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King of the Underworld
God of the Dead
Member of Lainingthous
Other names
  • Thongalel
  • Thongaren
  • Thongarel
AffiliationMeitei mythology (Manipuri mythology) and Meitei religion (Sanamahism)
AbodeUnderworld (Meitei: Khamnung)
RegionAncient Kangleipak (Antique Manipur)
Ethnic groupMeitei ethnicity
FestivalsLai Haraoba
Personal information
Greek equivalentHades
Roman equivalentPluto
Hinduism equivalentYama[1][2]

Thongalen (also Thongalel, Thongaren or Thongarel) is the god of the dead and the king of the underworld (Meitei: Khamnung) in Meitei mythology and religion. He is worshipped by the people in Ancient Kangleipak (Antique Manipur).[3][4][5][6][7][8][9] He is the Guardian God of the nadir.[10] He is the ancestor-God of the Khuman clan of Meitei people.[11] Laikhurembi and Lainaotabi are his wives.[12]

The Pakhangba Nonggarol (Old Manipuri: Pakhangpa Nongkalol) says the God of death is called "Leinung Thongarel" (Old Manipuri: Leinung Thongalel).[13]

Mythology[change | change source]

In the Poireiton Khunthok[change | change source]

King Thongaren (Old Manipuri: Thongalen) asked his highest ranked Queen Laikhurembi (Old Manipuri: Laikhulempi) to go with his brother Poireiton on a long trip. Poireiton was a widower; his wife had died, and he had six children to raise and also had to go to the Tai Pang Pan. King Thongalel thought his brother needed a wife to go with him on their trip.[14] However, Queen Laikhurembi did not want to go. She said she was already the king's wife. Trees had already been planted in her honor because she and the king had lived together for a very long time. So, instead of Queen Laikhurembi, King Thongalel sent his second wife, Leinaotabi, to go with Poireiton and be his wife.[15]

In the Pombi Luwaoba[change | change source]

Nongban Pombi Luwaoba was a prince in the Luwang dynasty. A dynasty is a line of kings or queens who are all related to each other in the same family. Prince Nongban Pombi Luwaoba and his wife Namoinu were happy. Then she died suddenly. She died because of the God Thongalel. Prince Pombi Luwaoba refused to perform the funeral of her dead body. He hoped the God Thongalel would send her soul back into her body so she would be alive again. God Thongalel received a message from the prince through a pheasant bird. The message said that Prince Nongban Pombi Luwaoba was ready to fight God Thongalel if he did not send Namoinu's soul back. This made the God Thongalel angry. He sent two of his brothers, but Prince Nongban Pombi Luwaoba beat them both. He took them prisoner. Prince Nongban Pombi Luwaoba sent the pheasant bird with another message to God Thongalel. The message said that if the God wanted to get back his brothers alive, then he had to sent back the soul of Namoinu to her body.[16]

Finally, God Thongalel came to meet Prince Pombi Luwaoba himself. But instead of fighting, the prince prayed to the God Himself. God Thongalel was happy that Prince Nongban Pombi Luwaoba showed him respect. Thongalel brought Namoinu back to life. He also gave her a gift: She would live for 100 years and have 100 sons.[17]

Association with other deities[change | change source]

God Thongalel is sometimes identified as God Wangpurel (Old Manipuri: Wangpulel). Thongalel is the King of underworld. Wangpurel reigns over the direction south. Some Meiteis believe that the direction south is the land of death. So, when the Meiteis got converted into Hinduism, both Thongalel and Wangpulel became counterparts of Hindu God Yama.[18]

References[change | change source]

  1. Elangbam Nilakanta (1982). Aspects of Indian Culture. Jawaharlal Nehru Manipur Dance Academy.
  2. Glimpses of Manipuri Language, Literature, and Culture - Page 19 - 1970
  3. Neelabi, sairem (2006). Laiyingthou Lairemmasinggee Waree Seengbul (in Manipuri). p. 174.
  4. Mehrotra, Deepti Priya (2009-07-08). Burning Bright Irom Sharmila. Penguin UK. ISBN 978-81-8475-153-6.
  5. The North Eastern Geographer. North East India Geographical Society. 1980.
  6. Medieval Indian Literature: An Anthology. Sahitya Akademi. 1997. p. 385. ISBN 9788126003655.
  7. Contributions to Southeast Asian Ethnography. Board of Editors, Contributions to Southeast Asian Ethnography. 1982.
  8. Singh, Wahengbam Ibohal (1986). The History of Manipur: An early period. Manipur Commercial Company.
  9. Commission, India Indian Historical Records (1976). Proceedings of the Meetings of the Session. Manager of Publications.
  10. Neelabi, sairem (2006). Laiyingthou Lairemmasinggee Waree Seengbul (in Manipuri). p. 181.
  11. Sanajaoba, Naorem (1988). Manipur, Past and Present: The Heritage and Ordeals of a Civilization. Mittal Publications. ISBN 978-81-7099-853-2.
  12. Ray, Asok Kumar; Chakraborty, Satyabrata (2008). Society, Politics, and Development in North East India: Essays in Memory of Dr. Basudeb Datta Ray. Concept Publishing Company. ISBN 978-81-8069-572-8.
  14. Singh, Wahengbam Ibohal. The History Of Manipur. p. 245.
  15. Singh, Wahengbam Ibohal. The History Of Manipur. p. 246.
  16. Delhi, All India Radio (AIR), New (1968-03-17). AKASHVANI: Vol. XXXIII, No.12 ( 17 MARCH, 1968 ). All India Radio (AIR),New Delhi.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  17. Delhi, All India Radio (AIR), New (1968-03-17). AKASHVANI: Vol. XXXIII, No.12 ( 17 MARCH, 1968 ). All India Radio (AIR),New Delhi.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  18. Singh, L. Bhagyachandra (1991). A Critical Study Of The Religious Philosophy. p. 109.

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