Sunday, November 15, 2009

History of Manipur and the question of ‘Original Manipuris’

In the pre historic period, the land was formerly divided into small territories occupied by different clans of peoples, namely Khumal, Moirang, Angom, Luwangs, Ningthoujas, etc. The territories were after the names of the respective clans and they lived side by side in Manipur for centuries until the Ningthouja clan occupied all by degrees.

The people of Manipur comprise both the migrants of East and West who came to Manipur in different periods of history. During the earlier period migrants were in general assimilated and assigned to one or other to the clans, no doubt according to the area in which they settled. The history of Manipur witnesses the process of racial fusion undermining the geographical features. So the mass people of Manipur is a composite one to which the Mongoloids, Dravidians, Pongs, Chinese, Siamese, etc, were contributory. Today, the people of Manipur are divided into Hindus and Christians, Tribals and Non-tribals, Hill people and Valley people, Touchables and Untouchables, Reserved and Unreserved people and so on. These distinctions did not exist before Hinduism came and followed by Christianity. Today, Manipur is a land of fractidal blood-shed between these divisions.

At this very moment some people has started thinking seriously about changing the name Manipur to some other indigenous name which will reflect the identity of all the ethnic groups like changing Burma to Myanmar. But in reality changing the name 'Manipur' into something agreeable to all the ethnic groups has always been the problem. I remember some years back there was a big meeting with all the ethnic groups, but they failed to arrive at a particular name. Some groups of our chingmee brothers insisted that 'Hao' be there in the name, for reasons known to them. However, it was not agreed by all.
  1. "We can broadly classify the people into four groups, namely, (i) the Meitheis;(ii) the Vishnupriyas;(iii) the Hill-men and (iv) the Pangans” – Religious development in Manipur in the 18th and 19th Century/ Dr M Kirti singh,Imphal, 1980, page 12-13
  2. “Manipuris are divided into two main tribes – the Khalachais, who call themselves Bishnupriyas, are supposed to have been the first cultural race and the Meithis or Meitheis, who call themselves real Manipuris are supposed to have been next immigrants.” – The Background of Assamese Culture/ R M Nath, , 2nd edn, 1978, Page 83
  3. “মণিপুরীরা দুইটি শাখায় বিভক্ত । যথা: খালাছাই বা বিষ্ণুপ্রিয়া ও মৈতৈ ।” - আরণ্য জনপদে/ আবদুস সাত্তার, পৃষ্ঠা ২৯৭
  4. "Majority people of the state are Manipuris. They are sub-divided into two racial and linguistic groups namely-Bishnupriya Manipuri and Meitei” – Cultural Heritage of North-East India/ Bidhan Singha,1999, page 21
Also past is past. Manipur has assimilated many of those so called late-comers, and they even have enriched our cultures etc. and they are no longer attached to their original roots now. So to my opinion, it is not good to say again and again they their forefathers were the cause of all these problems. What matters now is how do we proceed further leaving behind those unwanted parts.

As a matter of fact, it is said that even ‘Oirginal Manipuris’ came and started settling down in imphal. When such is the case, there is no point in saying 'this place belongs to our ancestors and they are new' etc. We can learn a lot from US. Those early whites came and settled there in US. Now they would rather proudly say they are American and not some British etc.

We should forget the idea of 'this is mine and that is yours'. For whatever reasons we are at this small place called Manipur and we should work hard to make it a developed and peaceful place.

Already there are so many divided groups, with its own so called agenda. Does all these things accelerate or decelerate our vision of Manipur?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Manipuri women show their commercial might

Khwairambandh Bazar, popularly known as Ima Market (mother’s market) or Nupi Keithel (female market). Located in the heart of Imphal city this market is unique as all the sellers are women alone. But, beware, Manipuri women are the no-nonsense kind... An article by Dhanya melody

BILASINI DEVI’S day begins early in the morning. She wakes up at 4 am, performs her household chores and then departs for Imphal, the capital city of the Northeastern state of Manipur by jeep. There she goes to Khwairambandh Bazaar where she sits in her little stall selling vegetables till late evening. She then goes home to prepare her family’s meals and retire for the night. She has to work really hard as her fisherman husband’s earnings are too meagre to support the six member family.

