TODAY -

The concept of Langban Tarpan

Oinam Anand *

Tarpan Katpa tribute to the martyrs of June 18 at Kekrupat, Imphal :: October 01 2012
Tarpan Katpa tribute to the martyrs of June 18 at Kekrupat, Imphal on October 01 2012 :: Pix - Bunti Phurailatpam



An act of charity in the form of offering feast to the Brahmans, Vaisnavas and old men is practised among the Hindu families or more precisely among Meetei Vaisnav families in Manipur. This practice of charity is mostly performed in the observance of the death anniversary of the parents and elders like 'Kumon Phiroi' (first death anniversary) and 'Chahi Gi Din' (annual observation).

At the same time some people observe these forms of charity of feast ('Utsav Katpa' in Manipuri) in the full moon day of the month of their choice taking it as a sacred day. This act of charity in the form of offering feast is undertaken with the spirit of love and sacrifice.

It is believed that by offering food to the Bramhans, Vaisnavs and other elderly men, the soul and spirit of the forefathers are also pleased and protect their children on the earth from difficulties and bless them for their good days in the life ahead.

The followers of Hindu religion believe that the deeds they have done in their present life moulds the form of life to be taken after the present life. Our spirit or soul enters into the body of different living beings according to our deeds in the former life.

Those who embraced the path of 'Punya' (good and noble life) attained salvation and find their eternal place in the abode of God. Even if they are to be born in the earth again, they attain the life of good men and men of excellent qualities in the society.

Those who commit sin in their lives, their lives will be degraded into lower beings from beasts to motionless one's like trees, grass and small living objects.

If one does not perform rites and rituals or meditations and wallowed in the sinful activities in their life time, then they become the little creatures like mosquitos, leeches etc and constantly subject to birth and death to these lower form of life following the divine order 'Be born and die'.

With this faith the follower of Vaisnav religion have taken the second half of the 'Langban' month (Name of Manipuri month that coincides with September) as the days of offering pujahs and feasts arranged specially to please their forefathers who had died long ago.

It is believed that at the beginning of Autumn season, in the month of Langban, the sky is very clear and the length of the days and nights are also equal throughout the Globe. At this season the spirit and souls of the forefathers are very eager to know how their descendents live in the earth.

So the forefathers from 'Pralok' (a place in heaven) leave their abode temporarily and come up to the edge of the earth and remained mixed in the air. They look down upon the earth to see whether there are worthy sons and grandsons in their family who are virtuous, good hearted, patriots and worthy son of the society.

When those invitees in the 'Tarpan Utsav' in the form of Brahman, Vaisnav and old man are fed to their stomach's content, the soul of the forefathers are also pleased.

Then they shower blessings on their children for their good and prosperous life in future. Those souls for whom their were no offerings from their children felt humiliated and go back cursing their descendents on the earth.

As mentioned above, in our cycle of life and death, there are both 'good' and 'bad' characters in every family who had lived and died ages before and had taken different forms of lives from godly man to small insects. How and in what form do they receive the offering in the form of 'Tarpan' from their sons.

omenfolk offering their prayers at Kekrupat on the occasion of Tarpon Katpa at Imphal, Sept 27, 2007
omenfolk offering their prayers at Kekrupat on the occasion of Tarpon Katpa at Imphal, Sept 27, 2007



The 'Puran' has explained in this way. Those who are born in the form of God receive the offering of their sons and grandsons in the form of 'Amrit' (a heavenly food). Those who are born in the clan of demons receive them in the form of 'Bhog' (a form of food for them).

Those who had taken the form of herbivorous animals receive the offerings in the form of fodders and grasses, those who had taken the form of carnivorous family got these offerings in the form of meat, those born in the family of birds receive the offering in the form of corns, fruits etc. So the offerings of the sons and grandson in the 'Tarpan' reach the forefathers in any form that is suitable for their form of life.

Generally in Manipur only two ways of offering 'Tarpan' is followed. The first one is 'Abbyuadayik Shradha'. This is the grand form of Tarpan in which there is a need of reciting the exact names of at least seven of the grand fathers and grandmothers both from paternal and maternal side and it is usually associated with grand feast and 'sankritans'.

The another one is 'Ram Tarpan' in which any son can perform in his home in a pond with some flowers, some tulsi leaves, fruits etc with a religious incantation from the 'slokas' of Vedas.

In modern society, this belief in 'Tarpan' has got lesser takers. The argument in their favour is that there is no reason to believe that our offerings have reached the hands of our fore fathers who had died long ago. And modern theory of life negates the theory of life after death or reincarnation.

The saying of 'Vedas' may be true or may not be true. There is no practical proof to prove the possibility or impossibility of the beliefs in our mind. Those who believe, take it. Those who don't want, don't take it.

But the fact is that when we make some offerings and sacrifice a bit of our earnings to the society then, there is contentment and solace in our mind.

When we remember the hardship faced by our parents in bringing us up, there is no amount or valuable thing in the world which we can pay back what we owe from our parents.

One cannot see the real picture and form of God but one definitely see the real God in the body of father and mother. They are God to us when they were alive, they still are God even they had gone into another world.

So offering a simple thing as simple as can be in the form of a spoonful of water, a leaf of Tulsi with pure and sincerity in heart has more than a large feast offered by the rich cunningly in showy manner.


* Oinam Anand writes regularly for The Sangai Express.
This article was webcasted on October 01, 2007.


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