It is an irony how we have not been able to hold on to many of our ethnic games that originated in this land. Polo originated in our very own Manipur, but this majestic game was brought to the notice of the world by the British. The original game of polo indigenous to the people of Manipur was known as Sagol Khangjei in local parlance. These games were played while riding the Manipur ponies. According to Manipuri mythology the Manipur ponies are the believed to be the descendants of Samadon Ayangba, the winged horse of Lord Marjing, the God of Sports and protector of the Northeast direction.
These Manipur ponies are very typical animals, one of the four recognized Indian breed of horses of the world. It is a medium sized animal standing at 44 to 52 inches, sturdy legs and well proportioned hooves. It has a short back, strong shoulders and very well developed hind quarters. It is known to be very sure footed, alert head, and long endurance animal. However, once considered the “Pride of Manipur”, these beautiful animals are now on the brink of extinction. The Quinquennial Livestock Census of India reported a dwindling population of these horses since 2003. This census is conducted every five years and the population has come down from a total of 1,898 to drastic 1,011 in the year 2012. These ponies were listed in the endangered breed in the year 2013. Most of the deaths are due to road accidents and food poisoning due to rapid urban development which has robbed these animals of their natural habitats.
By: Madhuchanda Saxena