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New Year sun shines on Manipur
- Violence-scarred state prays for peace and prosperity

Imphal, April 7: Prayers for peace and protection were on every lip as violence-hit Manipur celebrated Cheiraoba or the Meitei New Year’s Day today.

“I prayed to the gods to take away all the bad things from Manipur and shower all the good things this New Year,” said Rani Devi, a young housewife, after the Cheiraoba prayer ritual.

The message of peace started circulating on mobile phones since early morning as family, friends and even strangers exchanged text messages.

“I received 35 messages, all calling for peace, from friends and unknown persons,” said Abungcha Meitei, a teenager from Sagolband in Imphal West.

As people prayed for a peaceful and prosperous New Year, every household appeased the godswith a sumptuous feast.

Married women visited their parental homes to present gifts to their relatives and wish them prosperity.

The festival comes at a time when the state is reeling under the impact of recent incidents of uninterrupted violence.

Slogan-shouting women on Saturday marched through the streets of Imphal demanding state protection following the recent spurt in violence against women in Manipur.

The killing of 15 non-Manipuris on the eve of Holi and during the Yaoshang festival last month and the subsequent imposition of night curfew had restricted the five-day-long celebrations.

The 9pm-to-5am curfew also spoiled the exhilaration of the Thabal Chongba dance, an important part of Yaoshang and Cheiraoba.

Extending greetings and good wishes to the people of Manipur on Cheiraoba, President Pratibha Patil said: “May this festival bring happiness, prosperity and well-being to you all.May the celebrations promote values of tolerance and acceptance and strengthen traditional bonds of amity, understanding and harmony.”

She is the first President to send greetings to the people of Manipur on Cheiraoba. Manipur. Governor S.S. Sidhu and chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh also wished peace and prosperity to the people troubled state on the occasion.

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