Maram Naga boys at Rahanki in Manipur
Maram Naga boys at Rahanki in Manipur

Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Rahanki, the boys’ dormitory of Maram Naga tribe of Manipur is on display with its basic information, photographs and videos on official website and social media pages of Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya, Bhopal.

The exhibition, which began from Thursday, is part of online exhibition series-37. The exhibit has been installed at Tribal Habitat open air exhibition area of museum.

Museum assistant Gitu Yaikhom said Maram Naga villages have separate dormitories for boys and girls. In these dormitories, boys and girls spend a certain period of their lives after attaining puberty. They learn ethics and lessons of life from informal teachers or incharge of respective dormitories.

The dormitories are learning centres for boys and girls who voluntarily offer service during social, religious, and economic activities of the village. “Traditionally, boys are trained to become vigilant for protecting village from enemy attacks or raids,” Yaikhom says.

Museum associate N Sakmacha Singh said Maram Naga village may have one or more dormitories depending on its size and population. A married man with a family is appointed as caretaker of boys' dormitory. No woman except the wife of the caretaker is allowed to enter it. A heavy fine is imposed if rules are breached.

A view of Rahanki
A view of Rahanki

A distinct feature of Rahanki is presence of a triangular frieze on the front gable that reaches the ground. It is painted in black and white geometric motifs. The two massive structures hewed out of single tree as the gable is uniquely twined with jungle vine and locked by a decorative piece of wooden motif representing the beak of a hornbill. Another feature is the presence of two entrance doors, one meant for the caretaker and his family, while the other is exclusively used by the boys.

After the birth of a child, a family has to offer rice beer to respective clan of that particular Rahanki on two occasions - Lamsham (road cleaning day) and Rakak (observance for the dead). This is done till the child attains three years of age. Rahanki mirrors the past traditions and values of Maram Naga tribe. Although this traditional institution still exists, it has acquired a modern look.

Maram Naga is largely distributed in Senapati district of Manipur. According to 2001 census, their population in the state was 37,340. Out of the many villages inhabited by them, Willong Khullen is considered to be the second-largest village.

The present-day village chief is now a nominal head but he still holds authority over religious rights and it is by his permission that religious activities commence, Mishra says.

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