Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Manipur- the Mani (Jewel) of India:Coincidences
Coincidences: Manipur- the Mani (Jewel) of India
I had no intention to talk to that Manipuri boy talking on mobile who was living on ground floor of that Jayanagar (Bangalore) house where I had stayed six months in Dhirenda's house on second floor. I did not talk to them while I was there for long only once I had gone in their house and had an impression that they were Christian Nagas?
And though I had been to Nagaland talking them once I had left that place long back!
I was thinking to go to my office on that Sunday and correct Srimad-BhagbadGita's correction in my translated Maithili Gita's manuscripts but I incidentally told that Manipuri boy that I wanted to talk to him.
He requested me that as his talk on phone might be longer I should rather go inside and talk to his friends as well as his elder brother.
There were three Manipuris there- Boris, Roshan and Sanjay whose brother Santosh had sent me in from out side.
I initially though Boris was a Christian and Roshan, a Muslim and more so when Boris told me that out of 24 lakh Manipuris 50 per cent are (Maitei- original Manipuri tribal who follow almost all Hindu rituals with minor differences) and 25 per cent Muslim and 25 per cent Christians.
I told them that t was a good balance in the room from that point of view to which they said,"No, we all are Maeties."
I told them that though born and brought up in a RSS milieu I have no prejudices even for non-Hindu religions but surely I am against of conversion by alluring or threatening or by providing medical services or schools to the innocent tribal.
I told them that though many think seeing the facies that Manipuris or Nagas were not historically was far from correct.
In 1947, India had seventh partition since British days however it was 24th partition in past 2500 years. Up to Bali, Borneo, Indonesia and Cambodia, it was India not to talk of Myanmar bordering Manipur which seceded in 1937.
(I- 24.5.1876- Afghanistan as a Buffer state as per Gandamak Treaty with Russia.
II- 817- Nepal as Sugauli Treaty
III-1906- Sikkim and Bhutan were seceded
IV-1914- Tibet was accepted as Buffer State which China gobbled in 1956
V-1935- Sri Lanka (Ceylon) was seceded
VI-1937- Burma(Myanmar) was seceded
VII-14.8.1947- Pakistan was carved pout of remaining India.)
I talked with them for long my association with Manipur due to Kshetrimayum Birendra Singh, three years junior to me in Medical College who had been a swayamsevak of the RSS from Manipur itself but at Darbhanga came close to me rather like my real brother.
I had accepted an editorial job to Dr. K.K. Sinha.Ranchi's office as an assistant editor to the Progress in Clinical neurosciences and that too when my MD examination was only two months away and simultaneously I had asked Birendra to come from Delhi leaving housejob at the Safdarjung Hospital so that he could resume post graduate studies at Ranchi and at Ranchi we stayed together in the rooms of the local NMO workers and later together in a room.
Once, I had been very rude to him for some reasons I did not like and I had changed room but saw that he could continue with his study without any trouble.
Then though we were meeting in the NMO meetings he was not talking to me . He got his MD and came to me on the day of his departure to Manipur and as a brother touched my feet and asked apology to which I had said that I did not feel he was an adult and I should rather not have imposed my views on him and I was wrong even though might be thinking his welfare.
Birendra usually attends AP conferences and recently he met at Goa at the moment I was leaving out the venue. Though I gave a pen as a gift to his lovely child I forgot to give something to his wife, Dr. Roma, as per my family customs since I was in hurry to catch train. She too was a student at Darbhanga.
I had been to Imphal and to his home, Myang Imphal circuiting Loktak Lake . His father was a teacher and while coming out of the house I had asked his younger brother, Narendra, to lace shoes to which he said,
"How I can put shoes, I have to do pranam to parents."
I said that I too would do but I was not knowing that with the shoes there in that interiors of Manipur pranam was neither taken nor given and the climax was that both parents stood together and then he did pranam and took ashirvad.
Such culture is preserved nowhere in India and after seeing that I am hesitant in shoes taking pranam or doing to someone.
