Me And My Manipuri Things

Archive for December 2007

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It’s been two hundreds or more years since our forefathers settled here from a beautiful place called Manipur and consequently they had developed a diverse identity for us. The identity of Bishnupriya Manipuri was a result of long historical process and series of struggles. For years we, bishnupriyas, meiteis and pangons are living here with a very close relationship and harmony as manipuris, as a undivided community. Though I take utmost pride of being a Manipuri, life has never been usual like other Bangladeshis here. I suffer the same side with other indigenous tribes living in political boundary of Bangladesh. If you are a non-bengali you are always 2nd class people here. Even if you are Hindu, you are 2nd class Hindu because you belongs to a marginal ethnic group. And I guess that is the same for hundred percent of the people belonging to Manipur or the other North Eastern states of India. As constitutionally the definition of ‘Indian’ or ‘Bangladeshi’ doesn’t include us, this is a price we indigenous tribes are forced to pay for national integrity.

The law of nature is ‘Survival of the fittest’, in a close ecosystem or forest where diverse population occurs; the dominantly populated species will always try to take maximum resources. If the resources are scare then they will try to eliminate the lesser-populated communities, thus extinction occur. This is similar to human being also. But there are so many people still our community who are sadly prone to disease of being copycap Bangalis, their role model has been some typical ‘Bengali Bhadaralok’. What gives me more shock is when educated people suffering from inferiority syndrome and usually try to ignore and hide their identity as a Manipuri. How to make these people realized that “you cant become the son of other mother, as she has her own sons”? How can people forget the endless struggles and sufferings our godly ancestors had gone through to develop a social structure, rules and regulations, economy system, an honest way of living and life leading, a unique dress code, a language to communicate and above all, to establish a proud identity for us?

If we ever tried to trace our roots we would hardly find it in history books. In the past years I have come across enough incidences and accounts that build up this immense anger and disappointment in me and I don’t understand where it will all go. In these years I have understood the importance of bringing our ever neglected history, culture, fine art, language and literature in front of the world. We have to make extra effort to find and preserve our glorious history and culture. Whatever little or more we know should be shared with everyone.

We are lucky to have portals, website and blogs like manipuri.org, pouri.org, bishnupriyamanipuri.blogspot.com etc and we should make the most out of it by contributing articles and other stuffs, which are related to our identity and culture to share it with everyone. I deeply appreciate these endeavors and my special thanks goes to the people responsible for bringing up such a wonderful sites.

Giving more importance to our own culture might seem too fanatical or selfish. One of my friends criticized me for not being interested about Bengali culture and not being stereotyped like wearing Saris and Lungi, listening Rabindra Sangit, talking in fluent Bengali, eating Meats, visiting Loknath baba ashrams or Durgabaris as well. She was shocked when I replied – “do you like to wear a Lahing or Inafi, can you talk Manipuri, do you eat Paltoi and Sinchou, do you bow down to Apokpa?” To that, naturally came, “You indigenous people are very selfish! You just think of your people, your culture, your identity.”

Well if we don’t think about our people or our culture will Superman fly in to save us?

Great Personalities who have made a difference to Bishnupriya Manipuri society in the fields of Arts, Music, Dance, Education, Literature, Religion, Social work etc and contributed a lot to Bishnupriya Manipuri culture and spirit. Let us have a look on profiles of those great personalities who make us feel proud to be a Bishnupriya Manipuri.


Read Part one here

Part Two (1960-1980)

In the post 60’s – a brave and dynamic leader, a devoted community worker and a great writer was revealed in Bishnupriya Manipuri Community. His Name is Sarvashri Jagat Mohan Singha, former secretary of Nikhil Bishnupriya Manipuri Sahitya Parishad, popularly known as ‘Jagatda’. Jagat Mohan was born in 13th December of the year 1920 in a remote village of Assam. He played impressive rule in the language movement demanding the recognition of Bishnupriya Manipuri Language in post 60’s and 70’s. He was respected with the title ‘Sarvashri’ given to him for his dynamic and courageous leadership. His literary works mainly the criticisms under the nickname ‘Dolan Ipu’ was very popular among the mass. He compiled the valuable research work on Bishnupriya Manipuri language and history – ‘The Bishnupriya Manipuris and Their Language’(1976). Jagat Mohan was also a dramatist and composer of many songs on social enlightenment. Songs like ‘Jonome Jonome more diya petheis hunar Manipure..’ or ‘Loktake kader, kader akkhula … ahir pani bela bela ‘ are still source of inspiration for Bishnupriya Manipuris.

