The history of Ningol Chakouba dates back to the time when King Nongda Lairen Pakhangba ruled in Manipur. The Queen Laisana used to invite her brother Poireiton to the King’s palace for a feast once in a year. So, it was known as Piba (brother/son) Chakouba rather than Ningol Chakouba. But the tradition changed during the time of King Chadrakirti Singh (1831-1886) in the 19thcentury. He invited his sisters for the feast as it was difficult for him to visit their places in one day. Thus, the tradition changed to Ningol Chakouba since then and continued to become an integral part of Manipur’s rich culture and heritage. On this joyous day of Ningol Chakouba, along with the kids the married daughters of every family come to their parental home with a festive mood and much of emotions to be reunited with other members of the family. Every woman wears the finest of traditional and ethnic clothes, bring fruits and sweets to be shared with the family and cherish the beautiful moments of the childhood that she once lived with her brothers, sisters and parents.
Ningol Chakouba is celebrated in November according to Manipur calendar’s second lunar day of the month Heyangei. Meiteis and many other communities of Manipur celebrate the festival with the same spirit. Ningol means women and Chakouba means calling for lunch or dinner. On the Ningol Chakouba day people invite their married daughters and their children to their home for lunch or dinner and give gifts to daughters and their children. On this day, married women come to their home from distance places to reinforce their relationship with maternal family and recall their lovely childhood memories. Root of Ningol Chakouba is in some legend stories. According to old epics Goddess Jamuna invited his brother Yamaraj, a God of death, for a feast. Same as Queen Laisana requested his brother Poireiton to have a meal with royal family. The festival is said to be started in around fourth century. Queen Laisana stared a trend to invite brother to sister’s home for feast. Initially the festival was called Piba Chakouba, Piba means son. Later In nineteenth century King Chandrakriti found the task of visiting all sisters’ home in one day difficult. He started a new trend to invite all his sisters to his home so that Piba Chakouba became Ningol Chakouba.
Invitations of Ningol Chakouba are conveyed in advance to all married daughters and sisters. Invitation cards are crafted from betel leaf rolled over betel nut. On the day of Ningol Chakouba married women dress her selves in colorful and lovely dresses and bring sweets, savories, fruits and other things for parental family members. Elder lady of the family prepares favorite dishes for her daughter’s choice. Fishes and meat are main ingredients of the feast. They cook main traditional dishes like Chagempomba, Pan Thongba, Iromba, Champhut and so more. All Ningols spend time with their families by chit chat and fun. Later in the afternoon Ningols brothers and parents offer gifts to Ningols and Ningols give blessings to their family in return. Some families have many married daughter so they arrange big event on the day of Ningole Chakouba. They invite all daughters and keep a special cook to prepare grand feast of the day and many families get along and enjoy meal together.Shopping on the day of Ningol Chakouba has become big attraction for people. Market place turns out to be crowded and full of traffic jams. Old ladies sale fishes with great passion. People throng the market place to buy gifts, different types of fishes, green vegetables, multicolored traditional dresses and many more interesting things. Nowadays TV channels broadcast special programs for women on the day of Ningol Chakouba. Theaters arrange special screening shows and popular movies on the festival day. Tambola games are locally popular on the festival but lately it is known as Housie. Many parts of the community organize big event to play Housie and award handsome prizes to participants.