Polo has been being played since time immemorial in Manipur. It is closely associated with history and legendary stories of the land too. It is an inevitable part of the Manipuri society too. The original form of Polo i.e. Shagol Kangjei is still played widely in this land.
Ponies occupy a prominent place in Manipur mythology and social life of Manipur. There is the story of creation of Shamaton Ayangba (Pony) by the earth creator Ashiba in the book ‘Ougri’. Offering of polo stick with the ball to god Ebudhou Marjing and search of bride by Maibi i.e priestess with the polo stick in hand in traditional Lai Haraoba i.e. mery making of gods are all still performed in Manipuri culture.
Mythological book, ‘Kangjeirol’ (Art of Polo), stated that king Kangba who reigned Manipur quite earlier before the birth of the Christ invented the game of Sagol Kangjei (game of polo). It is stated that “During a festival Ukrong Hongba, Kangba, the king of Manipur showed a skill of dribbling a bamboo root club by his walking stick on the ground. He asked his subjects to play this game on horse back next the day”. The name of the game of Sagol Kangjei is believed to be derived from the name of the king Kangba. Sagol means ‘horse (pony)’ and Kangjei means ‘Kangba’s stick.
What are other countries saying? Are they believing the statement of Manipur? There has been several debates on internet regarding the origin of the game of polo. Wait, there is a hoarding displayed by the All Manipur Horse Riding and Polo Association at the Mapal Kangjeibung, the oldest polo ground in the world, located in the heart of the Imphal city which reads “We Gave The World The Game Of Polo”. It is a very clear message indeed.
There were still criticisms continued. However, the Guinness World Records in its Guinness Book of Records of 1991 edition stated on page number 706 regarding the origin of Polo game. Here is the statement:
“Polo can be traced to origins in Manipur state c. 3100 B.C., when it was played as Sagol Kangjei. Other claims are of it being of Persian origin, having been played as pulu c.525 B.C. The game was introduced to British officers at Cachar by the Manipuri Maharaja , Sir Chandrakirti Singh, and the earliest club was the Cachar Club (founded in 1859) in Assam, India. The oldest club still in existence is the Calcutta Polo Club (1862). The game was introduced into England from India in 1869 by the 10th Hussars at Aldershot, Hamsphire, United Kingdom and the earliest match was one between the 9th Lancers and the 10th Hussars on Hounslow Heath, London, United Kingdom in July 1871. The earliest international match between England and the United States was in 1886.
Polo was introduced to the US by James Gordon Bennet in 1876, when he arranged for the first indoor game at Dickel’s Riding Academy , NY. The United States Polo Association was formed in 1890. The United Sates Open Championship was inaugurated in 1904 and has been played continuously, with the exception of 1942-45, since 1919”.
This is the full statement of the Guinness Books of World Records 1991 editions regarding the origin of the beautiful game of polo. The statement is contained on page number 706 of the book.
Final word, polo is the first thing to have been registered for record in Guinness Book of World Records from Manipur.