Online exhibition of Umang Laigi laikon: Sacred groves of Manipur at IGRMS.
Staff Reporter :
Under 62nd series of online exhibition by Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya (IGRMS), ‘Umang Laigi laikon: sacred groves of Manipur’ situated in Sacred Groves open air exhibition of Manav Sangrahalaya was presented online with its basic information and photographs and videos. About this exhibition, Dr Praveen Kumar Mishra, Director, IGRMS said, “The Meiteis of Manipur practice nature worship and ancestor worship. Many of lofty hills surrounding the valleys are named after Umang Lai (the ancestral deities) who is worshiped to be presiding deities of land and people of areas under control of deities. They also have tradition of worshipping sacred groves. ‘Umang Lai,’ literally means deities who give an appearance and illusively vanish from the common sight.
There are about 365 Umang Lai groves all over Manipur. About Umang Laigi laikon Shri Dheer Singh, Assistant Horticulture Officer told that the cultural practices such as maintenance of Umanglai (areas of Umang Lai) and celebration of Umang Lai Haraoba (an annual festival of Umang Lai) in villages and clan level and observances of Jina (taboo) among the hill tribes had been a medium to control the society in maintaining a harmonious relationship with the nature. Since time immemorial, such kinds of cultural practices have been a powerful source in maintaining region’s ecological balance. Meitei people believe in existence of their ancestral soul, who possesses divine power to regulate society under his good or evil. According to local belief, Umanglais are those ancestral or guardian deities who indicate and reserve their permanent abode by divine actions.