Thursday, 31 January 2008

Those Winters Days And The Breakfast

Do you remember, in this winter season, exactly when you last had a meal with Leaur Pata and Bual fish hau (curry) popularly known as Leaua Buale served alongside hot-hottie rice! Well, frankly speaking I don’t remember when I last had this meal. Even if I had the same stuff now it wouldn’t meet the aroma and taste the water of my village used to carry. Damn sure of it!

Not enough! How is about taking pet bujia breakfast with Paltoi and chusor jit pura hukon in the early winter morning. It is absolutely mind blowing, Isn’t it! I don’t know about you, at my end these meals has remained, and are at the back of my brain - deep inside at the bottom.

Another aspect, again very special to me, had been eagerly waiting in the morning to eat the curry of the previous night in breakfast. The taste of the curry totally changes in the morning. It comes out fantabulous.

Again, a very special ingredient of the winter season, going with every meal is Fakitam. The smell of it is enough to incite the rat of your stomach, and so was mine.

Besides this, if there is something which excites me to the core in the winter is the feeling that is still well treasured in my memory were of those days, when I along with all my brothers used to share a bed under one quilt narrating stories of ghosts.

And the very next morning competing with the same brothers in breakfast of how many pura alu we had! Let me stretch your brain to the cosy, simple matir bahar chakamhan.

All these ingredients – Leaur Pata, Paltoi, Fakitam, Pura Alu and kitchen - push-pull me to spent these golden moments again among all my relatives and brothers. Really I long for those days.

Written by Rishikesh Sinha

Monday, 28 January 2008

Community You Belongs To Does Matter!

In India, ones community do tell a lot. The community you belong determines many things. It works as your social identity. How..

By Rishikesh Sinha, New Delhi

Friends, here is a story that I would never forget and it is related of myself being a Bishnupriua Manipuri. Being a Bishnupriya Manipuri does help, especially in a situation where you don’t have anything to show as your identity. And there the community you belong is taken as granted as your identity.

In places like Jammu and Kashmir, presently trouble torn state carrying an identity is compulsory for anyone. You don’t know when security personnel demands from you. Not to mention, security in Kashmir is a prime concern, especially for security personnel posted there.

Unfortunately, I have completed my schooling from this state at that time when terrorism was at peak. Not making the story long. Here it is ..

It happened that to collect my class 12 result I went to my school situated inside the highly guarded Kashmir Airport that is under Air Force. I skipped my school bus so that I can go later at day time and comfortably collect all necessary documents like mark sheets and character certificate..

But as soon as I entered the main gate after successfully impressing the stationed Air Force guard that I am a student of the school, he allowed me to enter after compulsory frisk on my body.

Two army personnel with AK series gun hanging on their shoulder came and started frisking me. Hell breaks loose when the metal detector started beeping signaling presence of explosives in my body. It took no time they had already pointed at me their guns- ready to shoot. In fear of death within seconds I blurt out my credentials like where my father works and which rank.

After my answers impressed the guards, as a ritual they took me to their superior. He was also impressed about my credential. He asked me the name of the place I belongs to and the caste.

I remember as soon as I unfurled B-I-S-H-N-U-P-R-I-Y-A M-A-N-I-P-U-R-I from my mouth. He got relaxed and ordered the guard to free me. The reason of my release I came to know when I turned my back and I heard the officer saying “ye log acche hote he…chod do..chod do” [they are good people…leave him].

It was a great escape, indeed, otherwise I would have been, God forbid, being in the list of “killed in cross firing”!

Here my story ends.


What Are Rituals?

What are rituals? Are rituals the dead remains of our ancestors? There are many questions associated with it that has to be addressed. It is still intriguing to many, and it is. It is one among many questions that has no answers.

Ranita Sinha, Kolkata

It is said that the soul does not die. There is a strong belief in Hinduism that there is life after death. But Christianity does not believe in re-birth. All these are mere assumptions or it may be rightly denoted as belief. There were debates and will always be regarding the cycle of birth and death.

We Bishnupriya Manipuri community, being a conservative community, follow an elaborate ritual on anybody's death. With utmost care and devotion all the customs are performed so that the soul of the deceased person may rest in peace. On the 13th day of the death the 'Shradh Ceremony' takes place.

On the day of Shradh, in our Bishnupriya Manipuri community, early morning the ritual of "Sajya Katkorani" is performed. During this ritual all the necessary items a person need for his livelihood like- bed linen, clothes to wear, towel, shoes, umbrella, woolen clothes, kitchen utensils etc are offered with the hope that the deceased does not face any problem in his life after death.

Most of the people offer these things as it is a custom prevalent from days of yore. No body raises any questions regarding this. Everybody makes the offering as per their capacity. Some again believe that these are rituals made by the Brahmins, because they are the ultimate receiver of these offerings.

