IMPHAL: A group of people belonging to the Sanamahi religion (an indigenous religion of the state) today staged a demonstration in the capital city of Manipur, Imphal, demanding the inclusion of the religion in the census report of India. The demonstrators also urged the GoI to include their religion as a 'minority religion' in the Indian Constitution. This demand has been gaining steam as the religion, once the official religion of the state, is finding popularity among the youth.
Sanamahism is a folk religion, which competes with and co-exists with Vaishnavism – a tradition of Hinduism – among the Meitei people.
Sanamahi religion is believed to be the indigenous religion of the state. During the reign of King Garibniwaj (in the early 17th Century), Hinduism was announced as a religion of the then kingdom and thus, Sanamahai religion became a minority religion in the erstwhile Kingdom.
Today, it has become popular among the youth of Manipur, who have begun a bid to revive their original religion.
Today, a group of Sanamahi followers marched with the slogans of 'include Sanamahi religion in the minority religion list of the India constitutions', 'allot separate code number of the Sanahami religion in the census of operation of India', etc.
Sanamahi religion had its own myths and legends, gods and goddesses, priests and priestesses, rituals and festivals, etc. The history of Sanamahi religion started with the first king of Mi-tei kingdom around 1445 BCE.
His name was Tang-Ja LeelaPakhangba (1445 BC-1405BC) (Tang-Ja=short name forTang-Shang; Leela=who followed the Iril river trail;Pa=forefathers, Khangba=knew his forefathers, the Tang-Shang people).
His son, named Kangba. ascended the throne after his father's death. He named his kingdom –"Tilli Koktong" and constructed a Lai-Yum (a temple) forSanamahi God at Waroiching. The people worshipped Lainingthou Sanamahi for the welfare and longevity of the king and also for the prosperity, good livelihood for the kingdom.
Meiteis are believed to be the descendants of the Tang-Ja Leela Pakhangba. The subsequent 64 kings and their people practised the Sanamahi religion from 1445 BCE. till the abolition of Sanamahi religion in 1723 CE and declaration of Hindu Vaishnavism as the state religion during the time of KingGarib Niwaz (1709-48),
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