Archive for the ‘Learn about Bishnupriya Manipuris’ Category
To many of us, the name Manipuri stands for colorful hand-woven saris and shawls. To other it is synonymous with classical dance. But the exotic images tell only part of the story, Beyond the colorful facade, the history of the Manipuri people is one of conflict, deprivation and exile. Following political intrigue in the eighteenth century, a large number of Manipuri fled their homes and took refuge in greater Sylhet, as well as the Indian states of Assam and Tripura. These people had Indo-Aryan features and called themselves Bishnupriyas. Long before their exodus they had lost control of Manipur to the rival clan of Meiteis. In their adopted land their lives and limbs were safe; but their language and culture began to lose ground against those of the majorette. Meanwhile, the Meiteis in Manipur became vindictive and imposed a de facto ban on Bishnupriya language and custom. The Bishnupriya Manipuris were caught between a rock and a hard place. Today, young Manipuris are no longer sure of their cultural identity. Elders worry that their rich heritage may not be preserved for posterity… An Article written By Syed Zainul Akmal Al-Mahmood, Sylhet, Bangladesh.
The Village of Ghoramara, 5 miles south of Bhanugach rail station in Moulvibazar district, is buzzing with excitement. It is the eve of Durga Puja and there is to be performance of Ras Lila, beginning at midnight. The Ras is a unique Manipuri function – the dance drama that put Manipur firmly in the cultural map of subcontinent.
“Ras Lila depicts the love affair between Srikrisna and Radha” said Swapan Kumar Singha, interne doctor at Sylhet Osmani Medical college Hospital. “We attach a lot of importance to this dance. It is one of the highlights of our social colander.”
In times of yore, the Ras may have been performed by the Sevadasis of temples, but these days it very much a socio-religious ritual in which amateur artists perform with gustho. A group of fifteen has been practicing behind closed doors for weeks.
We go on a tour of the Mandap, the covered area in front of the temple where the Ras will take place. Workers are busily constructing a fancy stage – a round enclosure, all frills and intricate designs. Elder look on with solemn attention while small children, rosy-cheeked with excitement, dance and play.
The Manipuris follow the Vaishnavite faith. They are worshippers of Bishnu(Vishnu). Singing, dancing and the love of Radha Krishna are a way of life with them. But I’m intrigued to see the goddess Durga holding court on a low dais. How is it, I asked Swapan, that they observe Durga Puja following Shakto rites? He shrugs, “ Its all part of the general mix-up!”
“Mixed-up” is the right phrase to describe the society. The most controversial class of people”, said GK Ghosh in his book ‘Tribal and their culture in Manipur and Nagaland’, “ having no homeland of their own, subsequently losing their identity are Bishnupriyas. Rival clan claim they are not “real” Manipuris. The clues of this riddle lie in the checkered history of Assam.
Children of the wide Lake
Manipur is situated in on the eastern flank of present day Assam. It has quite a long history, although the name itself appears to be of relatively recent origin. In the Allahabad stone piller inscription of Samudra Gupta(4th century AD) there is no mention of Manipur, although the neighbouring kingdoms are named. According to the Mahabharata, the anicent name of this country was ‘Meckley’ and this is the name that was used when King Gaursham signed a treaty with the British in 1763. Manipur-or Meckley -is actually on a tableland surrounded by hills. It has a large lake-eight miles by five-called Logtak. The people of southern China called this land Meung-kha-la (Meung=Land ; Kha=Lake; La=Wide) and it is clear that this is where the name Meckley derives from.
In the plains beside the lake lived a race of people who had sharp Indo-Aryan features and used a language, which was similar to the Kamrupi tongue rather than the Burmese-Chinese group. These were the Bishnupriyas. For centuries these people have been called ‘Khalachai’ which in southern Chinese dialect menes ‘Children of the wide lake’ (Kha=Lake; La=Wide; Chai=Children). The other race in Manipur, the Meitheis, moved in from chinese territory and this is reflected in the name. Meithei means,, in Chinese, ‘people of this country’ i.e., Chinese territory. “It is quite probable that the kalachaias are the first cultural race in possession of the Manipur valley,” wrote Rajmohan nath in’The Background of Assamese Culture’.
