Rath Yatra or locally known as Kang is one of the most sought-after festivals of Manipur. Kang or Kang Chingba is observed for consecutive eight days, this festival is basically the Manipur version of Rata Jatra festival celebrated in Puri. However, this popular festival in Manipur is celebrated mainly by the Meitei community. Throughout these ten days, the festival celebrates the journey of Lord Jagannath, his sister Subhadra and the brother Balabhadra. During the Kang festival, the deities leave their abode and the idols all the three deities are drawn in the Rath of Lord Jagannath. The name ‘Kang’, which is a local word, derives from the same Rath (cart) which is used to drawn Lord Jagannath and his brother and sister. With almost 20 ft. of height and six giant iron wheels, this Rath is pulled by thousands of devotees during the entire journey. Besides the imposing height, what attracts the eyes of people is the appearance of the Rath which is beautifully decorated. The procession Manipur Rath Yatra remains almost the same as that of Puri and is observed only on the first and last day of the festival.
Throughout the journey, the music of drums, bells, conch, and gongs are played by the pilgrims which is one of the major rituals of the festival. However, an important thing to know here about this beautiful Manipur festival is that the procession of Lord Jagannath is observed from Shree Shree Govindajee Temple of Imphal to Sanathong through a pre-decided route. After reaching Sanathong, the procession is taken back to the temple along the same route. Wherever the procession leads, the people make the offering of flowers, incense sticks, fruits and barti (small cotton balls soaked in ghee). Not just this, there remains a competition amongst the devotees to pull the cart as it is a belief that whosoever holds the ropes and takes part to pull the Rath will be sanctified. Therefore, you can see eager people looking for an opportunity to pull the cart. Apart from the Rath Yatra, in the entire Manipur, the locals also organize their own procession (Kang Chingba) in their valleys. Besides, every evening for nine days, various folk dance and music performances are also observed at the mandap of Brahmin.
Celebration Dates & Month
The festival of Kang Chingba is celebrated in the Manipuri lunar month, which falls between June and July.
Highlights of the Festival
- The festival of Kang celebrated through Rath Yatra, which is similar to that of Puri.
- In the Rath Yatra, the idols of Lord Jagannath along with his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra are placed on a cart which is pulled by thousands of pilgrims.
- The procession starts from Shree Shree Govindajee Temple and after reaching Sanathong, it heads back to the temple.
- Throughout the journey, the music of gongs, bells, conch, and drums are played to commemorate the deities.
- Throughout the journey, pilgrims offer fruits, flowers, barti and incense sticks to the rath
- As a ritual of this festival, people also organise their own procession in the valleys.