Sanjoy and his friends said that even in Manipur now it was vanishing.
Yes, our good culture preserved would vanish in modern fashion.
And at present Manipur is the hot-bed of AIDS due to intra venous drug route on ' golden triangle' of drug trafficking.'
I recall at least three times I had been to Manipur; twice when I had gone for camps in Nagaland during 1986-1988. I may be regarded as the first Hindu missionary doctor to lead a team of the NMO to Nagalnd though some Hindu doctors had gone there earlier but for service and or practice.
I had a class fellow Kuki, a Naga and a Manipuri Achow Singh but than in 1970s they were not enemies of each other as today Nagas and Manipuris have become after Isac-Muhivah's demand for a Greater Nagaland, including some territories of Manipur.
I questioned the wisdom of having such small states- Nagaland has a population of around 20 lakh with 14 tribes named Angami, Ao, Chakhesang, Chang, Khemungan, Konyak, Lotha, Phom, Pochury, Rengma, Sangtam, Sema, Yimchunger and Zeliang.(among which I worked in 1980s and had also an occasion to meet Rani Gaodilinue at Kolkata- she was not a Rani but was so called by Jawaharlal Nehru honouring her fight for identity; she did collect her people from the conversion by Christian Missionaries and when we went it was a news," Our doctors have come." They walked 48 hours in the hilly terrain to get some medical consultation from us. Before us swayamsevaks from Kerala had gone there to open schools and particularly one from Gorakhpur, Jagdamba Mall ,was initially humiliated by them but later was accepted as own person.
Though we did not do any political thing- BJP could get over 20,000 votes that year and that was said to a great extent due to our work. Now BJP has five MLAs there and they have been in power too.
Nagaland to me looks most beautiful part of the nation and so are Naga women.
When I said those Manipuris that if I have to remarry I would like for a Naga women, one of the Manipuris retorted,"No, you have not seen Manipuri beauty when we will call you in our group function here you will know."(there are about seven such groups at Bangalore and some persons are quite aged on senior posts).
Yes, I was neither a Bhima who married Naga Hidimba( whose son was the great hero Ghatotkacha- on Hidimba' brother's name Hidimb – whose palace's ruins I had seen- Hidimbapur was later called as Dimapur- the railhead for Manipur as well nor I was an Arjuna who marry\ied Manipuri beauty Chitrangada…
At Imphal, near Nagamphal, where at Sewa Bharati I stayed twice, I had seen a market, 'Ima Market,' which is an all- women market who sell hand-woven Manipuri clothes and other things. 'Ima' is word in Manipuri for mother.
Once my meeting at Sewa Bharati was attended by the ex-principal of the RMC(Regional Medical College, now renamed RIIMS), Dr. E. Kuladhwaja Singh who was also an alumnus of the Darbhanga Medical College.
I recalled Dr Manichandra, a pediatrician and Kumarjeet from the DMC. I also recall Dr. Y. Bajo Singh, an anesthetist whom I met at the Jabalpur Medical College and when I had gone that room to contact a Manipuri student for the NMO. He was Dr. Bajo singh's son. Dr. Bajo Singh too had studied at the medical college of Jabalpur and when I met him at Imphal he was surprised.
Initially I used to meet specifically medicos from north-east and had even planned an all India medicos conference of that area under the NMO.
Boris said that he would provide me the recent contacts of the medicos and his sister too was an Ayurvedic medico. Sanjoy working for the rehabilitation and prosthetics had many contacts with the neurologists and orthopedic surgeons at Karnataka. He was not much willing to return to Manipur as his specialty was little developed there. I asked him to have contacts for proper referral from there and also train people of his area.
Manipur's population 's around 60 per cent live in the valley and remaining in hilly areas around .
Manipur has some major festivals like other eastern parts of India - Mithila and Bengal though names maybe different . NINGUL CHAKEBA is Bhatri Dwitiya where sister comes to brother's house –two days after Deepawali and gets gifts. They do come during Raksha Bandhan too.
