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Ningol Chakouba is one of the popularly celebrated festivals in the state which falls on the second lunar day of the Manipuri calendar’s Hiyangei month. Ningol means ‘married woman’ and Chakouba means ‘invitation for feast’; so the festival is the one where the married women are invited to their parents’ home for a feast. The invitation comes from the son(s) of the parental family of the ningols, generally a week in advance; it strengthens the bond of affections among the brothers and sisters, daughters and parents of a family.
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The history of Ningol Chakouba dates back to the time when King Nongda Lairen Pakhangba ruled in Manipur. The Queen Laisana used to invite her brother Poireiton to the King’s palace for a feast once in a year. So, it was known as Piba (brother/son) Chakouba rather than Ningol Chakouba. But the tradition changed during the time of King Chadrakirti Singh (1831-1886) in the 19thcentury. He invited his sisters for the feast as it was difficult for him to visit their places in one day. Thus, the tradition changed to Ningol Chakouba since then and continued to become an integral part of Manipur’s rich culture and heritage.
On this joyous day of Ningol Chakouba, along with the kids the married daughters of every family come to their parental home with a festive mood and much of emotions to be reunited with other members of the family. Every woman wears the finest of traditional and ethnic clothes, bring fruits and sweets to be shared with the family and cherish the beautiful moments of the childhood that she once lived with her brothers, sisters and parents.