It better be the real Kut: An insight

Published on October 28, 2006

By Donn Morgan Kipgen

October 28, 2006: Cometh the day of reckoning, cometh the moment of joy and happiness, when comes the first day of November. This day of truth is the auspicious all-encompassing modernised post-harvest festival called the Kut, the most important non-religious social event for all the Chin-Kuki-Mizo (CHIKIMS) world wide. The CHIKIMS’ Kut is strictly a Thanksgiving post-harvest open festivity steep in its traditional glory, sactimonious in its existence, honourable in its cultural status and rich in its own history. It is a CHIKIMS’ version of the famous Yom Kippur Kut of the Israelis and Western World’s free-for-all Thank-giving Day observation, especially in the US where-in musical entertainments and social gatherings are the main events.

Actually, the significance and origin of the CHIKIMS Kut needs no introduction in detail to the western civilised world since it predates most of the social-cultural events in the entire North-East India. Due to the lack of written record, the exact date of the first organised Kuts’ observations cannot be specifically pinpointed in world’s socio-cultural history, a multi-facet event which has a very long long historical existence, the Kut could be as old as it gets. The origin of the ancient Kut in NE India and Burma could be as old as the time when the present day valley areas of Manipur was a great fresh water lake, the remnants of which is now called the Loktak Lake.

It is worth mentioning that five of the first ten Manipuri Kings bore the names of the Kukis in all their literal sense. The geo-politico- cultural observation made by the Late N. Bisheswhor Singh, the founding leader of the Manipur’s Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA), that both the CHI-KIMS and Nag-as were of the same origin with the Meeteis in his politically correct book, ‘Expression from my Death Bed’, can be used as a parametre of as to why the Meeteis and Nagas have whole heartedly blended into the realms of the Kut festival so automatically.

The fact the Meeteis and Nagas of all status have brotherly and responsibly graced the Kut festivals in all parts of the State so enthusiastically have shown or given the undeniable impression that the ‘Divide and Rule policy’ of the British Raj, State and Central Govt (i.e political parties) had utterly failed to break the bond that entwined the socio-cultural unity of the CHIKIMs, Naga and the Meeteis. Upon this very time-tested fact of abstract faith and sense of brotherhood thrive the people’s Kut festival, revived and modernised by the elite sons of the CHIKIMS to be most entertaining, auspicious and to protect the honour of the near forgotten time-ravaged symbol of the Kukis cultural unity.

The Modern Kut, first known as the Chavang Kut, had been patriotically revived with full vigour and self-sacrifice in all its glory in 1979 by the truest sons of the Kuki nation, spear-headed by the legendary Maj S Pagin Kipgen, SM, Pu Paokhokai Kipgen, Secy Works (Rtd), Pu Holkhomang Haokip the Ageless, Pu LM Haokip IAS, Pu Paokhosei Kipgen the warrior, Pu N Tombiraj the Crooner, Pu Ngulkhohao Lhungdim the Trumpeter etc among others. They took pride in its concept, contribute their respective private resources with their hearts’ out without official financial assistance from the Govt as it is now. Beyond their wildest dreams, the all-popular CHIKIMS’ Kut has gone to such high status and astounding recognition, so much so that even the Kut founding fathers’ name have been just about almost by the present day Kutters.

In a 2005 Kut Souvenir, the name of the modern day’s Kut founding leader, the fame Maj S Pagin Kipgen, SM of the 1st Assam was excluded in exalted list of Gallantry Award’s winner whereas two other Se-na Medal (SM) recipients from the Assam Regt were depicted and honoured wherein many CHIKIMS’ gallantry award winners were also left unhonoured. How could the pride of the Assam Regt and the CHIKIMS; noble son, the late Maj S Kipgen SM (IC No. 1443OA) who received the 2nd highest peacetime gallantry award i.e the Sena Medal (SM) be simply ignored in the 2005 Kut Souvenir of all magazine! When confronted, the then PRO, 57th Mtn Div and the AR, Lt Col Santanu Dev Goswami of the 14th Assam, meekly replied that he had given the State Level Kut Committee (SL-KC) the information provided by the Army’s 101 area Hq. So, both the SL-KC and Col Goswami simply overlooked the very person who matter most to them. It is worth mentioning that as a 25 year old (Captain) combat instructor at the NDA, Maj S Kipgen had trained as many as 4 general officers of the Indian Army, including the previous IG AR (S), Major Gen, BS Ghotra SM, of the Gorkha Rifles among other brigade commanders.

Now, what really is the CHIKIMS Kut? This Thanksgiving folk festival is observed with full gaiety after the year’s field work is done and reaping is sto-red for the next full ye-ar. In short, the Kut is observed to mark the end of the arduous yearlong toil, sweat and hardwork. Technically and agriculturally speaking, the Kut is a sort of new year’s day for the ancient farming communities. With the coming of Christianity, a half century ago in all parts of Kuki nation, the Kut festival took the back seat since the pre-Christian Kut was a ‘pagan’ ceremony.

Actually, in the olden day’s Kut, each and every village, or cluster of villages, celebrated with pomp, gaiety and spirit. Apart from games and sports, wine and dining was free for all, anybody could drink and eat with his/her heart’s desire. It’s always a day friendship, joy and forgiveness. Unlike today’s Kutters, there were no fighting nor a spirit of enmity amongst the very highly ‘spirited’ and pump-up Kutters. After all, it only comes once in a year and none would dare to make a mess out of it. It is an occasion to enjoy the rich bounties of Mother nature in all its full glory, joy and spirit. Nothing comes better than a good Kut. The most endearing popularity of the modern Kut is the rich nature of its entertainment items, its accessibility, its free spirit of the multi-cultural events, its strong presentation and its near perfect blending of both the traditional and western features. To get them altogether in one stage on one single day is an achievement by itself.

At present, the Kut is at its most testing and challenging period. It is the patriotic duty of the SLKC to protect the honour of the CHIKIMS Kut. Apart from the spectacular and colourful day-time Kut programme which sadly lost its venerable, the main event is the much-loved Miss Kut cum Fashion Queen contest which understandably generates much more spirited and awesome response from the Kutters of all caste, creed and religion. A sea of Kutters just really love and throng the Kut’s event even before the sunlight leaves the horizon. The over all appeal of the Kut says so much about the uniqueness of the Manipuri society. It is no longer an exclusive CHIKIMS cultural showpiece since its reach and scope of participation grow wider and farther. This is a very promising socio-cultural development.

It would be highly desirable that the SLKC initiate a novel item to recognise and honour all CHIKIMS achievers in all field of works and institutions. The most fitting event ought to be that of “Best Scholars, Farmers, Outstanding Sportspersons, Young artistes, journalists and other laudable Achievers of the Kut year”. Just a citation or memento with a few thousand rupees as per the grade of achievements ought to be presented on the grand stage of the Kut. After all, it’s the CHIKIMS Kut for the sons and daughters of the CHIKIMS. Happy Kut to one and all!