Introduction / History
The Chothe tribal community are found in some parts of Manipur, India. Some historians and anthropologists had recorded them as "Purums" which is a misnomer. At times the Chothe have been confused with the Purum of India.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Chothe villages form an executive body to administer themselves. Often an opposition group will also be formed to help scrutinize the functioning of the governing body of the village. Whenever a new Chothe village is established, its leaders are elected through competitions participated in by the representatives of each clan of the tribe. Then the posts are distributed according to the merits of the competitors. The governing body of a Chothe village is called "Hloukal." The Hloukal hold its meeting at a meeting place called "Ruisang" built of wood and thatch. There are usually seven different posts in the Chothe village government. Each of these seven posts is held by the seven main clans.
Apart from the Hloukal the Chothes also have another body called the "Loumi" represented by the same clans of the community. The body also has seven posts which are transferable from one clan to another. This body acts as the opposition to the village administration. The Loumi participate in all meetings called by the Hloukal. In general, the Hloukal cannot make important decisions without the consent of the Loumi. The Loumi also has the right to dismiss any member of the Hloukal but only with the support of its own members and the elders of the village. This system of semi-democratic self-administration tradition has always been a part of Chothe history.
Present day Chothe have shunned most all ancient customs and traditions except the system of self-administration and marriage customs, since the advent of Christianity in their midst 60 years ago. They no longer maintain their ancient weapons, tools and dress. The men make baskets of bamboos and the womenfolk collect firewood from the jungles and then sell their products at the nearest market to meet their daily needs. They do practice cultivation and other agricultural works, but most of the paddy fields are owned by the other communities. Poverty is rampant in the Chothe society. They cannot afford education for their children, nor can they afford healthy diet and dresses. High school graduates are rare and the government schools established near their villages are not functioning anymore since there are no teachers.
What Are Their Needs?
The Chothe have no dependable health centers near their villages, so many Chothes have died without medical care. Though most of the Chothe villages are situated a few miles from towns and accessible by roads, they still live without electricity and proper sanitation system.
The Chothe have a unique system of rules regarding who can marry whom. Among the Chothes there are bride-giver clans and bride takers clans. If a man wants to marry he has to take his bride from those clans whose women he was meant to marry. There are seven major clans in the Chothe society community. They are Parpa,Thao, Mareem, Khiyaang, Rangshai, Makan And Yuhlung. For example, a man from the Parpa clan can marry women from the clans of Mareem, Rangshai, Yuhlung but not those from the remaining Thao,Khiyaang, Makan clans. Men from these remaining clans are traditionally destined to marry the Parpa women. A Khiyaang man can marry a Thao woman but a Thao man cannot marry a Khiyaang women. That is, a man cannot give his sisters in marriage to those clans from whom he was supposed to take his bride. However in the present generation, there are many who are breaking these traditional marriage laws. They are fined by the elders and the village authorities in the form of material and money. Because of the traditional marriage laws, many young couples prefer to elope. So, traditional marriages and ceremonies are becoming rare in Chothe society.
Most Chothes are now in name Christian. Yet, they still consult wizards and black-magicians of other communities to sort out their problems and cure their illnesses. This is because, the Chothe society is vulnerable to the outside influence. Before the advent of Christianity, they are recorded to have worshipped even the Hindu deities. Hinduism came to Manipur only in the early 18th century. Today, in some Chothes villages, people drink and dance to the tunes of love songs in the funeral services which is contradictory to the doctrine of Christianity. They do this in the excuse of 'consoling' the bereaved family members of the dead person. What the Chothes need today is a miracle to unite them to Christ. What the Chothes need is salvation from the world of 'tribalism.' Tribalism can be interpreted as 'a larger group harassing the weak tribe and snatching even the right to live from the weak'.
* The society where the Chothes live is infested with tribalism and militancy. The Chothes need prayers to rescue them from this tribalism and from the threats of militancy.
* Most Chothes claim to be Christians, but many are living contrary to Christian teachings. For instance, their differences amongst themselves hinders them from even coining a word to address GOD. Prayer for the work of the Holy Spirit in their midst.
* The poverty stricken Chothes need good and noble leaders who can help them cope with every troubles they are facing today. Prayers are needed to really fear GOD in the true sense of belief.
* Pray for schools for the Chothes to provide them higher education.
* Pray also for proper sanitation systems and jobs-oriented training.