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Manipur is upset its traditional leirum phee is being sold as ‘Modi gamcha’ in UP

Snippets from the vibrant Northeast that capture politics, culture, society and more in the eight states.

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New Delhi: Manipuris have raised their voice against mass production of the state’s traditional cloth, ‘leirum phee’, as ‘Modi gamcha’ by weavers in Uttar Pradesh’s Barabanki, days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi was seen donning it as face mask.

The Directorate of Handloom and Textiles in Manipur also wrote to the Ministry of Textiles to stop this bulk production of the ‘gamcha face mask’ in order to safeguard the interests of Manipuri weavers.

The directorate has also cited “emotional discontentment” among Manipuris who have slammed the insensitivity of factory owners in the Uttar Pradesh town for copying their traditional design and printing it for mass profit.

“The emotions of people of Manipur ran beyond imagination,” K. Lamlee Kamei, director of the Manipur handloom and textiles department, said in the letter addressed to the development commissioner of Union textiles ministry.

The letter says how the traditional ‘leirum phee’ has cultural and historical importance for the people of Manipur. It also states that the directorate has started the process of acquiring a geographical indication (GI) tag for the cloth.

The red and white scarf was widely publicised by Prime Minister Modi during his nationwide address on 14 April when he announced the second phase of Covid-19 lockdown.

Also read: Nagaland village hosts open beauty salon to help locals earn money in lockdown

Bhutanese entrepreneur repairs embankment for 500 Assam farmers  

Drup Sanam Dukpa, a Bhutanese entrepreneur, has rebuilt one of the major culvert embankments along the India-Bhutan border in Assam’s Baksa district as a gesture of goodwill.

The villagers of Bagajuli, Kalipur, Hatiduba, Santipur, Mariampur, Patkijuli, Belkhuti, Angarkata, Kawli, Darrangapar and Goibari in Baksa are dependent on waters flowing downstream from Bhutan. However, work on the damaged culvert could not be done by the authorities in Assam due to the lockdown restrictions.

While farmers from these villages had brought the matter to the notice of Baksa’s Tamulpur MLA, Emanuel Mushahary, it was Dukpa from across the border who finally offered to help.

The entrepreneur, who owns a number of companies, including SD Eastern Bhutan Ferro Silicon Pvt Ltd, reportedly spent lakhs of rupees to rebuild the embankment with the help of Bhutanese workers. The embankment helps cultivators utilise waters diverted in five directions downstream.

The rebuilt structure has benefitted at least 500 villagers of Assam, confirmed Maheswar Narzari and Ganesha Limbu, the president and secretary, respectively, of a local embankment management committee.

Pandemic may push half of Assam into poverty: Study

A new study, sponsored by the Assam government, has found that 50 per cent of Assam’s population may be pushed into poverty if the state’s current unemployment rate of 8 per cent increases by more than two folds due to the Covid-19 crisis.

The study, titled ‘Report on Economy of Assam’, was commissioned by the State Innovation and Transformation Aayog in collaboration with the Omeo Kumar Das Institute of Social Change and Development in Assam.

“As a consequence of Covid-19, it is estimated that 67 lakh people’s livelihood will face vulnerabilities of myriad kinds,” it says.

The report predicts that Covid-19 will increase unemployment in the state by 15.7 lakh to reach 21.7 lakh. Consequently, the unemployment rate will also climb from the present 8 to 27 per cent. This, in turn, will push the poverty rate in Assam to 50 per cent.

Also read: Assamese bride turns humble face mask into fashionable wedding accessory

Assam boxer Lovlina Borgohain nominated for Arjuna 

The Boxing Federation of India has nominated Assam boxer Lovlina Borgohain for the prestigious Arjuna Award.

Borgohain had in March this year secured an Olympic berth in the 69kg category. The 22-year-old from Assam’s Golaghat is the state’s first ever sportswoman to qualify for the Olympics.

