Tuesday, May 17, 2011



Hinduism and Sanamahi

The people of Manipur follow several faiths and religions which can be traced down to its unique historical past. Sanamahism is an ancient indigenous religion, rich in mythology and colorful in ritual. The Sanamahi worship is concentrated around the Sun God/Sanamahi. Early Manipuris were the devotees of a Supreme deity "Lainingthou Soralel" following the footprint of their Godly ancestors. That particular kind of ancestor worship and animism, with the central focus of worship on Umang Lai – that is, ethnic governing deities worshipped in sacred groves. Some of the gods(Lais) Manipuris worship are Atiya Sidaba, Pakhangba, Sanamahi, Leimaren, Oknarel, Panganba,Thangjing, Marjing, Wangbaren, Koubru. The religious life of the people, even when they adopted non-mainstream Hinduism, retained many characteristics inherited from their prehistoric ancestors. The essentials of this religion remain recognizable to the present day. Hinduism has an ancient presence in Manipur, but did not win widespread adoption until relative recent history. It was in the 15th century that a particular form of Vaisnavism was adopted and spread under the reign of King Kyambathrough to King Khagemba in the 19th century. Towards the end of the 19th century and at the advent of the 20th century, a great force of Gaudiya Vaishnavism came and spread in Manipur. Over the last couple of decades there has been a revival of Sanamahi religion and this was evident in the significant growth of the "non-mainstream" religion category in the 2001 census which amounted to 17% of the population. Due to the revival of demographic profile of the state, Sanamahism will now be included in the next Government of India population census in 2011. According to the 2001 census Hinduism is identified with 47% of the population.


St.Joseph's Cathedral at Imphal
Christianity in Manipur started to spread in the 19th century onwards by missionaries. The 20th century saw the establishment of a few Christian schools which then introduced Western-type education in this remote part of the world. Some of the finest schools in Manipur are Little Flower School in Imphal, Don Bosco High School in Imphal, St. Joseph's Convent, Nirmalabas High School.

 These schools have produced achievers in various professions such as medicine, engineering, and other branches of science. A sizeable Meitei population have joined Christianity. Christianity constitutes 34% of the population.


Muslims numbering 190,939 form about 8.32% of the state population as per 2001 census. Influence of religious preceptors- Shaikh Shah Jalal Yemeni who came to Sylhet in 1303 AD and Azan Fakir Baghdadi in 1690 AD in Assam is also felt among Manipuri Muslims. There are Arab, Turani, Bengali and Mughal or Chaghtai Turk sections among Manipuri Muslims.

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