By Paoginthang Lhouvum
The Thadous are found in Manipur, Assam, Nagaland and Mizoram in India, and in Chin state and Sagaing Division in Burma/Myanmar. In Manipur, they are mostly found in South-Western Hills and Sadar Hills, Churachandpur district, Ukhrul district, Jiribam and Chandel district.
From time immemorial, the Thadous have a culture of their own and distinct language, literature, dress, social life, and self-government, livelihood, defence, marriage, divorce, naming a child, Kut Festivals, Sagol Kengkhai, Vaphol lam, Lakoi lam, Khongbai lam, Lamkuol, Saipikhup, suh, folk dances, Jhumming, Domestic animals, Religion, Hunting etc…
Thadous have a language distinct from other tribal languages; the Government of India has recognized the Thadou as a tribe and as a language-cum-culture and customs. This is recognized by the President Notification under Article No. 342 of the Indian Constitution vide the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes, List Order Notification No. SRO. 2477-A. Ministry of Law & Home Affairs, Govt. of India dated 29th October, 1956 in New Delhi with respect to the State of Manipur.
While the kings ruled in Manipur, the Thadous served as the Manipur Army and helped in the maintenance of Law & Order. So that, the Meiteis composed the Folk Song, “MANIPUR SANA LEIBAK, CHINGNA KOINA PANSABA, HAONA KOINA PAN NGAKPA”. The followings are the recognized as Thadou tribe covered under the Amended Vide Govt. of India Ministry of law Notification Order No. SRO-24777-A, Dated 29th October, 1956, New Delhi.
Genealogical tree of the Thadou as constructed by McCulloch in 1857 having been proved as the correct version was by Dr. Grierson, C.A, K.C.I.E, Ph.D, D. Litt., LL.D, ICS (Rtd.), in his book on “Linguistic Survey of India” (Vol.III: Tibetan -Burman family, Part III: p. 351, 361 & 383) in 1904 after fifty seven years of publication of McCulloch’s work. Grierson is an eminent scholar and renown authority on language in both academic and administrative worlds. He contended that:
“It has become customary to use the term New Kuki to denote the Thados and their off-shoot, that Thado is the name of their original progenitor. That in Manipur they are called KHONGZAIs and that they used this name themselves in conversation with Manipuris. Whom they called Mei-lei (Meilhei)”. Grieson, as expert and authority on language, included THADOU in the Tibeto-Burman group of linguistic family (1904: p383: Linguistic Survey of India, Vol III, Tibeto-Burman Family P: Part.III) saying that:
“All these tribes, with the exception of Baite, speak the same language, and the dialectical differences are on slight. The language itself is according to Stewart, Lieut. R, (1857: A slight Notice of the Grammar of Thado, published in the Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal Vol. XXIV: 187-88) and Damant, G.H. (Notes on Manipuri Grammar and North Cachar Hills, published in the Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal Vol. XXIV: 173) called THADOU-PAO, Thado language”.
According to 2011 census, the total Thadou population in Manipur was 1,90,595. The Thadous are the second largest tribe in Manipur preceded only by the Meiteis or Manipuris. In the All India Radio programme, Imphal, the Thadous have a 30-minute programme daily from 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Many sinister designs and intrigues have been chalked out unsuccessfully by many with the intention of maligning the image of the Thadous. Nevertheless, the Thadous have relentlessly manoeuvred in pursuit of their goal and strived for peaceful co-existence with their sister tribes and the non-kukis. And our humble appeal to all our sister tribes viz.Vaiphei, Paite, Zou, Gangte, Kom, etc. etc. is to bury the seeds of misunderstanding and hatred deep under the earth never to surface again, and to resort to mutual understanding, negotiation and consensus for our better tomorrow.
Let love and peace reign in our land which is impossible without your physical, moral and logical support. As Nelson Mandela rightly says “forgive and forget” be our watchword and let us seize the moment in transforming it to a moment of reconciliation.
The “Thadou Tribe Council” and the “Thadou Students’ Association” are the two important bodies constituted by the Thadous for the welfare of its people and in reviving the once sunken Kuki nation by taking the necessary initiatives. Any matter concerning Thadou must be consulted with them.
Lastly, there is no Kuki language as such but a Kuki nation. There is a Thadou language, Vaiphei language, Gangte language, Mizo language, etc. When there is a consensus for a Kuki language by amalgamating the existing languages of the Kuki tribes, there ought to be an official notification. Till then, do not be baffled by the deceits and artifices of some vested individuals.
The writer is Manipur-based freelancer.