Vaishnavism arrived in Manipur in 1737 in the form of Santadas Babaji ,an enterprising Bengali Baishnad of the Sri Chaitanya School . He came over the hills from Sylhet and captivated the entire population, including the king, with his melodious Kirtana, depicting the life of Radha-Krishna . Overnight, Vaishnavism became the royal faith. It is said that Santadas instigated King Pamheida alias Garib Nawaz to burn all the historical documents in order to make a clean break with the past . Thus, between a ruthless king and ambitious gurn, the history of Manipur was obscured.
There is a story that King Pamheiba ordered all his subjacts to bath in the Nongkhrang lake in order to purify themselves. The Bishnupriyas led by the Khumal chieftain initially refused, claiming that they were already purified through adopting the Bishnad faith earlier. Indeed, the influence of the Shankar Dev school of Vaishnavismmcan still be seen in Bishnupriya Manipuri culture ( GK Ghosh, Tribals and their Culture) . This dispute only widened the existing rift between the Bishnupriyas and ruling Meithei class . Large numbers of Bishnupriya Manipuris begen to migrate out of Manipur. this process was hastened by repeated Burmese attacks and soon the once-proud Bishnupriyas became a nation of refugees.
Back to the village…
Meanwhile back in the village, Ghoramara, preparations for the Ras are going smoothly. Swapan’s cusin Subhasini will be one of the performers. She returns from the final drees rehearsal to report that everything is fine. There is a bit of worry regarding the young boy who will play Krishna, “Krishna is very naughty”, says Subhasisni., “ he’s constantly needling the master ‘Give me another sweet or I wont dance!’ that sort of thing.”
Ghoramara is no dearth of bright young faces. Manipuris in Bangladesh acquired themselves well. There are Doctors, Engineers, and University students. Kungo Thang is a final year computer science student of BUET. He is resentful of the influence of Brahmins in the society. “We are Vaishnavs”, he says, “So we shouldn’t have a caste system. The Brahmins have undue influence because of view that only Brahmins can be priests. The system should be done away with.”
Amulya, a stenographer of the TNO office in Moulvibazar, disagrees, “ The social structure ensures stability. If we were dismantled overnight, we will be thrown into turmoil.” But Ashim is insistent, “ A lot of things don’t make sense,” he argues, “ There is rules that forbids marriage within clans. You can see, in a limited society like ours, this can pose problem. If you are a member of the biggest clan, finding a suitable mate can be difficult.” Swapan sighs theoretically, “ It’s a tragedy!”
Forget Romeo and Joliet, in Manipuri society Khamba Thoibi has grabbed center space. In 15th century AD, Khamba, a prince of the previously routed Khumal Royal family (probably a Bishnupriya ) fell in love with Thoibi – a princess of the Moirang clan ( probably a Meithei ). The union have been to the political advantage of both Khumals and Moirangs ; but the Moirang chief resisted on purely personal grounds. The result was tragic not only for the young lovers but also for the feuding tribes of Manipur.
To this day, popular Ballads are sung in the memory of the love affair between Khamba and Thoibi. Who knows if the affair hadn’t ended in tragedy, the couse of history might have been altered; perhaps the Bishnupriyas wouldn’t have been in exile today.
Literacy and the Identity Issue
It is staggering to learn that in Ghoramara, 100% of the population is literate. There are no millionaires but there are no beggars, either. Everyone works. The women work hardest of all. Swapan’s sister Jharna is a schoolteacher. She is also homing in an MA in Bangla. In between she helps with the housework’s and also finds time to play active rule in Adhunik (Now Manipuri Theatre), the village drama society.
Rajkanta Singha, headmaster from a local high school not far from Ghoramara. He talks at lengths about the problem facing Manipuri society.
“Our problem is not poverty, or literacy”, he says, “A Manipuri never starves because we are clever with our hands. The problem is that we have been so preoccupied with mundane day to day that we have forgotten who we are. We’ve neglected our sense of identity and some people are taking advantages, claiming we don’t have one!”
“ Do you know the Meiteis have passed laws in Manipur, forbidding the Bishnupriya Manipuri Language? Can a civilized people do that? They are trying to rob us with our identity. They talk about ‘Real Manipuri’ is rubbish! They should live and let live.”
