The Gangte, one of the Scheduled Kuki Chin Tribe of Manipur are found distributed in Tamenglong, Churachandpur and Senapati (Sadar hills) Districts. Of these, their main population concentrates in the Churachandpur district. Their habitation also includes some areas of Burma. According to 1991 census, there are 8298 Gangte souls in Manipur.
They have their ethnonym derived from a place known as Gang. The word Gangte simply means person from Gang. But the exact location of this place is not ascertained, the name of the site being mentioned during the customary sacrifice known as Vawkpithah. This customary sacrifice is held by the Gangte families, compulsorily at least once in three years. It consists of the priest reciting the chronological order of ancestral inhabitations unto dates in the name of the head of the family. This recitation is known as Khawchuk and includes all the places from the earliest time to dates except the place they settled less than one year.
They believe the emergence of the ancestors from the subterranean origin through a cave as evidenced in their Lawnla dance. It is mentioned in Khawchuk that the Gangtes stated their settlement at Leokong that might be a corruption of name for Lepcha and then at Thangdung, a corrupted word for Thailand. From there they came to Burma and settled in the Chin Hills in Burma and then to the Lushai Hills (now in Mizoram) and since then have moved to Manipur.
They are broadly divided into 3 (three) phengs:
These Phengs are exoganous social units. Amongst them, a marriage with mothers’ brother’s (maternal uncle’s) daughter is prescribed where as father’s sister’s (paternal aunt’s) daughter is forbidden to be the connubial mate.
The people, in the past, wear cotton produced from tension looms. But at present, they commonly use wools. Their traditional cloths include Paunduro, a shawl put on by men of all ranks. Thangsuohpuon, a personifying shawl, indicates its wrapper as a higher status achiever and performer of Chawng rite and Puonlaisan is used both by men and women.
They are nominally Christians but still remember their animistic ways. They worshipped streams, big mountains, a snake with red coloured neck (Gulnakso) and deities as Chongpokpa/Chongpoknu. The traditional festivals are as below:
i) Chapchal Kut: It is observed in the month of March-April for seven days, between which cutting down of a tree and filling in the Jhum is completed. All enjoy Sports, dance and songs by the youngsters.
ii) Gahmasa Kut: This festival is observed after Chapchal Kut. It is observed for only one day to celebrate the first harvest from the field. Killing of mithun for a community feast and is followed by singing and dancing.
iii) Mim Kut: This festival is observed by youngsters making merriment, blowing bamboo trumpets followed by killing of mithun for the feast. It is usually observed in the early part of the October.
iv) Chavang Kut: This Kut is generally observed in the month of October and November lasting for seven days. Killing of animals such as mithuns, cattles, goats and sheep characterized the occasion followed by merry making, sport, etc.
v) Thatlak: This ritual is observed in October. One rooster is killed without breaking any bone. Placed on a plantain leaf, it is kept on a rack as an offering to the god known as Phisang. To its both sides, a branch is posted to which wing of the rooster is attached. On the next day the shaman observes the future omen of the community.