Manipur Flag-hoisting Tradition

With elections in Manipur being scheduled from 27th February to 3rd March, the candidates are holding a unique flag hoisting ceremony in their constituencies before embarking on campaigning to the people of the state. This ritual is unique to Manipur, is practiced by people of all races, political parties, religions, and communities.

Overview:

Generally, on an auspicious date, this ceremony is held in the courtyard of the respective candidate’s home. The event consists of a priest’s prayers, hoisting of the party flag by the candidate, and blessings from the elders of the community. The scale of the ceremony varies from one candidate to the other.

The Athenpot Thinba is an important aspect of the flag-hoisting ceremony.  The women carry various vegetables and fruits, traditional snacks, rice, and flowers and place them at the base of the flagpole of the party. Other gifts are also presented to the candidate to wish him or her good luck in the polls.

Thinba means to present or drop things, and Athenpot means an offering that contains a variety of objects such as flowers and food.

In religious practice, Athenpot is given to gods to appease them, while in elections it is presented to the candidates to show support.

The candidate can then converse with the audience or give a speech.

How is the date of the ceremony selected?

The date of this ceremony is chosen based on astrological predictions.

Variations of the ceremony

While this ceremony is shared by all there are variations on how it is performed. The Meiteis may include a puja in their ritual while the event is presided over by a pastor followed by blessings from elders, and singing of hymns in the Christian districts of the hill.

Significance of this celebration

Through this ceremony, a candidate declares the constituency they are representing and also showcases the popularity.

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