Sagol Kangjei

On January 6th, 2023, Home Minister Amit Shah inaugurated a 122-foot-tall statue of a polo player astride a Manipur Pony in Imphal, Manipur. The statue is part of the Marjing Polo Complex, which has been in the works for several years now.

  • The complex is a way to conserve the Manipur Pony, a horse breed with a powerful cultural significance for Manipuri society. In this article, we will discuss the history and cultural significance of the Manipur Pony, the game of Polo and the Marjing Polo Complex.

The Polo Game and the Manipur Pony

  • Modern polo is said to have originated from Sagol Kangjei, a sport indigenous to Manipur. Polo players ride horses, specifically the Manipur Ponies, which are referenced in records dating back to the 14th century.
  • The Manipur Pony is one of five recognised equine breeds of India. It has a powerful cultural significance for Manipuri society and is used only for cavalry, rituals, and sport, not for working as a draught animal.

Cultural Significance of the Manipur Pony

  • The Manipur Pony has a deep cultural significance for Manipuri society. According to Imphal-based curator and author Somi Roy, the Manipur Pony features in mythological stories, and is celebrated in oral tradition, ballads, and rituals.
  • In Manipuri mythology, the Manipuri pony was regarded to have descended from 'Samadon Ayangba' the winged steed of Lord Margjing, one of the guardian deities of Manipur,' the document states. Historically an important part of Manipuri armies, it is used only for cavalry, rituals, and sport, not for working as a draught animal.

Conservation of the Breed

  • However, the small and dwindling numbers of the Manipur Pony has been a cause for concern. The 17th Quinquennial Livestock Census 2003 had recorded 1,898 Manipur Ponies; the number fell to 1,101 in the 19th Quinquennial Livestock Census in 2012.
  • The Manipuri Pony Society tried to conduct a random survey in the state in 2014, they said they found it difficult to count even 500 of the animals. N Ibungochoubi, writer and secretary of the Manipur Equestrian Association stated that the need of the hour is to restore the natural habitat of the Manipur Pony, which is part of the greater biodiversity of the region.

The Marjing Polo Complex

  • The Marjing Polo Complex has been developed as a way to conserve the Manipur Pony. The state government's Manipur Pony Conservation and Development Policy 2016 refers to the mythology around the Manipur Pony.
  • The construction of the 122-foot statue is a step towards developing the Marjing Pony Sanctuary into a tourist destination. However, some are skeptical about the development of the complex, stating that the need of the hour is to restore the natural habitat of the Manipur Pony, which is part of the greater biodiversity of the region.

The inauguration of the 122-foot-tall statue of a polo player astride a Manipur Pony in Imphal, Manipur, is a step towards conserving the Manipur Pony, a horse breed with a powerful cultural significance for Manipuri society. The small and dwindling numbers of the Manipur Pony has been a cause for concern. The Marjing Polo Complex is a way to conserve the breed and develop the Marjing Pony Sanctuary into a tourist destination. However, some are skeptical about the development of the complex, stating that the need of the hour is to restore the natural habitat of the Manipur Pony, which is part of the greater biodiversity of the region. The Manipur Pony has a deep cultural significance for Manipuri society and is celebrated in oral tradition, ballads, and rituals. It has been used for centuries in the game of Polo, which originated in Manipur. It is important to balance the conservation efforts with the preservation of the natural habitat and culture of the Manipur Pony. The Marjing Polo Complex and the statue of a polo player astride a Manipur Pony serves as a reminder of the rich cultural heritage and history of the region and the need to preserve it for future generations.

 

 

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