Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Indigenous games

The indigenous games of Manipur can be classified as Outdoor and Indoor.


  1. Mukna
  2. Mukna Kangjei (Khong Kangjei)
  3. Sagol Kangjei (Polo)
  4. Yubi lakpi (Coconut Rugby)
  5. Oo-Laobi
  6. Hiyang-Tannaba
  7. Arambai Hunba

Mukna (Manipuri wrestling)

Mukna is a popular sport in Manipur
Mukna is a popular form of wrestling. It has fundamental rules agreed by all Mukna organizations and with Royal Consent. Traditionally the game is controlled and organised by Pana Loisang of the Ruler of the state and village organizations. There are four, Panas-Ahallup, Naharup, Khabam and Laipham, who control all fixtures and times for the games and the State Meet in which the Final is invariably graced by the ruler, who presents the title of Jatra (Champion) for the year along with reward of Thum Nama (A full bag of salt) and Ngabong Phi (hand made cloth of cotton yarn), exemption of all state duties and Ningham Samjin dress (traditional). The game has two categories (1)Takhatnabi (League), (2) Naitom (Knockout). The young talents work and play all the year round with dedication for the title of 'Jatra' (Champion) of Mukna of Manipur.

Mukna Kangjei (Khong Kangjei)

Mukna Kangjei is a game which combines the arts of mukna (wrestling) and Kangjei (Cane Stick) to play the ball made of seasoned bamboo roots. The origin of the game goes back well to Aniconic worship. People celebrate Lai Haraoba (festival to please traditional deities) and include this item to mark the end of the festival. It was believed that Khagemba Ningthou (King, 1597–1652) patronised this game. In later generations, the game is organised in the villages. Presently, associations are formed in Panas with rules and regulations of Mukna Kangjei. The game is played by two teams of seven players each. All players hold a natural cane stick with root, gradually increasing the size of the root, to the length of about seven inches to play the ball made out of seasoned bamboo roots of approximately a diameter of four inches (102 mm). The players put on Mukna Kisi Phijet (dress of cloth knot) to secure protection and holding each other. At present a short pant is added below Kisi (like cloth belt with knots). The game starts by throwing the ball in front of the panjenbas (leaders) of the two teams standing face to face to each other on the line. If possible they can pick up the ball and run. The process of running and obstructing each other to put the ball on the goal line of the ground is allowed, Pun onba (change of side) and end of the game is given by the command of the umpire. The rules for the game are known as Kangjei lon. It has improved a lot and was demonstrated during the Fifth National Games 1999 at Imphal.

Sagol Kangjei (Polo)

To Manipuris according to Chaitharol-Kumbaba, a Royal Chronicle of Manipur King Kangba who ruled Manipur much earlier than Nongda Lairen Pakhangba (33 AD) introduced Sagol Kangjei (Kangjei on horse back). Further regular playing of this game commenced in 1605 during the reign of King Khagemba under newly framed rules of the game. The game requires perfect control of the pony, the stick and the ball with proficiency of riding. The sense of 'fair Play' was the main guided factor of this game. This is played between two teams of Seven players a side. During the time of the late Sir Chandrakirti Singh, K.C.S.I Maharaja of Manipur introduced regular game at Mapal Kangjeibung (now near Tikendrajit Park) on the ground of Sana-Lamjei (length 160 and 80 width in dimension) being one Lamjei equal to 6 ft (1.8 m) The game can be played in smaller ground also if occasion demands. Earlier, there was no definite rules for foul in traditional Sagol Kangjei.Manipur has produced players of outstanding calibres like Jubaraj Bir Tikendraji (Senapati of Manipur Army) as legendary player described by Mrs. Grimhood (1887–90). After 1891, Manipur produced outstanding players like (L) Ojha Tombi and Shyamjai Sharma who never had the chance to play in international tournament. From the history it is an established fact and accepted that Manipur is the birthplace of Polo of the World.

Yubi lakpi

Yubi lakpi is a traditional football game played in Manipur, India, using a coconut, which has some notable similarities to rugby. Despite these similarities, the name is not related to the game of rugby or Rugby School in England, it is in fact of Manipuri origin, and means literally "coconut snatching".


Oolaobi (Woo-Laobi) is an outdoor game mainly played by females. Meitei mythology believes that UmangLai Heloi-Taret (seven deities–seven fairies) played this game on the Courtyard of the temple of Umang Lai Lairembi. The number of participants is not fixed but are divided into two groups (size as per agreement). Players are divided as into Raiders (Attackers) or Defenders (Avoiders).
The Raiders say "oo" without stopping as long as they can continue and try to touch the Avoiders. If a Raider touches an Avoider is out, the Avoider is out. This process goes on till Avoiders are out or surrender. If a raider fails to say "oo" or is out of breath, the Raider is out. Points are counted on the elimination of Raiders/Defenders.
If Raiders are tired they declare for change and a time limit is decided on. The principles of Oolaobi are very similar to Kabaddi in India. The ground (court) is not marked; normally the open space in the premises of the house or temple is used for the game. Oolaobi is very popular with girls and a source of talent in Kabaddi.

Hiyang Tannaba

Hiyang Tannaba in progress
Hiyang Tannaba (Boat Race) : Hiyang tannaba (Hi Yangba Tannaba) is a traditional function of the Panas. This is held during the month of November. This was introduced during the time of Ningthourel Khunjaoba, the second son of King Khagemba, who dug the Kangla Moat around the Palace to make it impregnable in the year of 1660 after he ascended the throne in 1652.In the traditional function two boats "Tanahi" (Race Boat) are detailed for leaders known as "Tengmai Lappa". In each boat forty Hiroys(Boatsman) operate the boat. The boat which reaches the finishing line is the winner and all boatsman raise their (Now) oars high in the air as a sign of reaching the finishing line first and thus the winner of the race is declared. The leader pays his respect to the deity and the King of Manipur.

Arambai Hunba

People of Manipur are very fond of riding horses specially those who are in the village near the breeding areas. Since the ponies are easily available , the young boys get the chance of riding ponies without saddle on horse back. Sometimes they ride horse using a rope in place of regular bridle throwing branches of small trees in place of Arambai. This practice helped the Manipur Arambai force as a martial art which was very much required during the advance and withdrawal of forces. This art was very popular as an indigenous game of the youth of Manipur. This game is displayed even now , during the festival "Kwak Jatra" after Durga Puja.
Apart from these games, some outdoor games, which are played by children, are in a position of extinction. The games like Khutlokpi, Phibul Thomba, Chaphu Thugaibi etc. are very popular game in Cambodia. Such games are played especially during the Khmer New Year.

Indoor Indigenous Games


Kang game
Kang is played by both male and female Meities of Manipur. Manipuris believe Kang is a game played by deity " Panthoibi". It is also believed that Manipuris began to play this game well before Vaishnavism came to Manipur. It is culturally a fine game of Manipur specially of Meiteis. It is played under a shed of building on an earth ground (court) smoothly levelled to suit the course of the 'Kang' the target on the court. It is well marked for the respective positions of the players of both to hit the target on the court. It has rules and regulations formed by the associations to suit the occasions of the games either for tournaments or Friendly. The dignitaries of the Palace, even Queen and King also participated on social functions. In olden days 'Kang' was played during summer, starting from Cheiraoba (Manipur New Year) to Kang Chingba. Presently the game is played in several tournaments throughout the year, organised by the Associations. Rules and regulations have been modified to suit the improved process of the game.

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