The tradition of sports
dates back to the ancient history of Manipur - a history of small
kingdoms which were in keen competition with one another. Wars among
themselves and with the Aawa (the Burmese) resulted in a martial
tradition which in turn gave due impetus to the development of
Sagol Kangjei (POLO):
The Manipuri Sagol Kangjei has been adopted by the International
Community as Polo and is now being played worldwide. The 'PUYAS' trace
it to the mythological age when the game was played by gods. The game
is played with 7 players on each side mounted on ponies which are
often not more than 4/5 feet in height. Each player is outfitted with
a polo stick made of cane having a narrow angled wooden head fixed at
the striking end. The ball, 14 inches in circumference is made of
bamboo root. The mounted players hit the ball into the goal. Extremely
vigorous and exhilarating, the game is now played in two styles - the
PANA or original Manipuri style and the International style i.e. Polo.
The ponies are also decorated fully with various guards protecting the
eyes, forehead, flanks etc. The British learned the game of Sagol
Kangjei in the 19th Century from Manipur after refinement it was
transplanted to other countries as Polo.
Thang Ta & Sarit Sarak (Manipuri Martial Arts):
These are the Manipuri Martial Arts, the traditions of which had been
passed down over the centuries. It is a very energetic and skillful
art and is a way to hone one's battlecraft during the peace time in
the olden days when every Manipuri was a warrior who is required to
serve his country at the time of war. Long and precise practices is
required and only the brave and athletic could excel. The art as seen
today observes elaborate rituals and rules which are strictly followed
by the participants.
Yubi Lakpi (Manipuri Style Rugby):
"Yubi" is the Manipuri word for coconut and "Lakpi" for snatching.
Played on the beautiful green turf of the palace ground, or at the
Bijoy Govinda Temple Ground. Each side has 7 players in a field that
is about 45 x 18 metres in area. One end of the field has a
rectangular box 4.5 x 3 mtrs. One side of which forms the central
portion of the goal line. To score a goal a player has to approach the
goal from the front with his oiled coconut and pass the goal line. The
coconut serves the purpose of a ball and is offered to the king or the
judges who sit just beyond the goal line. However, in ancient times
the teams were not equally matched but the players, with the coconut
had to tackle all the rest of the players.
Hiyang Tanaba (Boat Race):
It is generally held in the month of November at Thangapat (a long
man-made stretch of water). The boats called Hiyang Hiren is regarded
to be invested with spiritual powers and the game is associated with
religious rites. The Meiteis believe that worship of the Hiyang Hiren
will negate evil omens. The rowers don traditional dresses and head
gears. The game is also conducted during the times of natural
Mukna (Manipuri Wrestling):
This game is the Manipuri style of wrestling played between two male
rivals for trial of strength by sheer physical strength and skill.
Athletes of the same or approximately the same physical built weight
and, age are made rivals. The game is an absolute must for the closing
ceremonies of the Lai Haraoba festival. Mukna is a highly popular and
prestigious game. In the olden days the game enjoyed royal patronage.