Merma Devi’s life is quite a comfortable one. She lives with her husband, two sons and daughters-in-law in a posh locality of Imphal. As in countless Manipuri households the daughters-in-law share the burden of almost every household duty between themselves, leaving Mema with loads of time on her hands. Rather than waste it at home the latter prefers to go to Khwairambandh Bazar at 10 every morning, and sits in her stall selling “phaneks” or the skirts worn by Manipuri women. She exchanges gossip with her friends, chews “kwa” or paan and is content with life.

These two women are only two instances of the hundreds of women sitting in Khwairambandh Bazar, popularly known as Ima Market (mother’s market) or Nupi Keithel (female market). Located in the heart of Imphal city this market is unique as all the sellers are women alone. One gets almost everything the heart desires from fish and vegetables to exquisitely embroidered shawls and beautiful crockery. A walk through this market is an experience in itself. The market is on the ‘must see’ list of every tourist who comes to Imphal.

Manipuri women show their commercial might
Manipur boasts of strong woman power. The ‘Nupi Lan’ (Dec 12) was a famous uprising of common, mostly unlettered Manipuri women against the all-powerful British rule. A monument in the town square in Imphal commemorates this incident.

Manipuri women are also called ‘meira paibis’ or torch bearers as they come out with flaming torches to protest against unlawful incidents. Women stand for panchayat elections, sit on councils and are also extremely hardworking within the house.

I recall my grandfather’s anecdote regarding a colleague’s visit to Ima Market and his shock at witnessing the slapping of a persistent and unruly bargainer by a woman stall-keeper. Manipuri women are the no-nonsense kind. But they are also very gentle with children and very religious. In Ima Market one may see women like Bilasini Devi who are there to eke out a living sitting side by side with well-off women trying to kill boredom. Whatever the case this is woman-power at its peak.

In a world, particularly a country like ours where dowry deaths, female foeticide, discrimination against women and other crimes against women seem to be on the rise, Ima Market stands out like a beacon, a tower of female strength. May the power of women -- the power of the Mother Goddess rise and many more Ima Markets come about.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Manipuris settled in Tripura compromise is the mantra for survival

In the struggle for survival, it has not been an easy task for the Manipuris who had gone to settle and make Tripura their homeland under some compelling historical circumstances to keep alive their cultural heritage.

''In Tripura, all the Manipuris have to speak Bengali, put on their dresses and the women apply Sindoor on their foreheads and Bindi on their temple. Because this is one of their means of survival in Tripura'', 52-year old Ranjana Devi said.

However, within the confined of their homes, Manipuri women do put on Phanek and on special occasions they wear Phanek Mapan Naiba and Wangkhei Inaphi to show our traditional dresses in pride to others', she added.

The total population of Manipuri people in Tripura which has a geographical area of only 10,486 sq km and a total population of around 32 lakhs people is just around 25,000, and their settlements are scattered around in tiny villages.

Interacting with a team of mediapersons from Manipur who had gone there recently to cover the function held in connection with the unveiling of a statue of Jananeta Hijam Irabot at Rajbari in Dharma Nagar Sub-Division of North Tripura District, A Churamani, a spokesperson of the Jananeta Hijam Irabot Memorial Trust, informed that though some of the Manipuris have been able to join the Government service in Tripura, no gazetted officer, doctor or engineer have emerged from among the Manipuris so far.

However, atleast one Manipuri MLA has been able to get elected to the 60member Tripura Assembly.

Most of the Manipuris in Tripura are daily wage earner engaged in various odd jobs like digging earth, construction of houses, jungle clearing or in labour farms as manual labourers. None of the Manipuris can also open shops and run their business like the Bengalis are doing nor could they take up agricultural activities.

Inspite of the fact that the Govt of Tripura has brought the Manipuris under the category of OBCs, they have not been able to enjoy any benefit as there is no reservation for the OBC with exception to certain relaxation in admission of students in schools.

Otherwise, there is no reservation for OBC in admission to colleges and in recruitment to Government jobs. This is in spite of the fact that there is reservations of 30 percent of the seats for ST and 13 percent for SC in Tripura State. Even though all the Manipuris in Tripura are Hindus, there is no priest for them to conduct religious rites and rituals.

