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Manipuri Folk Tales: Khamba Thoibi
The most popular Manipuri folk tales is that of princess Thoibi and Khamba. Both Khamba Thoibi lived during the first half of the 12th century.
The story runs that Khamba was the son of a great Moirang(place in Manipur) officer. His parents died when he was a child. His sister Khammu brought him up by begging from door to door and doing menial labour at the houses of the rich. Thoibi was the only daughter of the king’s brother. The king and his brother, Chingkhuba had no male kids.
By chance both Thoibi and Khamba met one day and fell in love with each other. They promised that they would marry. On the occasion of offering flower to God Thangjing and to the king, the king promised, he would give Thoibi to Khamba in marriage.
Kongyamba, who was the son of a great officer of the king and was influential and prominent,loved princess Thoibi. She on the other hand, did not love him at all. Rather she hated him. On the occasion of Ukai-Kappa, Chingkhuba, father of Thoibi became very angry with Thoibi’s lover, Khamba. He became so angry that he promised that he would give his daughter to Kongyamba in marriage. Meanwhile Thoibi became adamantly resolved to be the wife of Khamba and did not consent to her father’s proposal.
For her disobedience Chingkhuba exiled her to Kabo. An attempt also was made by Chingkhuba to kill Khamba in collusion with Kongyamba, but they failed as Thoibi intervened. The attempt was known as “Shamoo-Khongyetpa”. Chingkhuba excused her and ordered Kongyamba to take her to his house from her way home from exile. Accordingly, Kongyamba met her and while he was taking her to his house Thoibi feigned illness and rode on a pony by means to eloped to Khamba’s house.
Soon, Kongyamba made a false charge against Khamba alleging that Khamba abducted Thoibi from his house and lodged the complaint to the king’s Darbar. The king, his brother and other ministers tried the case and decided that Khamba and Kongyamba should throw spears against each other from a distance and the one who would be killed would be the one in the wrong, and the surviving one would marry Thoibi.
While preparation for this was being made, a report was received that a tiger had eaten a small girl at Khoirentak. Hearing the report, one minister suggested that these two rivals should be told to catch the tiger, and the one who would succeed should marry Thoibi. All agreed. Both Khamba and Kongyamba entered the enclosure to catch the tiger with spears in their hands but Kongyamba was killed by the tiger and Khamba captured it.
Khamba married Thoibi and was appointed to nine big posts. Shortly after one night Khamba in order to test the chastity of Thoibi had entered his house in disguise but Thoibi killed him with a spear thinking that a stranger had come to pollute her chastity. Finding that she had killed her own beloved husband, she committed suicide then and there .
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The most popular Manipuri folk tales is that of princess Thoibi and Khamba.
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Manipur folklores are repleted with references to a variety of the hills and the plains.
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