Another remarkable community worker and a dedicated leader is Late Sri Dinanath Singha of Tilakpur, Bangladesh. He worked throughout his entire life for the betterment of Bishnupriya Manipuri community living in Bangladesh. He worked as the president of Bangladesh Manipuri Samajkalyan Samitee which was joint platform of Bangladeshi Bishnupriyas, Meiteis and Pangans. In 1973 and 1975 a deputation leaded by him met the that time Prime-Minister and that time President of Bangladesh arguing to provide faculties for Manipuri students, patronizing Manipuri culture, construction of Manipuri Mandhavs and broadcasting Manipuri programs in the national media. As a result of his efforts, in 1976 the Govt of Bangladesh started telecast of regular programs from Radio Bangladesh, Sylhet station in Bishnupriya and Meitei language under a common Manipuri line. The Govt also granted a fund for maintenance of the Mandavs and provided reservations for Manipuri students in Govt institutes. Dinanath’s leadership pressurized the govt to establish ‘Manipuri Lalitkola Academy’ to extend Manipuri culture and Music. Bishnupriya Manipuris of Bangladesh inaugurated many associations/awards by his name viz ‘Dinanath Smriti Academy’, ‘Dinanath Puraskar’, ‘Dinanath Britti’ etc.

Hanjaba Guru Bipin Singha may rightly be called as the “Father of Manipuri Dance and style”. He was awarded with a number of the prestigious titles like Bharat Ratna, Kalidas etc. He has the past four decades with his disciplines – the Javery sisters -has contributed a great deal in the field of Manipuri dance and culture. In Bombay the famous performers and teachers are the Jhaveri sisters – Nayana,Suverna, Darshana and Ranjana Jahveri. They continue this tradition at their institution ‘Manipuri Nartanalaya’. Guru Bipin Singha is one of those artists who have spread the beauty of Manipuri dance all over the world and have been honored both nationally-internationally on this subject and thus brought glories for Bishnupriya Manipuri community.

Among the living legends, the name of Dr. Kali Prashad Sinha comes at first. He is the first and foremost Bishnupriya Manipuri to be entitled with the degree Ph.D and D. Lit. He is the first exponent of Bishnupriya Manipuri linguistics. Dr K P Sinha passed M.A. in Sanskrit from Jadavpur University in 1963. He visited almost every village of Bishnupriya-speaking people in Assam, Manipur, Tripura and Bangladesh; studied dialectical differences and collected the vocabulary of the language. With all this materials a thesis entitled ‘A study on Bishnupriya Manipuri Language’, on which he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy by Jadavpur University in 1968. He joined the Assam University as Professor & Head of the department of Sanskrit. His remarkable contribution is the first ever ‘Bishnupriya Manipuri Grammar’ and the significant work ‘An Etymological Dictionary of Bishnupriya Manipuri’. He wrote a number of essays on Bishnupriya Manipuri linguistics, social problem etc and composed numerous poems, vaishnava padavalis and modern songs. He translated the whole Rasleela songs into Bishnupriya Manipuri language expressing the divine love of Radha and Krishna, which are previously found only in Bengali-Brajabuli version. Greater contributions of Dr K P Sinha are in the fields of Indian philosophy where ‘Nyaya-Darsana-Vimarsa’, ‘Sankara-Darsana-Vimarsa’, ‘The Buddhist Theory of Non-Self’, ‘The concept of Absolute Indian Philosophy’ etc worth mention. Dr K P Sinha was once involved with social activities with Bishnupriya Manipuri Mahasabha and later he formed Bishnupriya Manipuri Sahitya Sabha. In 1994, his statements along with his research works that were submitted to the Assam Backward Class Commission played an vital role in recognition and inclusion of nomenclature “Bishnupriya Manipuri” in the list of OBC. In personal life, he remained unmarried and he spent all his earnings in publishing books, organizing community events and founding the cultural point ‘Divyasram’.

References:
Souvenir of Word Conference 2003 by NBMM
Kothika Matek by Prof. Ranjit Singha, 1992
Souvenir of 50th anniversary of NBMSP & NBMSP, 2006
Ithaak, January 11th, 1995 Issue
Pouri Patrika, August 2007 Issue

Acknowledgements:
Sri Samarjit Singha, Tripura
Prof. Ranjit Singha, Mouvibazar

Contd…


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