Sandrembi Chaisra

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Sandrembi Cheishra.jpg

"Sandrembi Chaisra" (Meitei: ꯁꯟꯗ꯭ꯔꯦꯝꯕꯤ ꯆꯥꯢꯁ꯭ꯔꯥ), also known as "Sanarembi Chaisra" (Meitei: ꯁꯅꯔꯦꯝꯕꯤ ꯆꯥꯢꯁ꯭ꯔꯥ), is a folktale of the Meitei ethnicity of Ancient Manipur (Antique Kangleipak).[1] It is a story of the two stepsisters, Sandrembi, the elder and Chaisra, the younger, born to the same father but from different mothers.[2][3] The protagonist is Sandrembi, a young lady, living in forsaken environment, that are changed into a remarkable fortune.[4][5]

Sandrembi giving drinking water to His Highness.jpg

She is considered to be a person having the nature of God like mind.[6][7]

The folk legend is considered a perfect combination of the "Cinderella" and "The Three Oranges".[8][9]

Story[change | change source]

In the Haya Chak Era, when King Sentreng Apanba reigned in Antique Kangleipak (Ancient Manipur), he had a nobleman named Khulen Nganba who had two wives, the senior named Yangkhuleima (Yangkhureima, Yaibireima or Yaipileima) and the junior named Sangkhuleima (Sankhureima). By the grace of God, the elder one had a daughter named Sandrembi (Sanarembi) ("and also boy" in another version) and the younger one had only one daughter named Chaisra (Cheisra).[2][3] The father died after sometime. The two widows used to go to market for selling vegetables and go to Shilempat (Shilem lake) to catch fish for livelihood. Sangkhuleima, the younger widow always thought of ways to harm Yangkhuleima, the elder one. One day, it so happened that Yangkhuleima (the elder) caught all types of fish but Sangkhuleima (the younger) caught some snakes and reptiles and not a single fish. Both of them took rest under a fig tree. She grew envious of the fate of the elder one and climbed up the fig tree for plucking the fruits.[3] Once or twice she dropped the fig fruits to the elder one who partook of the juice. At last, the latter was made to close her eyes and open her mouth to swallow the most delicious fruit. Then she poured the snakes from her fish basket. The poor woman swallowed them and died on account of snake bite. Sangkhuleima came down and pushed the dead body of Yangkhuleima into the deep water of the lake. It got transformed into a tortoise (or turtle). Everybody was shocked to hear from Sangkhuleima, the younger co-wife, about news of the tragic death of Yangkhuleima, the elder widow by drowning. In another version of the story, Sangkhuleima told others that stubborn Yangkhuleima didn't want to return home and insisted on staying to catch fish until sunset.[2]

The younger widow and her daughter Chaisra (Cheisra) began to maltreat lovely Sandrembi (Shanarembi). One night, Yangkhuleima appeared in the dream of her daughter, Sandrembi, and revealed the crime committed by the stepmother. She further instructed Sandrembi to bring her (tortoise form) from the lake and keep her in a pitcher for five days without any break so that she may re-assume human form. Sandrembi did so but before the completion of the five days, Chaisra, the younger step sister, got the knowledge of the tortoise and so, she pretended to be ill in her bed. When Yangkhuleima, her mother came to her, she said that tortoise meat would cure her. "Get that tortoise which Sandrembi had caught from the lake. Boil it for cooking." The stepmother forced poor Sandrembi to boil the tortoise. Sandrembi tried to take away the fuel stick (on hearing the tortoise mother's words from the boiling pan/pot) but she could not save her mother (tortoise) before them.[10]