But Holi is most important festival.
I recalled my senior at the DMC, Dr. L. Tondon Singh who used to play dholak so marvelously. Incidentally he was the neighbour of one of the students present there in Bangalore house that day.
I could not attend Birendra's marriage but I was with young persons and asked them about the rituals of marriage in Manipur.
In Manipuri traditional marriage a girl comes (elopes) with a boy and comes to boys house to stay for a night the next morning parents of boy goes to girl house and they inform them for their daughter. They talk something and if marriage is acceptable they come and take the girl to her house. Rarely, if the girl's parents did not come she remains in that house with boy.
The girl returns to her house and a marriage date is fixed as per lagna- some months are barred. Marriage is held in daytime at the house of girl.
One of the boys in the meantime seeing me interested in a Manipuri marriage put the video of the marriage of his brother on the computer.
Whole village comes as Barat both males and females(on many cars , may be 30-40,in a middle class family – a car rent for a day is minimum Rs. 400 to as per distance). Bride has a muretha (head gear) and including him all males are in white dhotis and kurtas however females can put up any type of colourful dresses and they are welcomed in a mandap with chandan and pan. There are coconuts and bananas in the welcome thal as is supposed to be auspicious in rest of India also.
Barat is offered merely some snacks but no lunch nor father of boy offers ornaments. There is no dowry system.
There remains a Brahmin more to assist in the marriage than doing rituals as rituals are not many and though guests are welcomed with fire there is no custom of seven rounds of fire is observed rather the bride takes seven rounds of the groom and does pranam with folded hands and then exchanging garlands first to boy and being removed by Brahmin from boy to girl the same garland of beli flowers.
Howere, like all over India, Kanyadan is done by some elder (in the video Bhabhi had done). Persons from both sides offer pranam to each other. It completes the rituals of marriage of the marriage day and girl returns to boys house. Girls relatives too go to see off her but again only snacks no dinner is offered.
On the fifth day the persons of boys side again go to girls' house where they are offered nice lunch- of 32 dishes.
I observed that on banana leaves first rice with half of the dishes were put and then the invitee was asked to come and take food. In our area the person sits first and then the food is served.
One average cost one to two lakh and this cost of lunch on 5th day is shared between the groom's and bride's sides.
Hence, the marriage is a bit simpler but not much different from rest of the India.
When I asked them about the genealogy of marriage system they said Maeitis have seven clans like Lyshram and others.
There are some clans among which one can marry and also somewhere one can't. However 10 per cent persons do marry in prohibited clans and very rarely one marries in his own clan (sagotriya).
This too seemed to me, a system of our Maithils where too Vatsa and Sawarna cannot intermarry though of different gotras(clans).
However,we Maithils have proper persons(Panjikars or registrars who certifies that there is no blood relation for the fifth place from maternal side and seventh place from the paternal side) but there is no such record keeping system among Manipuris and they go by the knowledge of elders but do not marry where from mother or such relations come from which should be barred.
I asked them whether in my proposition of India's States reorganization they would come under Barak State with Shillong as the Capital covering Meghalaya, Mizoram,Manipur, Nagaland ,Tripura as well as Barak valley they asked me to put this view on their website www.e-pao.net
Manipur is derived from mani- jewel and in fat it is the jewel of Bharat and my several visits need booster for my familiarly with this land of great culture.
But now I am at so distant that managing leaves would be equally difficult but surely I would write Birendra to convene a meeting of the NMO so that I can visit there once more; once I had declared that my last part of life would be spent with Birendra but much time has passed out like water in the Brahmputra and though I asked those some of neo-Birendras of Jaynagar' Manipuri house to invite me in their marriage, I know I could not even attend my own marriage properly( sandwiched between two days of the NEC meeting of the NMO) and probably a video of a Manipuri marriage should be supposed to be sufficient for the time which I could see incidentally!