Maram Naga

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Maram
Regions with significant populations
Manipur, India 10,911 (1988)Directorate for Tribals and Backward Classes, Imphal[1]
Languages
Maram language
Religion
Christianity Animism
Related ethnic groups
Other Naga tribes

The Marams are tribals of northeast India, inhabiting Senapati district of the tiny state of Manipur. They belong to the ethnic group of people called the Nagas. They are the only Nagas who did not consume pork in the past; today, with the advent of Christianity, the Maram Nagas have started changing their food habits. The Marams (or Maram Nagas) are a people known for their rich cultural heritage. There are more than thirty Maram villages scattered in the geographical expanse generally known as the Maram Area. As per Census 2001, the Maram Nagas number about 37,340 in total (Manorama Yearbook 2012, p.576). According to UNESCO database on endangered languages, the number of speakers is 37,000 (based on India Census 2001). These figures, however, need further corroboration.

The neighbours of the Maram Nagas are other Naga tribes: to the North are the Mao Nagas; to the east are Poumai Nagas; to the South are the Thangal Nagas; to the South West are Zeliangrong Nagas (Liangmai); and to the West are Zeliangrong Nagas (Zeme).

Maram girls dressed up for “Mangkang” festival The people speak the Maram language. There are some variations in the way the language is spoken; this corresponds with geographical contiguity.

For the sake of convenience and simplicity, they may be classified into five groups: those of Maram Khullen and its neighbouring villages; those of Willong and its surrounding villages; Villages in an around Tahamzam (Senapati); Tumuyon Khullen; and Ngatan villages.

Under the UNESCO’s classification of ‘degree of endangerment’ of languages, Maram has been put in the category of ‘vulnerable’; it means that “most children speak the language, but it may be restricted to certain domains (e.g., home)”. So, it is not that bad if one were to look at it in terms of the spectrum of degree of endangerment which ranges from ‘vulnerable’ to ‘extinct’. If a language were to be categorized as ‘extinct’, it simply means that “there are no speakers left”. True, the Maram language is not in immediate danger of extinction, but if the current neglect continues it might not be long before alarm bells start ringing.

Maram Khullen (also called Maramei Namdi) is the biggest and oldest Maram Naga village. The quintessential role of Maramei Namdi as the preserver of the tribe’s culture, social norms and ethos continues to hold sway. It zealously guards the many customs and traditions of the tribe. The people of this village continue to follow the “LUNAR” calendar for its customs and traditions. Willong is another Maram Naga village where, awareness about and practice of, traditional mores and culture is a prominent feature in the lives of the people.

The Maram Nagas use Roman script, as that of their own remains undeveloped. Not much is yet written about the people. This is therefore an opportunity for scholars who wish to undertake research, especially of anthropological nature.


Naga women dehusking paddy rice Agriculture is the main occupation of the people. Women bear the major burden of household chores including taking care of children. Women will collect water and firewood. Men are responsible for cutting down of trees from which firewood are prepared. Both men and women are involved in rice cultivation: while digging of fields, sowing of seeds, transplantation of saplings, and harvesting are common activities, men are responsible for ploughing the fields.

The two major festivals of the Maram Nagas are Punghi (celebrated in July) and Kanghi (in December).

The Maram Nagas still maintain the age-old tradition of kingship. On 28 April 2011, K. Namba was crowned the new king of the Maram Nagas. Following the death of his father Karang, the king, his mother Apei Hinga had carried on the tradition as the Queen. The Queen too passed away on 27 August 2010. Since then, preparation had been on for the coronation of the new king. He is now officially called as Sagong Namba. Sagong in Maram language means king.


The King and Queen at the coronation ceremony The geographical feature of the Maram area includes hills, scrub and tropical forest. Although the majority of the population have embraced Christianity, some still follow the traditional religion which may be characterized as a form of animism.

A simple way of locating the Maram Nagas is as follows: Asia – India – Manipur State – Senapati District – Maram Naga Tribe.

The following sentences will not make you an expert in the language, but it will definitely help break the ice in your interaction with the people. | Tingchoi kiibi (Good morning | Smoulai mak-ke (How are you?) | Halang takle (Thank you) |

Demographics[edit]

Menhirs at Willong Khullen. Willong is the second largest village of Marams, according to the 1992 figures.

Marams are mainly found in the Senapti district of Manipur. According to the 1992 figures, the Maram Khullen was the largest village of Marams, followed by Willong.[1]

Culture[edit]

Ponghi, a seven-day festival of Maram Nagas, is celebrated on the 20th day of Ponghi-kii (July), when rice transplantation is completed, another very interesting festival of Maram tribe is "Mangkang". Mangkang is the biggest festival of women, maram always have a great respect for women.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Joseph Athickal (1992). Maram Nagas, a socio-cultural study (illustrated ed.). Mittal. p. 2-5. ISBN 978-81-7099-354-4. 
  2. ^ "Festivals". District Administration, Senapati District, Manipur. Retrieved 2011-10-24. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Joseph Athickal (1992). Maram Nagas, a socio-cultural study (illustrated ed.). Mittal. ISBN 978-81-7099-354-4.