Chaisra and her mother devoured the tortoise meat to their heart's content and threw away the bones in the verandah. Again Yangkhuleima, the tortoise mother told Sandrembi in her dream to keep the bones of tortoise in a basket after covering it by a piece of cloth and it must not be opened for 7 days. Sandrembi did so. However, before the completion of the said period, out of her anxiety as well as curiosity, she opened the basket and thereby disturbing the normal process of coming to human shape. The tortoise mother assumed the shape of a sparrow and flew away. Both stepsisters grew up in course of time. Sandrembi, the elder, was beautiful and accomplished but not nicely dressed up. Chaisra, the younger, was ugly although properly dressed. Once the King ("Crown Prince" in another version) went for hunting with a large retinue, horses and elephants. The king saw the two maidens by a riverside.[10] Realising the quality of Sandrembi, the elder, the king made her the chief Queen after a ceremonial marriage. She spent her life with her brother in a joyous mood. A son was also born to her, the boy was named Machi Sana Melei Khomba in Meitei sacred lores. Sangkhuleima, the stepmother and Chaisra, the step sister gnashed their teeth in anger and were planning to kill the Queen. They invited her for a dinner in their house. Sandrembi came to her stepmother's house with permission of the King. After the dinner, Chaisra, the younger, out of jealousy, dropped the Queen's dress under a bed ("in a hole" in another version). When Sandrembi went down to bring it up, the wicked stepmother poured the hottest water over Queen Sandrembi's body.[11] Poor Queen got transformed into a pigeon and flew away. Chaisra, in the Queen's dress, went to the palace and behaved as if she was the real queen. The suspected king told her in anger, "You are not my queen whose face is as fair as the lily. You are disfigured." Chaisra replied that she contracted mental and physical agony when she wept for her son. The king again continued, "You are not my queen for your nose is too long, your eyes are very deep and the hairs of the eyelids are bushy." Chaisra replied, "I missed you so much, I cried rubbing my eyes all the way." In spite of his suspicion, the King wanted suitable opportunity in order to detect the false queen. In the meantime, the pigeon flew into the Royal Garden, perched on a tree branch and addressed to the Royal Gardener ("grass cutter" in another version) concerning the forgetfulness of the King about Queen Sandrembi, animal epidemic, grievances of the Prince and loss of his own sickle along with a warning for reporting these words to the king. The king on getting the report went in search of the pigeon with grains of paddy in his hands. The King kept the supernatural bird in his palace. Even as a bird, she took away the dirty things from the Prince's eyes. Chaisra killed the bird with a stick and prepared a nice meal for the King.[11] The king refused to taste the flesh of the pet bird and threw it away and buried it behind the Royal Kitchen. But it was the age of the truth and there grew a lucious fruit plant and it bore full of fruits overnight ("only one fruit" in another version). A big lucious fruit also came from the plant. Chaisra, the false queen gave the lucious fruit as a gift to a monk ("servant" in another version). The man kept the fruit in a jar in his house since the same was not yet ripe enough to be eaten. Later it so happened to him that fruit disappeared when the knife was available and vice versa. Early next morning, he went out for work. Returning home, he was surprised to find that his cottage had been washed and the meal cooked. He kept the mystery concealed for some days and was determined to solve it by all means. Long before the first streak of day light came, he got up and had gone some distance secretly in the darkness and entered the cottage silently and peeped into his own room. At Sunrise, he saw a beautiful woman coming out of the jar and roaming in kitchen for house work. "It is a fruit maiden", he muttered. Recognising her as the Queen, he took her to the king. There was a quarrel between Sandrembi and Chaisra, the two step sisters on the issue of the identity of the real Queen. The obstinate Chaisra denied the whole story and called Sandrembi to be a "fruit maiden".[11]

At long last, the king decided to settle the case by appealing to a divine ordeal. The two had to fight a duel with swords. As per the code, the defendant was allowed to use a bright and sharp sword but the plaintiff (Sandrembi) had to use a rusty knife ("wooden knife" in another version) for on her part laid the burden of proof. It was thought that if justice was really on her, she would win inspite of using a rusty sword. Chaisra had no belief in the trial by ordeal and was hopeful that she would be able to kill her rival with one stroke. Her demand for use of the bright sword was a legitimate one. The blunt and rusty sword (or "wooden sword") was given to Sandrembi for she had to prove her own case. Sandrembi, the elder had the faith in her, "If I am innocent, may Chaisra's sword become harmless to me." In the arena, while Chaisra hewed and hacked at her with the sword, Sandrembi remained unhurt. Suddenly, the blunt sword of its own accord, slipped out of Sandrembi's hand and chopped off Chaisra's neck. In another version of the story, there was no fighting between them. Sandrembi, the elder pardoned Chaisra, the younger. Both of them lived together as chief queen and younger queen respectively in great happiness.[11]

Editions[change | change source]

  • In 1978, the folk legend was reproduced into a book by N. Manijao.[12]
  • In 1993, the folktale was re-written by Memchaubi and published by Aribam Samarendra.[13]