Rasmahan Singha, principal of Manipuri Fine Art Academy, who went England during the Bangladesh festival, strikes a similar notes. “ we have been asleep too long. Now our very existence is threatened. Do you know if you ask me the name of a scholar among us, an authority on Manipuri matters, I would be at a loss, We have no one!”
To be contd…
Today is Yaosang, the Manipuri version of Holi.
The Manipuri observance of Holi differs a lot from the normal Holi observed throughout India. It is a five day festival of of Importance,often referred as ‘Phaguwa’ by the Bishnupriya Manipuris. While the basic Vaishnavite features of the festival are present, the manipuris have given it the added significance of its being a commemoration of birth of Sri Chaitanya or Gauranga Mahaprabhu.
On the first day, bamboos and thatches are collected from houses to construct a small mandir(hut) or shed called Yaosang near the road side. The image of Sri Chaitanya is brought into the shed and groups of people male, female, old and young arrange offerings in conformity with traditional and Gaudiya manner. In the evening of the full-moon day they set the hut on fire. After burning down the shed people collect ashes and paste them into their forehead.
It is said that the festival is observed to symbolize the pang of separation between Radha and Krishna and the manner in which Krsihna sees Radha after burning the shed.It is also evident that into this Vaishnavite festival certain traditional Manipuri aspects have been incorporated. It is likely that the Yaosang festival, was originally connected with the coming of spring, and that the burning of the Hut (Yaosang) may have symbolizes the destruction of the Cold and the farewell of winter.
The most characteristic feature of the festival is that, from the second to the fourth day, groups of people – irrespective of age, sex and rank – walk from house to house to collect “Vikkha” in the form of rice and money. During the begging they recite the lines in chorus “Hori Hori Bola – E Hori”. Smalls boys and girls beg money from the passersby. Youths are seen parading the streets with red powder, painting or sprinkling colored water locally called as “Pechkari”. In Manipur, boys and girls participate in the traditional Thabal Chongba dance.
Happy Yaosang and Happy Holi to all!
jaat ahar, bhasa ahar prachinotto baro historic proman ou bhasar lokosahityai der. bhasa ahan kotihan beboharik bhasahan asil, bisesh koria amar bishnupriya manipuri bhasa ehan, ouhanor pou ami amar purana lokosahityar ma peyar. pourei(proverbs and idioms) bultara eta bhasa ahar dangor sompod. 600/700 bosor age amar somajhar chinta-chetona ba jibondhara kisade asil ouhar chitrogo ou someikar poureit ami sha sha kore dehiyar.
pourei eta poromporat pasi somajor obhiggota. tanur gyan, tanur buddhi, hoba, hobanei jehan pasi ouhan chhondolo, olongkarlo, upoma-rupoklo sajeya amarka thodesita. ami tanur bhasa baro chinta ouhanilo jibon ehanore dehiar. pourei etar mingale ami seitto hanore peya ouhanore grohon koriar.
eta sadharon bhasalo matesi sadharon kotha nagoi, osadharon kotha outa sohoj koriya sadharon koriya matesita. sohoj kotha uhanor ma ase gobhir ortho. kengkoresi outa dangor shilpi akeigo.digol yari ahane, lecture ahane jehan mate narer ouhan pareng aakhanath matiya foukore der pourei ahane.
OJAR LOGE RAJA NUWARER – ehan dangor satyahan. baro OJAR BARADE JOLSITA – ehanou arak satya ahan. OJAGORE KOJA KHAWANI, OJAR NANGE PORUWAR BARTON – ere pourei eta mar ahigi melader.
Pourei- kotha ehanor ortho ahan peyar ‘agekar yari’,itihas. poirei eta amar loko itihas. somajor bises ghotona ahan thaite thaite poureihan olose. SWARUPAR KIRTON – pourei ehat ase Swarupa buliya girok agoi kirtan koriuru buliya barton diya loyoitega kittau ayujon nakoriya koresil ghotona ouhan lukeya ase. aji peryao esade samantoral ghotona ahanore SWARUPAR KIRTON bulia mattara. Swarupa ego kurangkargo kun loyargo mate narleo tar kamhan pourei han oliya jingta oya ase.
