Meitei Christians

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The Meitei Christians are a Christian movement based in Manipur, in India.

William Pettigrew[edit]

Coming of British in Manipur is the beginning of Christianity in Manipur, but foundation was not laying down during early 1819s till the coming of William Pettigrew in 1894. Here we found some reasonable that, Why British authority so much concerned Christianity in Manipur was as follows:

1) Manipuri king become a puppet king,no socio-political influence as well as religious authority as early did.

2) British thought that Meitei has to civilized by adopting Christianity under the civilizing mission theory etc.

Christianity in Manipur can traced back to an Anglican named William Pettigrew, who lived in India when Surchandra Singh was the maharaja of Manipur. Pettigrew, who was born in Edinburgh and educated in London, applied to work with the Arthington Aboriginals Mission in India and travelled to Bengal in 1890, he worked for two years in Dhaka and Silchar. In 1891, Pettigrew applied for permission to work in Manipur, but this was not granted until 1894, he worked for a time as a teacher in Imphal, teaching the children of government civil servants and soon afterwards opened a school for boys in Manipuri and established a permanent mission station there.

Pettigrew’s evangelistic work among the Meitei people in Manipur caused difficulties because of the sensitive political situation there and the more political extreme Hindus complained that he was trying to impose Christianity upon the state; the British authorities withdrew their support and his Arthington Mission sponsors proved unwilling to help him in establishing a mission station. Not wanting to return to England, he applied for membership to the American Baptist Missionary Union in Assam and, after becoming a Baptist, was designated as a Baptist missionary to Manipur, he went on to establish other mission schools within the Ukhrul District.[1]

Christianity in Manipur[edit]

The name of the first Meitei to convert to Christianity is unknown, it is traditionally believed that Angom Porom Singh of Phayeng was the first to be converted, but another tradition says that Ningol Kaboklei met a Christian missionary in Sylhet (presently in Bangladesh) and embraced Christianity in around 1893, a few years earlier than the arrival of William Pettigrew. Those claiming that Porom Singh was the first Christian convert, have intentionally ignored the other tradition about Kaboklei, it may well be true that Kaboklei was the first Manipur Christian.

During this time, attempts were made to force the Christians to renounce their faith and return to Hinduism, they petitioned the government for land and an area in Thangmeiband was granted to them to build homes.

Some theological scholars believe that Porom Singh was baptized on 3 January 1896. On that date, Pettigrew baptized his first Meitei convert at the watering Morangkhom Hiden Tapham. Porom Singh would have been only about eleven or twelve at the time and it is possible that such a public act would have caused uproar. After his baptism, Porom Singh left Imphal with Pettigrew and functioned as Pettigrew's right-hand man at Ukhrul. In December 1912, he became the headmaster of a school at Ukhrul, where his teaching responsibilities included preaching the gospel, he was one of only seven Christians who stood by Pettigrew. At the outbreak of the First World War, he helped Pettigrew to raise a labour corps, later becoming a corps leader and an interpreter, he received excellent testimonials when he served in France and on his return to India, was exempted from house tax.

Watkins R. Robert, a Welsh Presbyterian missionary, came to southern Manipur to as a gospel preacher; the local people called him Pu Tlangval ('Sir Youngman'), as he was only twenty-four when he first came to Manipur. Today, the Baptists are found in the northwest and northeast of Manipur, while the majority of Presbyterians are found in the southwest of Manipur, as a result of the missionary work of Roberts. Other, smaller denominational Christians are to be found among the Meitei community.

The modern movement[edit]

The Meitei Christians from Manipur and north-east India are of different denominations, such as Baptist, Presbyterian and Evangelical; the history of Christians among the Meitei community only started to well known in the 1960s.

When Christianity was first adopted among the Meitei communities, both the belief system and the theological teaching were based upon biblical teaching; the practice of the Christian faith in present times has changed considerably. There are approximately between 75,000 and 100,000 Meitei Christians in India, and around 2,000 churches.

When Hinduism came to Manipur and was adopted by the Meiteis, it was creatively adopted such as Raj Leela, which was promoted by Rabhindranath Takhur, which further helped in expansion of Hindu religion. Similarly, when Meiteis adopt Christianity, it is done as contextually acceptable to indigenous culture, as a tradition of the community. Definitely, a kind of Christianity as different from the practice of Christianity in the hill areas; some of the churches in Meitei villages (for instance, the tiny Meitei Christian group of 800 to 1000 people from Kakching) have helped transform the lives of local people.


  1. ^ Kangla Online Education in Tangkhul Nagas Region Retrieved on 18 June 2007
  • Moirangthem Madhu Chandra, A Brief Account of Meitei Christians
  • Moirangthem Premjit Singh, "The origin of Christianity and its impact in Manipurni etiety."