She was recently also ranked third in the world in the 69kg weight category by the International Olympic Committee’s Boxing Task Force.

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  1. Leirum phee is a manipuri shawl . These people from up bihar are copycats like China . There is some story about how meetei people got it from tangkhuls . It is a symbol of relation between tangkhul and meeteis .

    Copycat up bihar (India’s cancer )

  2. Ruirum | Luirum | Luirim | Ngeirung | Ngeirum Kachon | Leirum Phee.

    By Dr. Sinalei Khayi

    There has been a lot of controversy in the social media and news papers over the ownership of the Tangkhul traditional Royal shawl Ruirum, also known as Ruirim. It is an exclusive men’s wear- a ruler’s shawl and a royal attire. It is known to the Meiteis as leirum phee also known as mung phee ( ruler’s shawl).

    The social media and the designers had done a lot of injustice to the age old tradition and culture of the people by degrading the Significance and values of the shawl- reducing it to a mere casual wear; unabated use by all section of people; unwarranted production for commercial marketing; walking the ramps as females’ skirts, which is a taboo and considered a bad omen for the wearer.

    This ruirum/ruirim shawl is a prized possession of an individual, an identity of the wearer. It identify the wearer as a ruler, a royal, as dignitaries, as a meritorious person, as a guest of honor even in the present days.

    Ruirum/Ruirim shawl is not a mere Lengyan, it is not a modi kamcha, it is not a loin cloth, it is not a common attire of the Manipur tribals as stated in the various media. It is a royal shawl the identify a community belonging to a particular tribe, the Tangkhuls.

    The Tangkhuls and the Meiteis shared a mutual relationship in the cultural tradition of ruirum shawl/ ruirim/ leirum phee which dates back to time immemorial; the origin of the people; the feud; the inter- marriage; the customarily rites and rituals.

    There are stories of how this leirum phee tradition started:

    It is said that the king Pakhangba, on the occasion of his peace mission to the hill, following the fight between the hill and the plain was accorded with the gift of Ruirum shawl, was very please that he wished to called it leirum phee, meaning living together, and had pledged to used by all the meiteis, rich and poor alike at the time of marriage.

    Another story of how Luirum/luirim was introduced to the meiteis was recorded from the time of Nongda Leirel pakhangba (33 AD), the 12th. century constitution, the Loiyumba Shinyen, of how pakhangba took the Ruirum shawl from the possession of a Tangkhul girl was given to weave by the Thingujam lineage ( was mentioned as weavers of leirum phee), who are said to be Hundung origin ( khullem Chandrasekhar, 1975).

    It is recorded that the meiteis started using leirum phee during the reign of Kaangba. This is a story of how Nongpok Ningthuo, a Tangkhul king who fell in love with Panthoibi, a Meitei girl, whom the family compelled her to marry Khaba, was eloped by Nongpok Ningthuo from the groom’s residence. At the time of elopement, nongpok ningthuo had worn luirim shawl with which securely wrapped the belongings of Panthoibi.

    This was reflected in the meitei wedding to cover the ‘phiruk’ with a small replica of leirum phee, symbolic bonding, signifying of strong relationships as that of Nongpok ningthou and Panthoibi. ( Oral sources from Muttua Bahadur, 7.2.1976 and Dr.Lokendra Arambam 18.7.1996)

    Leirum phee was first presented to Angom princess, Nongmoinu Ahongbi by her parents , on her marriage to Khui Tompok (154-264). The Angoms had affinity with the Tangkhuls, claimed to be Hundung origin (Sobita Devi , unpublished Thesis, 1991)

    Here I quote from Dr. Sanajaoba ” a meitei family without Naga custom cannot be called a meitei, and a Meitei Laiharaoba without Nagas part can never be performed” (North East Sun, Dec. 31.1994 – jan 6.1995).

    With all this beautiful traditions shared and valued, should never mean to do away with the ownership of the shawl. We, as a people and good citizen should understand and respect the tradition and culture of every community and uphold its value.

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