[ CI Mannou ]
Sangken is a festival of the Khamti and Singpho tribes. It is a socio-religious festival observed by the Theravada Buddhist sect. This festival is celebrated at the advent of the spring season every year in the month of April (Naun-Haa) of the Khamti calendar and corresponds with Sankranti of Baisakh. This day is celebrated with great devotion and enthusiasm as it indicates the end of the old season and the advent of the new season.
The legend of Sangken is derived from the holy script of the Khamtis, the Vinaya-Kathing Na, wherein it is stated to be linked with Nang Phee (Celestial daughters), who unknowingly helped Chau-Khun-Keu in giving out the secret of how to kill their father Brahma in Deva-Lok. Therefore, mankind, especially the Theravada Buddhist community protect themselves from the evil hands of Chau-Khun-Keu with the blessings of the Buddha.
Thus, on the day of Sangken, which is fixed as per astrological calculation, the idols of Lord Buddha are brought from the regular shrine to Kyong Fra, a especially constructed temporary shrine and the blessings of Lord Buddha are invoked by sprinkling clean water over the idols and all holy objects. Water is also poured on the hands of Bhikkus seeking blessing as the people consider them as the shadow of God.
Water is also poured over the feet and hands of the respected and elderly people for blessings. After sprinklings and pouring water (Son-Fra), people make fun and merriment by pouring water over each other. During the celebration of Sangken, the people of the Theravada Buddhist sect observe certain percept of taboos which generally calls for peace and harmony of mankind.
At the end of the celebration, statues of Lord Buddha are taken back to the Viharas. The Idols are cleaned with scented water before restoration to the original shrine inside the Viharas. The restoration of the idols to their original shrine marks the end of the celebration.
Poi-Sangken follows the celebration which is a concluding function of the celebration. In the morning, people congregate inside the Viharas for Khamsin- Thamtra observance of Pancha Sheel and paying obeisance to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Thus, the whole celebration comes to an end with the people wishing each other peace and harmony.
This year, the festival of Sangken will start on 14 April (Wednesday) from 5.46 AM. It will be over on the morning of 16 April at 9.51 AM (Friday).
It is believed that the devil (Chau-Khun-Keo), riding on a wild buffalo, will enter the earth from the east direction and will travel towards the south. So, the face of the Buddha will be towards the south direction.
It is predicted that this year, heavy rains, thunders, floods and cyclones are likely to occur in the middle and at the end of the year. Because of these ill effects, the living beings on earth, including animals and birds may face some misfortunes and miseries. (The contributor is a retired school principal from Chongkham).