(Maram) About the People


Asia – India – Manipur State – Senapati District – Maram Naga Tribe


Maram Naga Tribe

By Peter Ki

Peter Ki
    Peter Ki

The Maram Naga tribe belongs to the Naga ethnic group, inhabiting the Northeastern part of India as well as the Western part of Myanmar (Burma).[i] The Maram Naga tribals or Maram people inhabit Senapati district of Manipur, a small state in the northeastern part of India. The Maram people are united by a common past, language, customs, and practices. They are well known for their rich cultural heritage. The tribe’s folk songs and folk tales speak of a glorious past.

According to folk lore, the first parents of the Marams were Madungkasyii and S’mutingdangpui, each believed to have been fashioned out by the creator from a creature of the earth. Madungkasyii is made out of N’set (worm) and S’mutingdangpui out of Atingpui (water creature). Since N’set bores into a tree it becomes symbolic of the male principle and Atingpui, being the water creature, becomes symbolic of fertility and regeneration.[ii]

The majority of the Marams, except for the few who are settled in Senapati town, live in villages (over thirty in number) scattered all over the geographical expanse generally known as the Maram Area. The Marams are surrounded by other Naga tribes in all directions: to the North are the Mao Nagas; to the east are Poumai Nagas; to the South are the Thangal Nagas and the Kukis; and to the West and South-West are Zeliangrong Nagas (Liangmai and Zeme). As per Census 2001, the Marams number about 37,340 in total (Manorama Yearbook 2012, p.576).[iii]

The people speak the Maram language. There are some variations in the way the language is spoken, corresponding with the geographical location. They may roughly be classified into five groups: those of Maram Khullen and its neighbouring villages; those of Willong and its surrounding villages; Villages in an around Tahamzam (Senapati); Tumuyon Khullen; and Ngatan villages.

The UNESCO database on endangered languages puts the number of speakers of Maram language at 37,000. Under the UNESCO’s classification of ‘degree of endangerment’ of languages, Maram has been put in the category of ‘vulnerable’; it means that “most children speak the language, but it may be restricted to certain domains (e.g., home)”. The spectrum of degree of endangerment ranges from ‘vulnerable’ to ‘extinct’. If a language is categorized as ‘extinct’, it means that “there are no speakers left”. The Maram language is not in immediate danger of extinction for now, but if the current state of neglect continues it will not be long before alarm bells start ringing.

Maram Khullen (also called Maramei Namdi) is the biggest and oldest Maram village. The quintessential role of Maram Khullen as the preserver of the tribe’s culture, social norms and ethos continues to hold sway. It zealously guards the many customs and traditions of the tribe. The people of this village continue to follow the “LUNAR” calendar for its customs and traditions. Willong is the second-largest Maram village where, awareness about and practice of, traditional mores and culture are still there.

The Marams use Roman script in writing their language. Literature on the Marams is scanty at the most. This is therefore ample opportunity for scholars willing to undertake research on the tribe, especially of anthropological nature.

Agriculture is the main occupation of the people. Both men and women are involved in rice cultivation; while digging of fields, sowing of seeds, transplantation of saplings, and harvesting are common activities, men are responsible for ploughing the fields. Women bear the major burden of household chores including taking care of children. Women will collect water and firewood. Men are responsible for felling of trees from which firewood are prepared.

As far as food is concerned, rice remains the staple diet. Meat is consumed in good measure. The food habit of the people is quite similar to that of the other Nagas. However, this was not the case in the past. One food habit differentiated the Marams from other Nagas. The Marams did not consume pork in the past. Today, with the advent of Christianity, pork is one of the main dishes relished by the people!

The two major festivals of the Marams are Punghi (celebrated in July) and Kanghi (in December). The tribe also celebrates a unique festival called Mangkang around April every year dedicated to the women folks. The Marams still maintain the age-old tradition of monarchy [iv]. For a long time, the Queen ‘Apei Hinga’ sat on the throne until her death on 27 August 2010 [v]. However, in 2011, Namba was crowned the new king of the Marams. Although the majority of the population has embraced Christianity, some people still follow the traditional religion which may be characterized as a form of animism. The geographical feature of the Maram area is marked by hills, shrubs and tropical forest.

The Maram Nagas continue to maintain the age-old tradition of monarchy.[iv] For a long time, the Queen sat on the throne.[v] However, in 2011, Namba was crowned the new king of the Maram Nagas. Although the majority of the population has embraced Christianity, some people still follow the traditional religion which may be characterized as a form of animism.

The geography of the Maram area is marked by hills, shrubs and tropical forest.

Infomaram ++Maram - About the People 3 (Greeting in Maram)


[i] According to Dr. Xavier P. Mao, the Nagas are not one linguistic group but are an ethnic group. They were not subjugated by any group of people till the British occupation of Naga Hills in1880. The word Naga was used the first time in the late 17th century in the Ahom Buranji (Chronicle) to refer to the Nocte, Wancho and Tangsa tribes of Arunachal Pradesh who are part of the larger allied and cognate groups of the Konyak Nagas. See, Dr. Xavier P. Mao, “Problematizing the challenges of the Naga Nationalism”, Eastern Mirror [Source: Eastern Mirror].

