After Dark Diwali And Muted Ningol Chakouba, Gloomy Christmas In Manipur
After a dark Diwali, Christmas in Manipur will be a sorrowful event this year with a significant number of people having no resources to go to church. Thousands of internally displaced people in Manipur have been in relief camps for almost 8 months.
After a dark Diwali, Christmas in Manipur will be a sorrowful event this year with a significant number of people having no resources to go to church. Thousands of internally displaced people in Manipur have been in relief camps for almost eight months. Many have just buried their loved ones, and many are yet to find the bodies.
Ethnic clashes broke out in Manipur on May 3 following a protest by the hill-majority Kuki tribes against the valley-majority Meiteis over the Meiteis' demand for the affirmative action Scheduled Tribes (ST) policy.
Both communities have seen their places of worship destroyed in the mob violence.
"This time it would be a low-key Christmas, only normal church service would happen. There would be no singing, no feasting together," said Sasang, who lives in a relief camp in Churachandpur.
Manipur's economy has been affected by the violence, with Christmas shopping next to nothing. "Hardly anyone is spending this Christmas as they have run out of money. Many have not got their salaries yet," Ravmeet, a cloth merchant from Churachandpur, told NDTV.
Another person in a relief camp said it would be impossible to meet friends and family this Christmas. "We are staying with great difficulty. Our church, our houses have been burnt down. We won't be able to meet our friends and relatives as we all are now far apart," said Lhaineilam, who lives in a relief camp.
Many Christians living in the state capital Imphal, including Meitei Christians, have decided to forego the celebrations this year considering the magnitude of the situation and in solidarity with those in relief camps.
The Kuki group Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF) has asked people in Churachandpur district not to indulge in "overtly conspicuous" celebrations.
"This time we have asked people to celebrate among themselves and help others to celebrate by extending resources to those who are left marginalised in the crisis," said Kaipam Kamrang, the pastor of Tangkhul Baptist Church in Imphal.
Thuireisang Ssinglai, a shopkeeper in Imphal, said they saw good sales last year. "But this time it is different," the shopkeeper said.
Manipur has already seen a "dark Diwali" and the gloomiest Ningol Chakouba, which the Meitei community celebrates after Diwali, and is similar to Bhai Dooj except that in Manipur it is the brothers who welcome their sisters from their matrimonial homes for a grand feast.
The Supreme Court on November 29 specifically pointed out the role of some civil society groups in keeping tensions in Manipur simmering, during a hearing on burying bodies kept in morgues. Ordering the petitioners to bury the dead respectfully in designated sites instead of government land, the Supreme Court had said the petition appeared like an "idea only to keep the pot boiling."