For performing such rites, those who can afford have been hiring priest from Silchar in Assam spending anywhere between Rs 5 to 10 lakhs.

However, it is different story for poor people who cannot afford.

Most of the Manipuri women in Tripura are housewives and those in Government service are only in teaching profession. The awareness of Self Help Groups among them is still low. Churamani further disclosed that many of the Manipuris in Tripura could not read Manipuri language properly. One of the main reason for this is that Manipuri language in Bengali script is taught in schools only from class I to V but there is no proper conduct of the examination in Manipuri language. Even if the examination is held, the marks scored is not allowed to be included in calculation of the aggregate marks. So, many of the students hesitated from taking up Manipuri language as well as in appearing in the exam.

In order to ensure a proper status for the Manipuri people living in Tripura against all odds, there is the need to put pressures on the Government, Churamani noted.

Source: The Sangai Express

Friday, May 2, 2008

Bishnupriya Manipuris in Assam Threaten stir if demands not met:...

Silchar, Apr 25: At least six organizations of Bishnupriya Manipuri community have sent a joint memorandum to the Governor and the Chief Minister of Asom urging them to immediately fulfil of the long-standing demands of the community.

If no action is taken immediately, the organizations will start a road and rail blockade from May 21.

The leaders of these organizations have alleged in a press meet here that the Centre has given its green signal to the departments concerned to start Bishnupriya Manipuri programmes in AIR and Doordarshan. The organizations claimed that the programme would start this year.

Sujata Sinha, the organizer of an NGO, North Eastern Developmental Council, has been pursuing the matter for a long time.

Source: The Sentinel, Guwahati, 26 April 2008

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hindu gods Ram and Hanuman get summons from Indian Court!

BBC News, Friday, 7 December 2007
By Amarnath Tewary,Patna

A judge in India has summoned two Hindu gods, Ram and Hanuman, to help resolve a property dispute.  Judge Sunil Kumar Singh in the eastern state of Jharkhand has issued adverts in newspapers asking the gods to "appear before the court personally".

The gods have been asked to appear before the court on Tuesday, after the judge said that letters addressed to them had gone unanswered.  Ram and Hanuman are among the most popular Indian Hindu gods.

Judge Singh presides in a "fast track" court - designed to resolve disputes quickly - in the city of Dhanbad.  The dispute is now 20 years old and revolves around the ownership of a 1.4 acre plot of land housing two temples.

The deities of Ram and Hanuman, the monkey god, are worshipped at the two temples on the land. Temple priest Manmohan Pathak claims the land belongs to him. Locals say it belongs to the two deities.

The two sides first went to court in 1987.  A few years ago, the dispute was settled in favour of the locals. Then Mr Pathak challenged the verdict in a fast track court.


Judge Singh sent out two notices to the deities, but they were returned as the addresses were found to be "incomplete".

This prompted him to put out adverts in local newspapers summoning the gods.

"You failed to appear in court despite notices sent by a peon and later through registered post. You are herby directed to appear before the court personally", Judge Singh's notice said.

The two Hindu gods have been summoned as the defence claimed that they were owners of the disputed land. "Since the land has been donated to the gods, it is necessary to make them a party to the case," local lawyer Bijan Rawani said.

Mr Pathak said the land was given to his grandfather by a former local king.

Related Links:

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Indian army terrorising Bishnupriya Manipuris and Meiteis in Barak

Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, September 12: Tension continues to grip Borobekra area of Jiribam sub division bordering Assam after people belonging to Bengali and Muslim communities allegedly bashed up three Bishnupriyas publicly in the presence of Army personnel on September 7. Denouncing the assault, the minority Meiteis and Bishnupriyas had been imposing indefinite general strike at the area inhabited by about 3000 people and brining to a screeching halt normal activities.

PRO of Assam Rifles, Colonel Rajesh Mishra when contacted dismissed the allegations as totally baseless and concocted saying “it was an attempt to malign the image and reputation of the Army.

Giving his side of the story, Mishra said that the three men were manhandled by a mob of about 2000 drawn from different communities, other than the one to which they belong.The three then ran towards the Army post at Sotobekra, where they were given shelter and later dropped at their respective places.“If it was not the Army, then how could they have reached their places,” he countered.

