Tensions erupted in several parts of Manipur recently after a solidarity march organised by a tribal students’ union to oppose the demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status by a section of the majority Meitei community in the state.


About Meitei Community

  • The Meitei people, also known as the Manipuri people, are the predominant ethnic group of Manipur State.
  • They speak the Meitei language (officially called Manipuri), one of the 22 official languages of India and the sole official language of Manipur State.
  • Distribution —
      • The Meiteis primarily settled in the Imphal Valley region in modern-day Manipur, though a sizable population has settled in the other Indian states of Assam, Tripura, Nagaland, Meghalaya, and Mizoram.
      • There is also a notable presence of Meitei in the neighbouring countries of Myanmar and Bangladesh. 
      • The Meitei ethnic group represents about 53% of Manipur’s population.
  • Clans — They are divided into clans, the members of which do not intermarry.
  • Economy — Rice cultivation on irrigated fields is the basis of their economy.
  • Religion —majority follow Hinduism, while more than 8% are Muslims.


What is Yaoshang Festival?

  • It is celebrated by the Meitei people at the same time as Holi and is known as ‘Manipur’s version of Holi’.
  • The five-day-long celebration begins with the burning of ‘yaoshang’(a small thatch hut/straw hut), which is constructed with bamboo and straws on the first day.
  • The highlight of the festival is the Thabal Chongba, a traditional Manipuri folk dance where boys and girls hold hands and sing and dance in a circle.
  • The festival marks the rejuvenation of the spirit of life and commemorates the birthday of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.