Yes, as promised, here is the second installment of Seven Sisters of India facts. But at the very beginning, we must clarify something to all our readers. When we speak of Northeast India, we usually think of the Seven Sisters. However, Northeast India includes another state as well. It is Sikkim. Before we start our list of facts, let us take a look at the time line of their creation and their capital cities.
After India earned her independence from the colonial rule of British, there were only three states in Northeast. Those states were:
- Assam – a province which was directly ruled by the British.
- Manipur – was a princely state.
- Tripura – was also a princely state.
Assam’s capital was at that time, Shillong, which, as of today, is the capital city of the state of Meghalaya.
Over the next few decades that followed after independence, Assam was broken down into pieces, making way for new states. The first state to form after Assam broke was Nagaland, followed by Meghalaya and Mizoram. The timeline is given below:
- 1963 – Nagaland separated from Assam and became a new state.
- 1972 – Meghalaya separated from Assam and became a new state.
- 1972 – Mizoram separated from Assam and became a Union Territory.
- 1987– Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh gained statehood.
As far as Sikkim is concerned, Sikkim became Indian Union’s 22nd state on May 16, 1975. Indian Army actually took over Gangtok a month earlier in 1975 and the palace guards of Chogyal (monarch of Sikkim). A referendum followed this and eventually, 2.5% voted in favor of Monarchy while the remaining 97.5% voted against it. That is when Sikkim was absorbed in Union of India as a state. In 2003, China formally accepted that Sikkim is a state of India against India’s acceptance that Tibet belongs to China. If you want to learn the proper history of Sikkim, read this book. Though this book is currently available on Amazon.in as Kindle Edition, you can actually find the hardcover version on Amazon.com but at a very high price. On Flipkart, the book has been sold out. Keep a track and if you are lucky, you might just be able to grab a copy.
Now, the capitals of the Seven Sisters of India and Sikkim:
Okay, now time for the promised facts but, this article will mainly focus on Manipur facts. Facts about the other northeastern states will be covered in subsequent articles.
Fascinating Seven Sisters of India Facts (Manipur Facts): 1-5
1. The literal meaning of Manipur is ‘Land of Jewels’. You really don’t find jewels (stones) here but the most stunning jewel you will ever find is Mother Nature herself. Mother Nature let loose her generosity in this beautiful state.
2. The lingua franca of Manipur is Meeteilon or Meiteilon. It is actually the language spoken by the ethnic group Meiteis, which is the state’s primary ethnic group.
3. One of the many things that Manipur is famous for is Lai-Haraoba. It is a traditional dance (stylized), which the Manipuris perform for appeasement of goddesses and gods.
4. During World War II, Manipur was one of the Indian states that saw some fierce action. The British and the Japanese clashed at Imphal’s border. The battle ended with Japanese defeat.
5. The aforementioned battle was called the Battle of Imphal. Surprisingly, in this battle on one hand when the Allied forces clashed with Axis forces, Indian soldiers clashed with Indian soldiers as well. How? Read on…
Fascinating Seven Sisters of India Facts (Manipur Facts): 6-10
6. Allied forces (British) had Indian soldiers because India was under colonial rule of the British. On the other hand, Axis forces came to the corridor of India because of the support of Indian National Army or Azad Hind Fauj (led by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose). Netaji’s ambition was to overthrow the British colonial rule and hence, INA joined hands with Japanese forces.
7. The result of this conflict was that Indian soldiers pitched against Indian soldiers – one group raiding and another group defending.
8. Imphal is not the only place where British and the Japanese fought. They even clashed at the Battle of Kohima. It was the same story there as well. Indians pitched against Indians – raiding and defending!
9. Ras Lila in Manipur is one of the most famous dance performances of the state. This dance takes inspiration from the love affair between Lord Krishna and Radha and of course, unshakable devotion of gopis towards Krishna.
10. Did you know that the famous game of Polo that the Europeans play was not really the brainchild of the Europeans. The Manipuris used to play Pulu (a game played by riding on horseback). It was during the colonial rule of India when British came to know about Pulu and introduced it in Europe in form of Polo.
Fascinating Seven Sisters of India Facts (Manipur Facts): 11-15
11. Manipur is the home to the famous Loktak Lake, which is largest freshwater lake in Northeast India. It plays a major role in Manipuri economy.
12. And, this Loktak Lake is the home of world’s only floating national park. That’s something really incredible. The park goes by the name Keibul Lamjao.
13. And don’t forget the Phumdis on the Loktak Lake. They are floating islands and you can actually stay on one. You may just find yourself at a different location after you wake up after a good night’s sleep. They float around on the lake, remember?
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14. You must have heard of Mary Kom? At least you must remember her from the Bollywood movie starring Priyanka Chopra. However, did you know that M C Mary Kom is actually from Manipur and she won the World Boxing champion trophy 5 times. She even earned India an Olympic Medal.
15. And then there is Irom C Sharmila who is famous for being a political activist and a socialist. The hunger strike that she started back in 2000 as a protest against Malom Massacre ended in 2016. That’s 16 years of fasting. She didn’t have food or water during this period but her body was fed with essential nutrients using a pipe through her nose. She became famous as “Iron Lady”.
Fascinating Seven Sisters of India Facts (Manipur Facts): 16-20
16. One of the most popular sports in the state of Manipur is Mukna (wrestling).
17. Manipur is the first Indian state which introduced Oak Tussar Industry (basically Sericulture). Some of the other major industries that are found in Manipur are leather goods, edible oil crushing, rice mills and articles of canes and bamboos.
18. Manipur is primarily an agrarian state with maize, wheat and paddy being the primary products.
19. The largest industry that operates in Manipur is the Handloom industry. One out of three of all household workers of the state work in this industry.
20. Manipur’s sex ratio is 987:1000 (females:males) – the highest amongst the Seven Sisters.
Few Additional Manipur Facts:
- Eld’s deer is Manipur’s state animal. It is a brow-antlered deer. In Meiteilon language, it is known as the Sangai.
- The Sangai lives in Keibul Lamjao National Park and it can easily walk on Phumdis because of the specially adapted hooves.
- In 1966, Keibul Lamjao was actually designated as a sanctuary but was raised to the status of National Park in 1977.
- Loktak Lake is not only important to the humans but is also the home to 100 different birds species, 233 plant species and 425 animals species. Sambhar and Indian Python can be found here.