Birth Ritual among Meitei/Meetei Sanamahi Community of Manipur: Meaning, Practices and Significance
By Chingshubam Merathaba Meetei
This paper describes and gives the meaning, customary practices, contexts and significance of birth ritual among Meitei/Meetei community of Manipur under Sanamahism. Meitei/Meitei community is the predominant ethnic group of Manipur, one of the seven north eastern states of India bordering Myanmar, and Sanamahism is the traditional religious faith of this community. Like the followers of every world religion the followers of Sanamahism among the Meitei/Meetei community have been observing certain life cycle rituals since time immemorial. The present study describes and interprets the underlying facts and significances of customary beliefs and practices on birth of a child of the community through the perspective of Sanamahism. Doing review of relevant literatures and using the methodology of qualitative field research through interviews and discussion with, as well as through overt participant observation, the paper proposes that birth ritual of Meetei/Meitei community under Sanamahism is one of the important aspects of the socio-cultural life of the community; it has social, cultural and scientific significances, and it also plays a significant role in identifying the ethnographic description of Meitei/ Meetei community of Manipur on religious line. This proposition is explained throughout the paper first by describing all the relevant concepts of birth ritual, followed by analysis of all the aspects of rites and their meanings. The paper contributes to a broader understanding of, and discourse on, the theme and the fundamental basis of birth ritual of this small Meetei/Meitei community of India.