BOLOR BAPOKOR LAMUISING THELANI- poirei ehat manugore namatiya putokorelo porichoi desi. ere girokgaso etai koriya gesiga kam outarka somajhane tanure omor koriya thoila. tanur kotha etare haisso roslo ghohon korla. hin duk yarou koulir hadit samaj ehan jingta oya asi ehan pourei nikaliya harpuasi. dukkho hanore ahir panilo na ngokkoria – muksihanlo marupgo koranir hothna dehorang.
kuno kuno poureit samajhanore niya bidrup baro samaluchonar porichoi peyar. jemon – MI THAITE KHAIGOI KIYA BOKSAHAN BOYA HIMPEITOITA – ehat amar slave mentalityr porichoi peyar, uddeissohan ere aghat ehanlo nojore hojak korani.
pourei akeihanath yari akeihan lukiya ase. poureir ma amar apabopar jibondhra, asila lam ouhar geography, sangskriti, achar bebar ritiniti habi mengselhar sadane dehe pariyar.
Sri Bimol Singha baro Sri Brajendra Kumar Singha girok dogiye nyam hothna koriya bishnupriya manipuri tharor lamsam di lising pourei khomkoresi baro outa ‘pourei’ nangor lerik (agartala, tripura, 1988) ahanat saatkoresi. girok dogirang bishnupriya manipuri somaj harajibonorka rini iya thaitai soinei. epei bishnupriya manipuri lokosahityar barongotto amritor sade nungsi pourei kotohan habir ka tuledilu –
- OITE AHAN MATTE PAACH HAN
- AATJAANG MUJURIYA KHANGKORANI
- AALIYAR GOJE PATA BORON
- AATELHANE BAARHAN PHANI
- AAHIGIDE JINJINI NIKULANI
- ICHAR FAL BOISAR FAL DENA
- URADARAR DOUGO
- UHULA AARIGO
- EK DEBA EK SEBA
- E JONOME, NA HOU JONOME
- EGODE BINI HOUGODE PIHA
- EMARI BARTON BULTE KIRTON
- ER BULLE ER, TITI BULLE TITI
- KO BULTE KISHNO NINGSING ONA
- KOSUJARE FARSI DENA
- KOCHKO KAPIYA KHANA
- KAKARA DORTEGA HOROP DORANI
- KANA UTONGE PANI DALANI
- KANA MONE MONE JANA
- KARTAU THASI KARTAU JUNAK
- KISNORE PEILEU LEISI KHANA
- KHER MARA DENA
- GOR PEITE NOU BURANI
- GORE BAT NEILE BELITIKE KOULI
- GUCHARITH PARA DENA
- CHOROR MAAL ORE GATANI
- CHENGEIT PORA IDURGO
- CHHINCHUR MAROITH AANDI
- JANGLO JI THELANI
- JELA CHAKUMOR KHALE BELA
- TE BULTE TENGARAGO HARPANI
- DIGALI BONHAN PATHARI NAKORANI
- TINGA MEKUROR LEJ NUKANI
- TOR GORE TI DANGOR, MOR GORE MI
- DILE HOBA NADLE SHAKTI
- NIJOR AAT JOGONNATH
- PAAPHANE SERHAN PHANI
- BOBEIR HUTA DONANI
- BAATTI MANUR BUDDI NIYAM
- BATOR GOJE BERENGA
- BAPOKOR PUTOK, MALOKOR JILOK
- BITOREDE BON KAPANI
- BUALE LEHUE BEIBUNI
- BOU KHEYA SEP AAGANI
- MANGKHEIR PATAT THAKORIYA BESANI
- LANGTIYAR SIRAPE GURU NA MORTARA
- LONKAAT GIYAU OLOI
- SHANI SEBAT KIRTONOR KHUTTEI
- SOMOYE PORLE BAAKGOU AATHALI KHAAR
- HAGEDE SEP BELLE NIJORANG LAGER
- HARIR LILA MAKORO JAAL
- HUKANAT PARON PATANI
- HUCHIGO PORLEU DEHANI
- HUNA THAITE KASUR BEBSA
pullap kore itihashan na peileu bishnupriya manipuri jator tuma tuma itihasor shakkhi oya ase pourei eta. pourei etar ma manipuror matir loge amar jaathar marengor somporkor nanan yaripori lukia ase.amarka amar apabopai tanur gyan, dharona, upodesh, boktobya baro obhiggota outa kobittolo sajeya thodiya gesiga. ami etalo nojore, nojor kola-kristi-culture baro sahityare saja pariyar. na sajeileo amar dhan amar barongot thaile ami bora oyar.
