Traditional Games & Sports

polo_in_manipur.jpgThe state of Manipur is known for several games that were indigenously developed over a period of time. They also trace their origin to ancient times. Take a look at them:

Thang TA & Sarit Sarak

This is Manipuri Martial Arts, that has percolated down to generations. In the olden days when every Manipuri was a warrior who is required to serve his country at the time of war. It is a very energetic and skillful art and is a way to hone one's battlecraft during the peace time. However, practice is required and only the brave and athletic can excel. even in the present day, players are supposed to adhere to strict rules of the game.

Khong Kangjei

Like polo, Khong Kangjei, is also a very popular game for the Manipuris. The game is played with seven players on either side and each player is equipped with a bamboo stick measuring 4ft. in length made in the form of modern hockey stick. The game is started with a throw of the ball made of bamboo root in the field of 200 x 80 yards in area. A player may carry the ball in any manner to the goal, he may even kick it but he has to score the goal only by hitting the ball with his stick.

There is no goal post and a goal is scored when the ball crosses the goal line fully. A player often encounters with an opponent in his attempt at carrying or hitting the ball towards the goal. The encounter may develop into a trial of strength which is indigenously known as Mukna. the game requires much physical stamina, speed and agility. In the olden days players excelling in the game received royal favors and prizes. 

Yubi Lakpi

This is Manipuri rugby and its name comes from -"Yubi", Manipuri for coconut and "Lakpi" meaning snatching. Players play in teams of seven on either side and are supposed to score goals in order to win. It is played in a field that is about 45 x 18 meters in area. One end of the field has a rectangular box 4.5 x 3 mtrs. One side of which forms the central portion of the goal line. To score a goal a player has to approach the goal from the front with his oiled coconut and pass the goal line. The coconut serves the purpose of a ball and is offered to the king or the judges who sit just beyond the goal line. It is played on the beautiful green turf of the palace ground, or at the Bijoy Govinda Temple Ground. 

Hiyang Tanaba

It is generally held in the month of November at Thangapat. The boats called Hiyang Hiren is regarded to be invested with spiritual powers and the game is associated with religious rites. The Meiteis believe that worship of the Hiyang Hiren will negate evil omens. The rowers don traditional dresses and head gears. The game is also conducted during the times of natural calamity. 


A game testing sheer physical strength and skill of the participants is Mukna, the Manipuri style of wrestling played between two male rivals and is a highly popular and prestigious game. In the olden days the game enjoyed royal patronage. Athletes of the same or approximately the same physical built weight and, age are made rivals. The game is an absolute must for the closing ceremonies of the Lai Haraoba festival.

Sagol Kangjei

 The British learned the Manipuri Sagol Kangjei in the 19th Century from Manipur and after refinement it was taken to other countries as Polo. The 'PUYAS' trace it to the mythological age when the game was played by gods. The game is now played in two styles - the PANA or original Manipuri style and the International style i.e. Polo. The ponies are decorated fully with various guards protecting the eyes, forehead, flanks etc.

It is played with 7 players on each side mounted on ponies which are often not more than 4/5 feet in height. Each player is outfitted with a polo stick made of cane having a narrow angled wooden head fixed at the striking end. The ball, 14 inches in circumference is made of bamboo root. It is exhilarating to see the Manipuri players in their sixties and even seventies riding ponies at full gallop and playing Sagol Kangjei with gusto. The mounted players hit the ball into the goal.


This game is played strictly during the period between 'Cheiraoba' (Manipuri New Year's day) and the Rath Yatra festival on the mud floor of a big out-house. The game is all about hitting fixed targets with "Kang", a flat and oblong instrument made of either ivory or lac. It is played in teams usually having 7 male partners. The game is also played as a mixed-doubles contest.
However, Manipuri religiously adhere to its time-frame as popular belief holds that if the game is played beyond its given limit, evil spirits invade the mind of players and spectators. 

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