Vaiphei Tribe, Manipur


Vaiphei Tribe are found mainly in the Churachandpur district in Manipur. Initially they resided in the erstwhile Burma but in the present day the Vaiphei tribe is primarily found in Myanmar and Bangladesh besides Manipur.


Vaiphei Tribe inhabit the Churachandpur district in Manipur. Apart from Manipur, they are also located in different parts of Myanmar and Bangladesh. The origin of the name 'Vaiphei' is still debated but the general understanding is that the name derived from a village called Khawvaiphei in Burma. It is in this place that the Vaiphei tribes have successfully developed a proper settlement for themselves. The Vaipheis are one of the Chin-Kuki-Mizo-Zomi-Hmar tribes and they strongly believe that their ancestors emerged out of Khul, Khur, Sinlung or Chhinlung group.


History of Vaiphei Tribe

It is believed that the Vaiphei tribes left Khawvaiphei and founded Khawzim and prospered there till the Pawis declared war on them. The tribes scattered and Khawzim was completely destroyed. Later theis tribal community settled in Chin Hills and Mizoram. As per legends, the Chief of Ciimnuai was Pu Zahong, the ancestor of the Vaiphei, who was also sometimes referred to as Nuaimangpa.


The earliest known settlements of the Vaipheis include Khawvaiphei, Bungte, Hiangpek, Tuantak, Champhai, Mimbung, Kalzang, Thuklai, Buanman, Tualket, Thiklum, Lamkhai, Zawng in zein, Khawsak, Khawngen, Khawhiang, Zopi, Salem, Tuallian, Bungkhua, Changzal, Khawzim, Khawbual, Vangchik, Vawngzang, Sailuttak, Lophei, Thangkhal, Sialkal, etc. In contemporary times, however, Vaiphei tribe resides mainly in the Churachandpur district of Manipur. They are also scattered in the different parts of North East India, Myanmar and Chittagong Hill tract of Bangladesh.


Society of Vaiphei Tribe

The Vaiphei tribes have their own set of cultural and social traditions. The society is patriarchal and patronymic in nature. The kinship structure is of classification type and one kinship term is used for different categories of relatives. The tribal community is further divided into clans and sub-clans. Though inter clan marriages take place but the clan is primarily endogamous by nature. Each clan is headed by 'Upa' and the law of primogeniture is prevalent as the eldest son inherits father's property.


Agriculture is the main occupation of Vaiphei tribal community. It is practiced through both shifting and wet cultivations.


The social custom of  "Tawmngaihna" and "Kihutuana"  refer to the services provided in times of dire need. The essence of these customs is that they induce a sense of solidarity in the tribal community.


Culture of Vaiphei Tribe

The culture of Vaiphei Tribe includes a number of customs. One such custom is the welcome ceremony of an unborn baby. The ceremony is known as Naoyuneck when the pregnant mother is around seven or eight months due. The birth ceremony of a child is held on the seventh day after he or she is born. The father of the child organises a feast for the villagers. Both young boys and girls pierce their ears with a tough hair of porcupine and black and red thread.


Marriage is considered a sacred act and the perfect bride for the boy is considered to be the daughter of his maternal uncle called Neinu.


As far as rituals related to death are concerned, they are buried with the head facing eastwards. Cooked spleen of cattle, considered the food for the deceased, is also buried along with the dead.


A number of festivals are also celebrated by the Vaiphei tribe. Vaiphei Puandum, Khiangkawi or Chiangkawi and Thansua puan are traditional attires of this tribal community. The important festivals are Sawm zu, Oa ai, Thazinglam, Sa-ai, Bu-ai and lawm zu.



Administration of Vaiphei Tribe

The Vaiphei villages are headed by chiefs known as Khaw Hausa. This is a hereditary post. He is assisted by ministers or Siamang Pachawng. Apart from these there are other officials who are part of the village administration, such as, taangsampu (village crier), Thiik-Seekpu (blacksmith) and Tunpu (hunting commander). There is a village court or Innpi-Vaihawmna where the cases are tried by the village Chief and the ministers.