What is Sojibu Nongma Panba?
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.