How Kut should be celebrated

Published on October 27, 2010

By Haoginlen Chongloi

A golden Jubilee stone of “Chavang Anthah Lhun Kut” has been erected on 18th October at Gangpijang village, Sadar Hills, Manipur (India). This indicated that Kut celebration has attained some height at its 50th year. The Chavang Anthah Lhun Kut celebration which probably began in 1961 [for this village] in no time caught the attention of the whole of Manipur state.

Thanks to our beloved forefathers who had contributed their might for the event! We fully owe the credit to them for their names are inscribed on the wall of every living heart every time we celebrate. In fact, till 1978 Kut was just a matter of a village affair and did not gain serious attention.

But 1978 was a turning point in the Kut history. It was in the year 1978 that the Kut Committee of this village invited Pu Ashon and Pu Holkhomang Haokip, the then minister of state and cabinet minister respectively, which ultimately popularised Kut to the whole of Manipur, if not the whole world. The Kut which traced its revival from this small village is no longer a village affair. It begins to catch the eye of every individual who considered it a rejuvenation of our past glory.

A large scale celebration was held for the first time at Jatamphai also known as Keithelmanbi Military Colony in Sadar Hills in the year 1979. Celebration from then spread like a wildfire in the whole of Manipur and begins to knock the door for recognition. To the relief of our leaders, November 1 was declared as a Manipur state holiday from the early 90s.

Experiencing the present scenario

Against the expectation of our forefathers, Kut of today hardly realises the true spirit of its celebration. This perhaps arises due to the love for western culture.

To be precise, modern-culture-influence-Kut no longer acts as a tool to educate the young ones. Rather, it turns to be a favourite time-pass for half-clad-girls and full-bagged-men. Kut in the real sense has lost its sanctioned honour. Cultural dances and display of traditional riches as the main event are replaced by Miss Kut-contest which is something unusual when the real sense of Kut got defined.

The villagers (the Gangpijang village) who claim to have celebrated Kut before the advent of Christianity do not find any inherited tradition of beauty contest. As September ends, the tussle between pro-miss and anti-miss goes to take a heavy toll to the Kut fraternity.

While beauty contest is gaining popularity, there emerged a band of boys and girls who oppose Kut at all cost. How thought-provoking is the minds of these young youths? The writer is also a strong proponent of this ‘school of thought’. He holds this not merely of curiosity but after enough and thorough study of Kut celebration from time to time and from place to place.

His finding urgently argues to present this write-up to all parents, loving brothers/sisters and to all friends. If this trend of Kut celebration continues, a nation moves ahead to nowhere but to the straight end of death. He said that he was once a victim of night programmes or Miss Kut. By then nobody (leaders, elders) was there to care about the future of thousand pillars.

After a five-year stint [in the building of western culture] he began to realise those useless pursuits of selecting beauties. Because beauties are celebrated at anytime and everyplace in the world and this post-harvest-festival in no way deserves to add silver on it. Besides Imphal, the writer had gone to celebrate Kut festival at Kanggui, Lamka, Saikul and Moreh and witnessed how people of different places experienced and accept this post harvest festival.

He is bold to state the similar attitude every [or we] Kutters had – Kut is meant to have beauty contest at night. People begin to feel Kut celebration ‘bored’ without beauty contest. Apart from matured ones who feel Kut a boring subject without beauty contest there, are children too. Young children nursed from such environment are bound to follow suit. These young children when attained a considerable age will ultimately follow the wrong footsteps of what it is today.

They are likely to consider beauty contest to be a part and parcel of Kut celebration. How hard it could be to deal with this growing up children? Successive Kut Committee has failed to address this ‘viruses’ that had crept into our society [or today]. It is a well known fact that symptoms are the last stage of a man infected by virus. Are we going to wait the symptoms totally disregarding the virus?

The champions of this group are neither leaders of frontal organisation nor a political leader. They are just students – a victim to what their parents of today enjoy? It is the saddest state of affairs when a son teaches his educated father on morality. In one place where this writer celebrated Kut, he was shocked to see young children aged between 13-17 holding bottles of B***.

