history and civilisation of Manipur was forged through the relationship of brotherhood, contributions and unity of the indigenous communities and their people. Even if there were episodes of misunderstanding and disagreement, such issues should be settled through peaceful dialogues, the CM stressed.
Biren went on to say that the ancient stories of brotherhood and the civilisation of Manipur should be included in the syllabus of schools and colleges so that the younger generation may understand that people residing in the hill and valley share a common ancestry and have unbreakable blood relation.
Asserting that ancient chronicles and legends are the testimony of this fraternal bonding, the CM said that no one can frame or change the history. Mera Wayungba or Mera Thaomei Thaanba still narrates the age-old story about how the younger brother who went down to the valley signalled to his elder brother in the hill about his wellbeing, he said.
The government has been putting in sincere and committed efforts towards promoting the fraternal bonding and peaceful co-existence among different communities of the state ever since it was sworn in on March 15, 2017. Mera Houchongba was independently celebrated by different institutions and bodies including Lainingthgou Sanamahi Temple Board and Royal Palace earlier. As the day reminds us of the unbreakable bond of brotherhood among different communities, the state government decided to bring all these institutions together to jointly celebrate the festival at the state level in a grand manner from 2017, he said.
The CM also reminded that people both in the hill and the valley not only suffered together but also fought jointly every time Manipur faced external aggressions from Awa (Burma) and British. As such, all these instances and stories of unity and togetherness should never be forgotten and overlooked, he opined. Manipur was known as Sana Leibak for its prosperity in every aspect but the prosperity has long gone. However, it is his dream to bring back those prosperity. On the other hand, Manipur is one of the best places for international tourists to visit due to its climatic condition and otherwise peaceful atmosphere as well as hospitality of its people. However, due to lack of proper development, tourists leave the state after visiting only Loktak Lake and some waterfalls. As such, the government will allocate an additional annual budget of Rs 30 lakh to each of the 60 MLAs for development of one of the most potential tourist sites in their respective constituencies at the cost of Rs 50 lakh. The remaining Rs 20 lakh has to be utilised from the MLAs’ local area development fund, he said. Titular king Leisemba Sanajaoba, who presided over the function, said that Mera Houchongba festival reminds us of the unbreakable blood relationship and continuing celebration of the festival will make the younger generations to understand about the history and civilisation of Manipur and its people.
Conveying best wishes to all people in the state irrespective of their present settlement, he urged all communities to participate in future editions of the festival leaving aside their difference in religion and beliefs. He also called for united efforts to make the celebration more successful in the years to come and expressed happiness over bringing together different organisations in celebrating the festival as a single event and at a grander scale.
Art and culture minister L Jayantakumar, ministers, MLAs and chiefs of several tribal villages from hills and valley participated in the celebration.

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