In Manipuri, ‘Ningol’ means daughter and ‘Chakouba’ means invitation for a lunch in the mother’s house. ‘Ningol Chakouba’ is a special day for the married daughters in Manipur, and ningol’s kids are the happiest one at the idea of wearing new cloths and meeting bobok(grand-ma), pupu (grand-pa), mamma(uncle) and others.
A social festival of the Meiteis and many communities of Manipur, it binds and revives the family relations between the girls married away and the parental family. Nowadays, other communities have also started celebrating this kind of a family-bonding festival. It is held every year mostly during the month of November.( It is observed on the second day of the new moon in the Manipuri month of Hiyangei.). Sometimes it falls in October.
On this special day, a grand feast of ‘iinjang mathen-mathen’ (various cuisines) is prepared in the honor of the daughter at her ‘mapam’ (mother’s house). The invitation is formally done generally a week ahead by the brothers to pay a visit for the lunch.
On ‘Ningol Chakouba’ married daughters visit their ‘mapam’ (mother’s house) wearing their finest and bring fruits and sweets for the family. ‘Kabok Khoidum’, ‘Rasogullas’,’ Samosa’, ‘Kachoari’, ‘Sev Bhujia’ are some of the special snacks that ningols gets for the family.
And along with the other fruits, coconut is a must. Daughters have lunch along with all the family members. The lunch session is usually long as it is always accompanied with chitchat. Daughters are presented gifts by the parents and brothers.
While receiving the gifts from the brothers, younger ones are blessed by elder ones for well being and prosperity in life. And at the end of the day everyone bid goodbye to the happy ningol who is made special on this occasion.
For family having many married ningols, a grand feast prepared by a ‘bamon’ (the cook) is arranged and everyone have the lunch together and it’s again almost like a ‘mapam chakouba’ (marriage reception).
Fish is an important item on the menu. ‘Sareng’, one of the expensive fish is the favourite of the day for many ningols. ‘Rohu’ again another type of fresh water fish is also enjoyed by many as fried item or curry. ‘Catla’ and ‘Grass Carp’ too is prepared in curry form.
An ‘Iromba’ item is a must. For a large number of people, ‘laphu Iromba'(Bananna Stem preparation) is mostly opted and easy to prepare and is a tasty recipe. ‘Agouba’ a mixed fried item of potatoes and fish pieces also is a must.
Shopping for the festival, melas, crowded fish stalls in ‘Emma market’, old ladies enthusiastically selling multicolor ‘phaneks’ (traditional dress) and the excitement of people buying gifts for their daughters further add zest to the festival.
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