Sojibu Nongma Panba is a traditional festival of Manipur, a northeastern state of India. It is celebrated on the 14th day of the lunar month of Langban (February/March) by the Meitei community of Manipur. The festival marks the beginning of the agricultural season and is dedicated to the goddess Sojibu, the deity of paddy fields and crops.
The term Sojibu Nongma Panba can be broken down as follows: ‘Sojibu’ means the area where the goddess Sojibu resides, ‘Nongma’ means the first, and ‘Panba’ means cultivation or ploughing of the fields. Hence, the festival is also known as the ‘First Ploughing Festival’.
The festival begins with the preparation of the soil for cultivation, followed by the ceremonial ploughing of the fields by the head of the family or the eldest member of the community.
This is considered an auspicious event, and it is believed that the success of the upcoming agricultural season depends on the ploughing.
After the ploughing ceremony, offerings of fruits, flowers, and other items are made to the goddess Sojibu. The people then visit the nearby temple of Sojibu to seek blessings and offer prayers for a bountiful harvest.
The festival is also marked by cultural events such as traditional dances, songs, and feasting.
Sojibu Nongma Panba has a significant spiritual and cultural significance for the Meitei community of Manipur. The festival signifies the beginning of the agricultural season, and it is believed that a good harvest is necessary for the prosperity and well-being of the community.
The festival is also an occasion to celebrate the bond between humans and nature and to offer gratitude to the goddess Sojibu for providing them with sustenance.
Sojibu Nongma Panba is a unique festival that is a testament to the close relationship between the Meitei community and their environment.
Sojibu Nongma Panba is primarily an agricultural festival, and the traditional foods prepared during the festival are made from the newly harvested crops. Some of the popular traditional foods prepared during the festival include:
Chak-hao kheer: It is a rice pudding made from black rice, which is also known as chak-hao in Manipuri. The black rice gives the pudding a distinctive color and flavor.
Ngari: It is a fermented fish dish that is a staple in Manipuri cuisine. The fish is usually dried in the sun before being fermented and can be eaten with rice or other dishes.
Chamthong: It is a clear soup made from various vegetables like cabbage, pumpkin, beans, and herbs. It is usually served with rice.
Kangsoi: It is a vegetable stew made with bamboo shoots, potatoes, onions, and other vegetables. It is also served with rice.
Eromba: It is a spicy mashed vegetable dish made with boiled vegetables like potatoes, yams, and colocasia leaves. It is typically served as a side dish with rice or fish.
Paknam: It is a steamed cake made from rice flour, coconut, and jaggery. It is a popular dessert and is typically served with tea.
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How is Ugadi celebrated?
On this day, people wake up early in the morning, take a bath, and decorate their houses with mango leaves and rangolis.
It is believed that Lord Brahma, the Hindu god of creation, started the creation of the universe on this day.They also offer prayers to Lord Brahma, and seek his blessings for a happy and prosperous new year.
People prepare special dishes like Ugadi pachadi (a mixture of six different tastes -to remind us of the qualities of LIFE itself – sweet, sour, salty, bitter, spicy, and tangy), pulihora (tamarind rice), bobbatlu (sweet stuffed bread), and other traditional delicacies.
People also exchange gifts and sweets with each other and visit temples to offer their prayers.
The significance of Ugadi festival is both religious and cultural.
It marks the beginning of a new year and is considered an auspicious day to start new ventures and make important decisions.
It also signifies the onset of spring and the harvest season, and people pray for a good crop and prosperity. On the religious front, the festival marks the beginning of the Vasant ritu (spring season) and is considered an auspicious time to start new ventures, such as business, education, and marriage.
In Karnataka, Ugadi is also known as “Yugadi” and it holds great significance in the state’s cultural and traditional heritage. On this day, people clean their houses and decorate them with fresh flowers and mango leaves, which are considered auspicious.
In some parts of Karnataka, people also perform the ritual of “Panchanga Shravana” where they listen to the predictions for the upcoming year according to the Hindu lunar calendar. The predictions are based on astrological calculations and are believed to give an insight into the future.
Panchangam is an astrological almanac used in South India to calculate auspicious timings and events according to the Hindu lunar calendar. (In the north it’s called Panchang)
Panchangam is closely related to the study of astronomical positions of stars, constellations, and planets. It is based on the positions of the moon and other planets in the solar system, as well as the 27 constellations or Nakshatras that the moon travels through during its revolution cycle around the earth.
The calculation of the Tithi, Nakshatra, Yoga, Karana, and Var (Panchangam means five limbs in Sanskrit) are all based on the positions of the moon, sun, and other celestial bodies in the solar system.
Read More about Panchangam
Let’s take a look at the five parts of the Panchangam in more detail:
Tithi – A Tithi is a lunar day, which is calculated based on the position of the moon in relation to the sun. There are 30 Tithis in a lunar month, each lasting for approximately 24 hours. The Tithi is used to determine auspicious and inauspicious timings for various events, such as weddings, business deals, and other important activities.
Nakshatra – The Nakshatras are the 27 constellations that the moon travels through during its cycle. Each Nakshatra is associated with a specific set of characteristics and is believed to have a particular impact on human life. The Nakshatra is used to determine the most auspicious time for starting a new venture or undertaking a new project.
Yoga – The Yoga is the combination of the positions of the sun and the moon, and it is used to determine the auspicious and inauspicious timings for various activities, such as traveling, starting a new job, or buying a new home.
Karana – The Karana is a half Tithi, which is used to determine the most auspicious time for certain activities, such as cutting hair, trimming nails, and other personal grooming activities.
Var – The Var refers to the day of the week and is used to determine the auspicious and inauspicious timings for various activities, such as starting a new business, getting married, or signing a new contract.
The Panchangam is used by astrologers, priests, and individuals to determine the most auspicious timings for various activities and events in their lives. For example, if someone is planning to start a new business, they may consult the Panchangam to determine the most auspicious date and time for launching their venture.
It takes into account the day, time, and location to create a personalized calendar for a specific region or individual.
Another popular tradition on Ugadi in Karnataka is the “Huli Vesha” or the Tiger Dance, where people dress up in tiger costumes and dance to the beats of drums and other musical instruments.
The dance is believed to bring prosperity and good luck to the community.
In Karnataka it’s celebrated on the same day as in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.