A vendor nearby happened to ask why they were so abnormal that evening. One of the boys abruptly replied: “We have no other time to enjoy like this, only Kut provides us. Our parents will say nothing.” This is one example among thousands of our children. They are the unlucky ones as leaders on the stage never knew it.

Ways on and ways ahead

And to be calculative, it is a well known fact that a large part of the sanctioned amount is spent on prizes of beauty contests. For a wanderer [foreigner] who once got the sight of celebration will never accept it as a festival recognised on the ground of tradition. This year the whole prizes of Manipur state level beauty contest is estimated to be around Rs 3 lakhs, while every district level celebration is willing to throw away Rs 2 lakhs each.

It is estimated that a sum total for the whole state could be approximately Rs 20 lakhs which perhaps shows Kuki people are by and large hedonistic. There are people who are unwilling to donate a few bucks for a meaningful cause but donate in tens of thousands in beauty contest.

In this sense, Kut has great and rich patrons. But to the writer, 20 lakhs are utilised just to satisfy drunkards and nocturnal life meaningful. It is painful on how useless sons and daughters of a man in power. But parents, as loving they are, fail to admit it.

This is the reason behind why sons and daughters of a high profiled man became a liability to the family and the society as well. All this can be checked only when all educated parents take steps. Negligence if any on the part of the parents and leaders could be seen with the heightened responsibilities with retirement.

Off course, 20 lakhs are just notes. And money is meant to be earned and spent. The essay is not just for the sake of volume spent but the volume, big or small, spent to pollute the young minds. Money is not that matters, but matters what money does.

There are more meaningful things needed to be done. 20 lakhs can be spent in reviving our tradition. It can be used to produce 1,000 or more expert players of Gosem, which the society is lacking; can be used to teach 10,000 or more boys and girls experts in Suhta-Laam (bamboo dance). Moreover, it can be utilised as an award to promising personalities who could serve as a role-model to the young ones.

If not, it can also be used in construction of library, war cemetery or a museum where these tribes can preserve their rich cultural heritage. This may sound strange but in practice, it will yield more result than beauty contest.

Never mind on the saying Kutters and drug users shared a single similar character. Because as in the case of drug takers whose “dose” got increased every time they take, Kutters too increase their “dose” in the form of incentives for miss Kuts.

The implication is that if the dose [or prizes] is not increased, you are not going to enjoy the ‘kick’ you expect. This is the simple reason why Miss Kut prizes got increased by 50% in 2 years. If the trend continues, by 2020, Miss Kut prizes alone could never be less than Rs 15 lakhs and the total prizes for the whole contest could be approximately 35 lakhs (for state level only).

According to the present growth rate of 50% in 2 years, the whole state spending for Miss Kut by 2020 is something in terms of millions. The irony is that the amount is going to grow yet not the heart of the people. Some people are sceptical whether Kut be still accorded a post-harvest-festival or a state owned festival by 2020. We are lucky if it is accorded as a post-harvest-festival by 2020. And, continue to cherish if Kut is still celebrated by 2050.

When cultures foreign to us begins to intrude, it is accepted that it already consolidates its position in some ways or the others. So, let’s all be part of it to take up the issue. It is a right time to adopt a model on the line of tradition. The present form lacks its real sense of protecting our identity. A weeklong celebration, if not a day, may be proposed instead of a single night with plastic bottles everywhere. It will be the wisdom of the organising committee if pleasing Kutters change from ‘ramp-walk’ to offering traditional snacks and drinks to all.

As in the word of Napoleon, a word impossible is for fools. It is possible if reforming society through Kut is the priority. I, the writer, wish all Kutters, and more of its celebration committee, for grand success of KUT 2010. Thanks once again to the KUT celebration committee, Moreh, for adopting a model on the line of tradition. I hope a paradigm-shift with the next celebration for the whole of Manipur state.

The writer, who is a resident of Gangpijang village, is a post-graduate student in Manipur University, India.

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