Department of Linguistics
3600 Market Street, Suite 501
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-2653
PENN LINGUISTICS SPEAKER SERIES Fall 2003
Held by the Department of Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania. Co-sponsored by the Institute for Research in Cognitive Science (IRCS) and the Graduate Student Associations Council (GSAC). Open to members of the greater university community.
University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC)
ENGLISH GRAMMAR: THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE MISSING TWENTIETH CENTURY
University of Delhi, Delhi, India
BISHNUPRIYA AS A CONTACT LANGUAGE
William A. Ladusaw
University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC)
GETTING BEYOND FUNCTION APPLICATION: RESTRICTION, SATURATION, AND MODIFICATION
University of Delhi, Delhi, India
BISHNUPRIYA AS A CONTACT LANGUAGE
BISHNUPRIYA AS A CONTACT LANGUAGE
This talk is about Bishnupriya language which emerged as a result of contact between Indo Aryan Languages such as Assamese and Bengali and Tibeto Burman languages such as Meitei. The available evidence suggests that Bishnupriya must have emerged as a contact language in Manipur sometime in the late 18th century as a consequence of the spread of Hinduism (in particular, Vaishnavism) in the North Eastern Part of India. Though Bishnupriya emerged as a contact language in Manipur, a majority of the Bishnupriyas are at present located outside Manipur in parts of Assam, Tripura and Bangladesh, where they have come into a secondary contact with local Bengali vernacular.
The ongoing controversy regarding whether or not Bishnupriyas can be allowed to have any claims over Manipuri identity has its roots in the state politics and culture and the superimposed dominant presence of Indic languages, in particular, Bengali and to some extent Assamese that has been perceived as a threat to the very existence of tribal identity and culture in the North East. Thus, while the claim for the use of the term Bishnupriya Manipuri is seen by the Meities as a dilution of their own identity, the Bishnupriyas see it as their legitimate right to create a small but distinct space within the overall Meitei space (regional and cultural). However, the problems of the Bishnupriyas are much more complex precisely for the reasons that they can neither be regarded as Aryans nor as entirely Meitei or Tibeto Burman in general. This is because Bishnupriyas represent ethnically and culturally a mixed group and their language clearly a result of contact between the Tibeto Burman and the Indo Aryan population.
In this talk I intend to present Bishnupriya as a contact language and provide an overview of its major structural and cultural traits. I would also draw a comparison between the structures of the various languages that are involved in the contact and discuss the continuation of the features of the source languages on the one hand and transformations, innovations and changes on the other.
It should be noted taht 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. There origins were remembered by the terms Nongpok Haram (The Mongoloid migrants from the East, mainly the Shans, Kabaws and Pongs, a little of Chinese and Burmese) and Nongchup Haram (The Dravidian and Aryan migrants from the West, mainly the Bishnupriya’s, the Brahmins etc.). 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, Aryans, Pongs, Chinese, Siamese, etc, were contributory.
Also some Linguistic Points shouldn’t be ignored:
a) The relation between the Bishnupriya and Meitei language is well established. The Bishnupriya grammar is also influenced by Meitei
b) Bishnupriya Manipuri language incorporated some features from the languages of hill tribes. Sir G.A. Griersons(LSI Vol-4, p- 419) observation on BPM was the word for ‘bad’ is ‘good-not’ hoba-naya, as in all Kuki-Chin languages. The use of demonstrative pronoun after the noun which it qualifies is also a typical of Kuki. The Suffix of the dative ‘rang’ a Kuki idiom. The form of future that in ng, is taken from Thado Kuki.
c) Bishnupriya language has considerably good number of (more than 4,000) Meitei words. For example: laupuk, mang, matik, marup, ning, nungsi, pang, pham, sing, thungba, yathang etc. The most remarkable feature of Bishnupriya Manipuri Language is that it retained many older phonology of Meitei and also some words of Meitei of archaic and medieval age. It was because the Bishnupriyas left Manipur during the last part of 18th century. Colonel W McCulloch compiled a comparative vocabulary of Meitei and Bishnupriya which in published in 1859.
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