[ii] Monica, Kanga (2009), “Folk Tales of Maram: A Critical View”, Tinghaa, A newsletter published by the ‘Maram Students’ Union, Delhi’.

[iii] These figures, however, need further corroboration since the Government of Manipur has rejected the census figures of both 2001 and 2011.

[iv] On 28 April 2011, K. Namba was crowned the new king of the Maram tribe. This followed the death of his mother, the Queen who passed away on 27 August 2010. After the current King’s father (Karang) died, the mother (Hinga) had carried on the tradition as the Queen. With the coronation, Namba is officially referred to as Sagong Namba (Sagong means King in Maram language).

[v] The Queen ‘Apei Hinga’ has been credited with bringing about many social changes in the Maram society.

* * *


KEYWORDS: Infomaram; Maram Naga tribe; Madungkasyii; S’mutingdangpui; Poumai Nagas; Thangal Nagas; Kukis; Zeliangrong Nagas; Liangmai; Zeme; Maram Khullen; Maramei Namdi; Punghi; Kanghi; Mangkang



22 thoughts on “(Maram) About the People

  1. Teresa Willong December 12, 2011 / 10:55 am

    Good job. I used some information from your write-up (The Maram Nagas) for my dissertation. Thank you. God bless you. All the best.

  2. Philippe Ramirez April 7, 2012 / 10:59 am

    Hello and thank you for these useful pages. The Maram language data in Census of India are quite confusing: Total 37340, Meghalaya 35536, Manipur 1672!!! I suppose 35536 is for Manipur. But what about the rest (1672)? Would it be Nagaland?

  3. jonathan Ng December 18, 2012 / 8:45 pm

    Good Job

  4. Ambarisa February 10, 2013 / 2:40 am

    Hi there, interestingly since last few days I am reading a great deal of present situation in the North East India. Nagaland. Honestly being born in India and living abroad I did not know much of present scenario in NE. Regarding Culture and Tradition of indigenous people, I was in a conversation late last year with social problems of Maori people in New Zealand and also Aborigines in Australia. We concluded that Culture and Traditions manifests from one’s Religion. In NZ, Maori people were basically Tribals and when they were converted to an alien religion to theirs i.e. Christianity their culture with traditions and way of life was destroyed. They lost their identity, roots and self respect. Till today that ethnic population is plagued with so many problems because their Tribal way of life was basically destroyed and they were forced to live life which was altogether different. I believe the same issues plague not just Nagaland but many North East States of India. These are my thoughts through experiences in India and Abroad.

  5. khangba lawrence May 7, 2013 / 12:08 pm

    Worth to APPRECIATE it !!. if include more, it will be more good. since, it is one of the way to let others know about us. anyway good work ,keep it up!. `l LIKE UR SPIRIT`.

  6. Benjamin Kasung June 9, 2013 / 9:27 am

    Thank you. Keep going…

  7. Chumi gogoi July 19, 2013 / 8:01 am

    I want to be teach maram language.please help me

  8. Anem Langching October 28, 2014 / 4:30 am

    Every person have their own talent and ideas…..nice info about Maram people.

  9. K.eloziia January 15, 2015 / 12:28 pm

    Thank you . . It mean alot in submitting my project

    • infomaram February 3, 2015 / 6:51 am

      You are most welcome. Suggestions for improvement will be appreciated.

  10. T. Kabi Joseph March 6, 2015 / 4:06 pm

    Good to know about Maram! Thanks for your good deeds, keeps spreading.

  11. Gaikhangjang Gangmei August 18, 2015 / 4:58 am

    For better understanding on socioeconomic, agriculture, means of livelihood and food security issue can also invite any papers from your intellectual and writer

  12. Hingba James February 2, 2016 / 12:15 am

    Hey I have a question can I ask

    • infomaram February 8, 2016 / 10:14 am

      Please go ahead…

  13. George September 4, 2016 / 7:14 pm

    Hi,i would like to ask one thing. that is how the Marams use Roman script in writing their language? Thanks in advance

    • infomaram July 12, 2018 / 6:24 am

      Since the Marams do not have a script of their own, they used the Roman (Latin) script in their writing. As we are all aware, the Latin script is the basis of the International Phonetic Alphabet and the 26 most widespread letters are the letters contained in the ISO basic Latin alphabet. Thanks.

  14. henry karaiba October 16, 2016 / 9:03 pm

    Dear Sir,
    I feel there is an error and require a correction in the second paragraph the sentence ” Madungkasyii is made out of N’set (worm) and Madungkasyii out of Atingpui (water creature)”.

    Thank you.

    • infomaram October 22, 2016 / 4:25 am

      Thank you for pointing out the error. Corrections made.

  15. barnabasgharris October 17, 2016 / 2:51 pm

    Hi Peter, I am a researcher from University College London in the UK – I would like to talk to you about you about your work. Do you have an email address I could write to you on? I am looking for high quality version of the videos of the stone pulling ceremonies that you have uploaded onto YouTube.

    All the best,

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