As to why they were targeted by the mob, the PRO said that on the said day (September 7) a huge convoy of the security personnel left the post for flood relief operations at Assam.

“The mob thought that the security personnel were leaving following hectic lobbying and instigation by the three persons,” he explained.

The three – Pukhrambam Jiten (42), Pukhrambam Rakeshwar (5 and Thokchom Anilkumar (34) who fled from their homesteads fearing reprisals from the both the Army and the majority communities are currently staying in the State capital. Recounting the incident, Jiten told reporters here that he along with Rakeshwar and Anilkumar were invited to attend a meeting held at a ground adjacent to the post of Rashtriya Rifles (RR) at Sotobekra (under Borbekra Gram Panchayat) on Friday last.

The meeting convened by the majority Bengali community centred around shifting of the Army post from Sotobekra. Amid the meeting one-army personnel called him out and before long “I along with Rakeshwar and Anilkumar were charged of plotting to shift the post and forced us to tender an apology”.

Before long the majority community members led by the Bengalis, who attended the meeting began thrashing all three of them and finding no way for their rescue they rushed inside a room of the Army “but instead of saving us we were chased out by some Army men and they too joined the bashing by using sticks”.

Finally the Army put the situation under control and handed them over to Jiribam police station. On Saturday they were admitted to Jiribam hospital, Jiten said adding that at the hospital some Army men came and asked them to testify that they (Army) didn’t bash them in the incident.

They however declined to endorse the Army’s plea. “We have nothing to do with the shifting of the Army post from Sotobekra nor is it our business”, Jiten said while disclosing that before fleeing to Imphal they lodged a complaint on the matter at Jiribam police station against the Bengali community and the Army for their highhandedness.

The Army hate the minority Meiteis and Bishnupriyas because the latter communities always declined to oblige forced labour ordered by the former, the trio said while opining that this could be the main reason for them (Army) to support the majority Bengalis and Muslims.

Owing to the heavy thrashing the trio complained of pain in the chest, stomach and back. They appealed to all concerned to intervene immediately so that to bring normalcy can be restored at Borobekra.

Related Links:
Communal tension at Jiri following Mayangs attack on three Bishnupriya Manipuris
Sept 7 Barak Valley violence instigated by Army, say victims

Poultry Firming can be an escape key for unemployment trap

It seems approving some stereotypes like wearing Sharee's and Lungis, talking in a non-manipuri accent, eating onions and eggs, practicing choturtho-mongols and birthdays, replacing Ima-githani with Hindu Demis, observing Durga or Diwali gonna constitute somebody's pride at being MODERN and LIBERAL. But can we be liberate ourselves enough to take Poultry Firming as an effective scheme for getting rid of poverty and in developing the economic state of our people?

Don't you think Poultry Firming can be an escape key for unemployment trap most of Bishnupriya Manipuri youths experiencing? Only seven weeks are required to produce a broiler and five months to produce a laying hen. As a result of modern technological development, a dozen eggs can be produced with less than 1.8 kg (less than 4 lb) of feed. Whereas egg-producing hens once produced about 100 eggs each year, such hens can now produce up to 280 eggs each year.

It was good to see our over-romantic society-girls and boys are very much liberal about issues like marrying an outsider. We hope, they will be also liberal in their attitudes and have a progressive blend of mind towards economic development of the society.

From the time of adoption to Vaishnavism Bishnupriya Manipuris refrained from eating meat and eggs, but did Hinduism refrain our people from keeping cattle, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese for commercial purpose? Lets discus how do we educate our people to dynamically engage in economically contributive activities rather than sticking hard to religious taboos.

Why Durga Puja ?