Gallery[change | change source]

Sangkhuleima and Yangkhuleima.jpg
Sangkhuleima pouring the snakes over Yangkhuleima.jpg
Sangkhuleima stealing the fishes of Yangkhuleima after killing her.jpg
Sandrembi getting her mother Yangkhuleima in the form of a tortoise.jpg
Sandrembi getting panic on seeing her tortoise mother Yangkhuleima about to die.jpg
His Highness and his subjects.jpg
Sandrembi and Chaisra going to fetch water.jpg
Sandrembi and Chaisra going to fetch water 2.jpg
Sandrembi being taken away by His Highness while Cheisra got jealous of this.jpg

Bibliography[change | change source]

  • Sandrembi Chaishra - A Manipuri Folk Tale - by Bonny Elangbam
  • Ibomaca, Yumalembama (2017). Come Out Sandrembi, We Will Make a Grandiose Home for You. Manipur State Kala Akademi. ISBN 978-81-908813-1-9.

Related pages[change | change source]

Other websites[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Beck, Brenda E.F.; Claus, Peter J.; Goswami, Praphulladatta; Handoo, Jawaharlal (1999-04-15). Folktales of India. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-04083-7.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Beck, Brenda E.F.; Claus, Peter J.; Goswami, Praphulladatta; Handoo, Jawaharlal (1999-04-15). Folktales of India. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-04083-7.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Meitei, Sanjenbam Yaiphaba; Chaudhuri, Sarit K.; Arunkumar, M. C. (2020-11-25). The Cultural Heritage of Manipur. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-00-029629-7.
  4. Chakravarty, Kalyan Kumar (1994). Bharatiya Parivara: Manushya Ke Astitva Ke Lie Vaikalpika Soca. Indirā Gāndhī Rāshṭrīya Mānava Saṅgrahālaya.
  5. Lal, Ananda; Lal, Reader in English Ananda (2004). The Oxford Companion to Indian Theatre. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-564446-3.
  6. Singh, Moirangthem Kirti (1980). Religious Developments in Manipur in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Manipur State Kala Akademi.
  7. MacDonald, Margaret Read; Sturm, Brian W. (2001). The Storyteller's Sourcebook: A Subject, Title, and Motif Index to Folklore Collections for Children, 1983-1999. Gale Group. ISBN 978-0-8103-5485-2.
  8. Handoo, Jawaharlal; Siikala, Anna-Leena (1999). Folklore and Discourse. Zooni Publications. ISBN 978-81-7342-054-2.
  9. Amos, Dan Ben (2011-05-01). Folktales of the Jews, V. 3 (Tales from Arab Lands. Jewish Publication Society. ISBN 978-0-8276-0871-9.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Beck, Brenda E.F.; Claus, Peter J.; Goswami, Praphulladatta; Handoo, Jawaharlal (1999-04-15). Folktales of India. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-04083-7.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 "Sandrembi and Chaisra". e-pao.net. Retrieved 2021-09-03.
  12. Kabui, Gangmumei (2004). The History of the Zeliangrong Nagas: From Makhel to Rani Gaidinliu. Spectrum Publications. ISBN 978-81-87502-76-0.
  13. "Sandrembi Cheishra Book Review By James Oinam". www.e-pao.net. Retrieved 2021-09-03.
ꯈꯨꯅꯨ ꯂꯩꯃ, ꯁꯄꯤ ꯂꯩꯃ ꯑꯃꯁꯨꯡ ꯉꯥꯅꯨ ꯂꯩꯃ.jpg

Meitei mythology & folklore

Mythic Texts and Folktales:
Numit Kappa | Moirang Kangleirol | Moirang Shayon | Khamba Thoibi | Sandrembi Chaisra
Fungawari Singbul | Funga Wari
Divinities:
Maikei Ngaakpa Lais | Leimalel | Sanamahi
Emoinu | Panthoipi
Legendary Creatures:
Dragons | Helloi | Hingchabi | Keibu Keioiba | Khoirentak tiger | Samadon Ayangba | Uchek Langmeidong
Mythical and Sacred Places:
Lai Lamlen | Khamnung | Kangla | Mt. Koupalu | Nongmaiching Hills | Thangching Hills