The Manipur New Year Cheiroba


Cheiraoba festival in Manipur marks the new year in the month of April with much pomp and gaiety. The countdown begins after the various deities are worshipped on the occasion. Every household gets a fresh look before the commencement of the festival. The best place to visit during this celebration is Imphal which wears a festive look.
The most striking ritual is the hill climbing which pulls no less crowd in the hilly hamlets where the people climb the hilltops believing that they would be able to rise to greater heights in future. 
According to what the PangalsIt believe, on the first day of Sajibu (April) Sidaba Lainingthou, the cosmic universal god - Sanamahi keeps sitting on the alter of the house waiting for puja from his devotees. This is what the most sacred day of the year for the Manipuri devotees who offer different flowers, fruits and vegetables to Lainingthou Sanamahi of seven yeksalais (clans) of Kangleipak and pray for the welfare of the coming year and seek the grace of the Almighty.
Grand feast takes place every household with near and dear ones. During this month all seeds sown in the previous month (Lamda or  March) take natural shape.
Altogether nine species sprout and heads are spotted like the horns of saji(deer) as designed by the Almighty. That’s the secret of of the first day of Sajibu month where people can enjoy life with calm weather and bounteous harvest.

Apart from the religious significance, the Cheiraoba festival revives the rites and rituals of the Manipuri people.  The origin of the celebration is not clear. But the traditions and formalities suggest it an arrival of the new year to the Royal Palace. The message spreads to the subjects by the Leikai Lakpas who travels on horseback with a long stick with a bell. In Cheiraoba “Chei” means a stick and “Roaba” or “Laoba” stands for proclamation. A new system emerged during the reign of King Kyamba. Cheiraoba day, a new Cheithaba, who takes the blame of all  misfortunes, was made the custodian of the year. Household deities namely Iram Maba Tumaba, Iram Senba Tusenba and Kumsana Puriklai receive special food of rice and vegetables in front of the gates for keeping the impending misfortunes at bay.
The Manipuris further worship the goddess Emoinu at the fire place(Phunga-Lairu) in search of peace and prosperity.  
At the Phunga-Lairu, the fire place of the house, Goddess Emoinu is worshiped with similar offerings for the prosperity and well-being of the family. Sharing of food and sweets among the neighbours, friends and relatives boost the bonhomie and unity among the people of the entire north eastern state.