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USHA International Revives Manipur's Traditional Sport 'Thang Ta' Among Youngsters

USHA International Revives Manipur's Traditional Sport 'Thang Ta' Among Youngsters

India is a land of diverse cultures. From food, clothing and language to religious and socio-cultural belief, India is a rich tapestry of diversities. But there's one thread of unity that binds communities together - sports. Indigenous sports & games have always been an integral part of India's history. They have influenced, and been influenced by, the culture of the region. Sports were a form of social interaction, they helped build life skills, they were good for both the health & the environment, and now they serve to connect us with our roots.

USHA acknowledges the importance of such traditional and indigenous sports and sees them as agents of change. USHA, along with the Silai school women have been able to understand the importance of such community participation, and the role these traditional sports play as agents of economic and cultural prosperity. Imphal, the capital of Manipur, is known as one of the sports hubs of the country that has produced many champions. Sports is a way of life here, and now USHA International has chipped in to promote an indigenous sport of Manipur that is fast dying Thang-Ta.

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USHA international supported a two-day Thang-Ta competition. Also known as Huyen Langlon, Thang Ta is an ancient martial art from Manipur. USHA's support to this event was part of its commitment to nurturing local communities and sports at the grassroots level, while also promoting a healthy and active lifestyle. The event was organised by The Malem Apunba Thang-Ta Maheikol and People's Development Society, with young girls and boys amongst the 80 contestants. A majority of the participants were children of women from USHA's Silai schools in Imphal East and Imphal West, which were set up in 2013 with the aim of empowering women in the area to become entrepreneurs once they learned sewing.

For long, USHA International has been promoting a wide array of sporting initiatives across the country, including its long-standing association with the Mumbai Indians IPL team, Ultimate Flying Disc, indigenous Indian sports such as Kalaripayattu, Mallakhamb, Saz-Loung, Siat Khnam, cricket for the specially-abled, sports for visually challenged as well as football. Supporting Thang-Ta is the newest initiative of USHA international. Legend has it that the origin of Thang-ta goes as far back as the 17th century.

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The most popular Metei martial art in Manipur, Thang Ta uses swords and spears, and is dedicated to fighting skills and worship. It is part of the great heroic tradition of Manipur, and according to a local legend, all movements of the Manipuris originated from Thang Ta. The proper name for Thang-Ta is Huyen Lallong which translates to, ‘method of safe-guarding'. As the name suggests, Huyen Lallong is more than just the training of fighting skills. It is an elaborate system of physical culture that involves breathing methods, meditations, and rituals. At the heart of Thang-Ta is the sword, and there are literally hundreds of different sword drills for training in basic strokes and stepping patterns.

The Thang-Ta spear forms are more complicated and must be seen to be appreciated. Three warriors, Paona Naol Singh, Ningthoukhongja Poila, Loukrakpam Sana Mityeng are credited with founding a distinct style within the art of THANG-TA. Paona died fighting the British and is still regarded as a hero in Manipur. Thanga-ta teacher, Roshan Longjamba said, At first it was only a cultural art form. From the time of king Chandrakriti Maharaj , the Guru late Major Paona started teaching to train by using a stick instead of sword . Around 1880, Thang –Ta as a martial art started to be taught.

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From the time of Tanga –Ta being practised as a cultural form to its indigenous sport form, the number of students has gradually decreased as we don't have proper infrastructure and facilities for the development of these indigenous sports. With mainstream sports disciplines being hugely popular and Manipuri athletes doing well in the national and international arena, a relatively lesser known indigenous sport like Thang Ta isn't attracting young talent from the state – it is seen as having not much scope for growth. The Thanga-ta competition was held in four categories – sub junior boy and girls and junior boys and girls. It was also live-streamed on USHA's Instagram and Facebook pages so more people could see it.

For Thang Ta to hold its own amidst more glamorous and lucrative mainstream sports, enthusiasts say it needs a lot of support. And that is what USHA is trying to do in Manipur with a sport that teaches children skills not possible to teach within the walls of a classroom. The four gold medalists, Mangte Chan Chan Kom in the junior girls category, Sapam Naresh in junior boys, Konjengbam Yaiphaba in the sub-junior boys, and Oinam Zurich in the sub-junior girls category, were awarded prizes from USHA International along with mementos and certificates.

With the local MLA, Thangjam Arunkumar Singh in attendance, felicitating the winners, the event was a huge morale booster for the young Thanga-ta players. With valuable support coming in from USHA, there is hope once again that the ancient martial art form will get the revival in popularity it so desperately needs.

Also Read: USHA With NGOs In West Bengal Help Women Generate Income Through Traditional Stitching Art Forms

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Do you want to be a part of the huge change that Usha Silai School is bringing about in the lives of millions of rural women? With just a simple click of a button, you can now contribute towards the opening of an Usha Silai School or support various other aspects of the school.

About the Initiative

About the Initiative

Kushalta Ke Kadam, an initiative by NDTV and USHA, aims at empowering women from rural India and encourages them to become entrepreneurs by taking up sewing and training others in their respective communities. Since 2011 Usha Silai Campaign has trained more than 3.95 lakh rural women within five years, with 17,000 Silai schools, spanning over 9272 Indian villages in India.

 

Kushalta Ke Kadam in Season 4 has returned with new goals and vision. The new season will witness the establishment of the new cluster in Kashmir, apart from the existing four clusters setup last year. The women from volatile Kashmir will work with well-known fashion designer Rohit Bal and get an unique opportunity to learn from him and make clothes for him. The work done by the Silai School women will be presented at Lakme Fashion week 2019.

 

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In Pics

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching
Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Rebari girls grow up learning traditional embroidery, which along with their new found sewing skills developed at Usha Silai Schools, is helping them earn a living.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Usha Silai School has empowered many rural women to support their family and send their children to school.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

The Usha Silai School, established in a small nondescript village that goes by the name of Kottai, is helping empower people from varied communities.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

The all-inclusive Usha Silai School Programme covers the entire nation from hamlets tucked between hills to villages cast by the sea.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Vegetables farmers from the Mizoram hills earn very little given the topography of the area. Usha Silai Schools have played an important part in this region by skilling women to financially contribute towards their households.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Usha Silai School learner Lucy has trained seven other women in her community, helping them to become financially independent.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Women like Kaviben from the nomadic Rebari community are finally laying down their roots as they begin to gain financial independence and thereby stability through Usha Silai School.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Usha Silai School, located in the Gujarat's Bhuj village, is enabling rural women to earn as much as Rs. 2,500-4,000 each month.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Usha Silai School, in association with a Gujarat based NGO called Kala Raksha, is trying to bring about a Silai revolution in Bhuj.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Besides training other women from their community, many Usha Silai School learners have become entrepreneurs in their own right.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

With sewing becoming easily accessible and lucrative, the silai schools are also helping revive traditional motifs and designs.

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