It is a sad case that this ten-armed weapon holding goddess of local Bangali and Assamese(note that Durga is celebrated only in west bengal and some other Bengali
localities of Tripura, Assam and Bangladesh) people becoming the most important
festival for Bishnupriya Manipuris day by day. This is against the thought and philosophy of our ancestors and also much against the very philosophy of Gaudiya Vaishnavism our people adopted. There are solid reasons to oppose the observance of Durga -

a) According to philosophy of Chaitanya Vaishnavism nothing short of prem(love of god) can give us the pure state of salvation. The ultimate aim and purpose of human life is the attainment of the spiritual form of Krisha. I had asked some ISKON gurus and devotees they told me that when you are devoting toward the Lord himself, you dont need anymore devotion toward any shakti like Durga, Kali, or whatever.

b) Durga is a meat-eating blood-thirsty deity, so Durga puja require animal sacrifices, which cannot be carried out by a non-meat-eater conservative manipuri Vaishnav.

c) Durga celebration is very costly, expensive and going to become costlier day by day. Even in the rural areas the picture is very terrifying. A community with a very low average income spending 50/60 thousands of taka or even more money for observing a very unimportant ritual of vaishnavism with a luxuries manner. Whats the benefit we get from that? Our eminent great leader late Bimal Singha was against the celebration of Bengali custom Durga puja.

d) Only handful of brahmins benifits from Durga puja and they succseed in keeping alive the pourahit rules.

Durga orininated from Saivism and historical materials available till date doesnt give us any proof about Saivism or the phallus cult of Indus valley at Manipur before 18th century. The main tanets of Saivism, viz, Pati, Pasu and Pasa are lacking in Manipuri thouht. No kapalikas,Kanphates, Aghories, Bahikathas found in either in Manipur or in our people ever.Saktism also a very recent origin, came to occupy our religion by the hands of some manipuri brahmins by misidentifying manipuri traditional goddess Nompok-Panthoibi/ Leimaren /Imagithani with Durga. Apart this none of our folklore suggests that our forefathers ever had any pronounced worship of male/female reproductive organ together with shakti which was a local culture of tantric hindu people of Bengal.

Just give me one good reason why should we continue worshipping the mayang goddess Durga?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Chaturtho Mongol for IDIOTS!!

I am just being unable to restrain myself from notifying about the observance of "Chaturtho Mongol" in the 4th day of marriage, which is going to take a important place in Bishnupriya Manipuri marriage schema. As far as I know, "Chaturtho Mongol" is completely Bengali or Mayang origin and it's very unreasonable and ridiculous to import a culture which doesn't have any cultural significance to us. It is a disappointment that some people instead of learning our own culture and feeling proud of it, running after the mayangs, stimulating by the attitude that "anything mayang is great!"

I think, our marriage observances and rituals are very sensible, colorful and gorgeous, even more gorgeous than any mayang marrriage, particularly customs like Waroupath, Heijapath, Lohong, Koina Thilkarani,Tindinkar Chana, Pachor bat are very fascinating. I feel proud of our very forefathers who build a rigid foundation considering every aspects of living in a civil way. And the rules are so logical and scientific, duhan ritir kotha ehanat na-matle na choler -

i) Daan'e-Udani: lohongor dine gang-goror manu'e koinagorang rupa daan'e ditara, ehan koinagor malok/bapokor kaje dangor arthik sahajya ahan matani yakorer, kungoi koti dila ehanou lehiya thoitara jate porobortite uta althok dena sombhob or.

ii) Polleng Chana: lohongor dine damangorang marup-machang baro attiyo sojone polleng chana uhan amar Bishnupriya Manipurir ritihan. Ehan damangor kaja , bisesh koriya leirapa utarkaje dangor arthik panglak ahan.

Ebaka Choturtho Mongol buliya je nuwa kumei ahan hanjasi uhante kitarhan, kittaou nagoi, misti plate ahan khaweya khuttol panar bebsayik buddhihan, jehan Bangali'ye kortara. Esade osustho sonskritir cholte thaile akdin Daane-Udani baro Polleng-Chana' r osade riti uthiya jitoiga, kiyabulle manu agor pokkhe habihanit ongso nenar arthik songoti nao thaite pare.

I just pity the idiots, the so called modern idiots, cant they live with self dignity? And our scholars, social leader may be renowned in their respective field, but they have no right to misled future generation, why they want themselves to be identified with the mayangs?

We don't need cultural adoption any more, we are okay with what we are. Our forefathers were very civilized people and they had built a good foundation for us; it's our time to build a house on that. Let us ban all reckless and idiotic activities like "Choturtho Mongol", which can be a threat in preserving our own way of living.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Mi Kungo?

thaya thaya nijorang angkorouri prosnohan - mi kungo? kiya morang biporit chintadhara,biporit anubhuti,biporit darshan?