|2 million–3 million|
|Sanamahism , Hinduism & Christianity|
The Meiteis or Meeteis (Hindi: मैतै, Bengali: মৈতৈ) form the majority ethnic group of Manipur, one of the northeastern states of India. The Meiteis/Meeteis reside the valley regions of Manipur (which was once an Ancient Asian Independent Kingdom known by the names Kangleipaak, Sanaaleibaak, Meitrabaak, Poirei Leibaak, etc) from the time immemorial. Right from residing in the valley regions up to their way of dancing steps or walking down the road, the Meiteis/Meeteis have a great interesting and meaningful customs. The Meitei people are made up of Great Big Seven Clans, who trace their written history back to 33 AD.
The Great Seven Clans are:
- Angom Salai
- Moiraang Salai
- Khaa Ngaanba
- Salai Leishaangthem
The Meitei/Meetei People reside mainly in the valley regions of Manipur. Also in some places of Indian States like Assam, Nagaland, Tripura and also in International Countries like Myanmar, Canada, United States of America, Thailand, etc.
The Meiteis/Meeteis speak Meiteilon as their mother tongue. The Meiteilon Language is one of the Tibeto-Burman Languages. The Meiteilon has bee proven as the integrating factor among all ethnic groups in Manipur who use it to communicate among themselves. It has been recognized (as Manipuri), by the Indian Union and has been included in the list of scheduled languages (included in the 8th schedule by the 71st amendment of the constitution in 1992). Meiteilon is being taught as a subject up to the post-graduate level (Ph.D.) in universities of India, apart from being a medium of instruction up to the undergraduate level in Manipur.
Once being one of the Ancient Asian Independent Kingdom, the Literature of Meiteilon is very rich. It also plays a major role in the traditions and customs of the Meitei/Meetei Society.
In 18th century, the language was prone to a vulnerable conditions as its literature books and the Holy book, Puyaa, was burned down by an outsider Hindu Priest to spread Hinduism across the Meitei/Meetei Society. The on-going generations are putting there hard work to revive their original literature, traditions and customs. Indeed, their is an improvement.
Before the invasion of black sight of that Hindu Priest, the Meitei/Meetei society follow the cultures and traditions of Sanamahism. After 18th century, the religion of Meitei/Meetei society seem to have passed the critical era then it falls apart into the followings:
- Meitei/Meetei Marup
- Meitei Christian
The Meitei/Meetei Marup are the one who only follow the Sanamahism religion. Meanwhile, the Meitei-Hindu follow both Sanamahism and Hinduism religions. Islam is followed by Meitei-Paang-hal. Meitei Christian chose to follow Christianity.
The culture of the Meitei/Meetei people is very distinctive, colorful, numerous. Right from the infants till old ages, the Meitei/Meetei people are adorned by their distinctive and colorful culture. They have different distinctive traditional attires separate for each and every ritual occasions and for normal life at home too.
For Normal Life at Home
- Khudei, a traditional rectangle piece of cotton clothe which is un-stitched and wore at the lower part of the body. The size is adjustable. Colors are of choice.
- Phurit, a shirt-like traditional attire usually cotton or silk. It covers the upper part. Colors are of choice.
- For Meitei/Meetei Marup, "Paaklei-Namsaa" is being put at the forehead after a bathe.
- For Meitei-Hindu, a chandon is being put at the nose after a bathe.
- Phanek, a traditional rectangle wrapper made of cotton, which is usually plain in pattern of single colors. And is stitched to make a gown-like thing. Phanek covers only the lower part of the body. The size is adjustable. Colors are of choice.
- NOTE : Married women wear phanek in such a way that the lower border COVERS the foot ankle and does its signifies that she is married. Whereas, unmarried women wear the same way but by making the lower border of the phanek ABOVE the foot ankle, which signifies that she is unmarried.
- Phurit, a blouse-like thing made by cotton which covers the upper body.
- Eenaphi, a light piece of clothe made up of cotton. Colors are of choice. Its use like a shawl to cover above the blouse. Its ONLY used by married women.
- Paaklei-Namsaa, a traditional touch mark is put on the forehead after a bathe, for Meitei Marup.
- Chandon, is put up after a bathe, for Meitei-Hindu.
- Lei Naachom, an extra small floral bouquet which is usually put on either of the ear roof. If right, it indicates she is single. And if left, she is commited.
- North American Manipur Association
- European Manipuri Association
- Laishram Sadananda, "What is Manipuri Literature?" Talk at New York Public Library, 2006.