Whatever may be the reason, on the day of the shradh ceremony of my father-in-law, all the offerings were done on the 13th day as per rituals. The kirtan which usually takes place the same day was to take place the next day. So, after the ritual of "Sajya Katkorani" was complete, everybody was satisfied as everything went smoothly.

Next day at break of dawn, all the family members were ready to go to the village temple(Malthep), where all day the kirtan would take place. Just at that time one of my cousin sisters-in-law came running in. She asked if the day before the tooth powder(Dabur lal danth manjan my father-in-law usually used) was put along with the other materials during "sajya katkorai".

Everyone was wondering what she wanted to know. My mother-in-law by the moment realized that the tooth powder was not put with the offerings. But than she asked my sister-in-law if she knew why did not she tell before.

To this, my sister-in-law replied that she did not know anything about the things put in the offerings. She came to inquire about the tooth powder because her 'Kaka'(my father-in-law) came to her dreams and said that since the tooth powder was not there, he was not able to clean his teeth.

Everybody was shocked to hear this. On our way to the temple a tooth powder was bought and put with the other things. But it did not end here. On the 1st death anniversary popularly known as "somboshori" again some offerings like bed linen, clothes. towels etc were done.

This time on the day of "sombosori" of my father-in-law, utmost care was kept so that nothing get missed out. Every minute details were crossed checked and end of the day everything went smoothly.

But on the 3rd day of "somboshori" at around 8 o' clock in the morning there was a phone call from one of my husband's cousin sisters, who was not able to attend the ceremony and who stays at a far off village. She talked with my mother-in-law and said that she had my father-in-law in her dreams where he told her that since he was given only a pair of vests he was not able to change.

To the astonishment of all, it was true that only one pair of vests was given. Same day another pair was bought and put before the idols in the temple, with the hope that Baba would receive it. These two incidents were shocking for the whole family. There was one question in everybody's mind , why Baba did not come and tell it to anybody from the family. But there was no answer to this question.

After reading this some might think that these were co-incidents. But how can there be two co-incidences? Whatever may be the reason but it is sure that these incidents made me think that there might be something in the rituals performed. Before this, me too believed that since the rituals were made by our ancestors we are supposed to follow.

Also one question crops to my mind- " Is there really something after death?"

The Life of Shri Shri Bhubneshwar Sadhu Thakur Remembered

By Rebati Mohan Sinha

On last 27th Jan.08, there was a meeting held in the house of Shri Debbrata Sinha at Hansol, Sardarnagar, Ahmedabad.Gujarat, where the Bishnupriya Manipuri of Ahmedabad were assembled for the first time to listen the life of Shri Shri Bhubneshwar Sadhu Thakur from Shri Rebati Mohan Sinha, the working president of N.B.M.MAHASABHA.

Welcoming the gathering, Shri R.M.Sinha, emphasised the outmost need of unity amongst the B.M. residents of Ahmedabad to follow any social/cultural/religious functions such as the celebration of Birth anniversary of Shri Shri Sadhu Thakur.He had given many examples of unity among B.M., and one of them was, a dead body of B.M. woman was lying in Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, for want of cremation and the only son who was present at the hospital bedside phoned up Shri R.M.Sinha, and he immediately gathered B.M. people in front of Tata Memorial Hospital for last rites of the woman. People present at the meeting were spellbound and agreed to form a sangathan to celebrate all social, cultural and religious functions from this year i.e. 2008 in Ahmedabad.

Now, the city of Ahmedabad also joining the club of B.M. like other metro-cities outside Assam and Tripura. Ahmedbad is the sixth metro city clebrating Birth Anniversary of Shri Shri Sadhu Thakur from this year.

Shri R.M.Sinha has express his gratitude, having given a chance to hear him so patiently and also he assured the gathering that whenever any need arises he would be with them in the next available moment. He, also thanked the people of Ahmedabad for contributing him towards his mission of spreading the message of Shri Shri Sadhu Thakur in every corner of India and abroad.


Sunday, 27 January 2008

Where the Bishnupriya Manipuri society is heading?

I was bit confused that day. Does worshipping God relieves one from the responsibilities to follow social and religious customs? I was juxtaposed what our Bishnupriya Manipuri society is becoming.

By Tridiv Sinha

I visit 'Malthep' not for religious purposes, but for meeting people. I'm not religious, but I am very much social. A few years back, when I was in my village, I used to go to Rath Pali. The elderly persons in our village pronounced a new rule in order to resurrect the old social customs. It was made compulsory that women/girls should wear Langou-Inafi; and men/boys wear Irufi.

I'm proud to say I followed the rules along with a few others. But I was shocked one day when one of my friends, whom I knew as a very god loving person coming in Jeans n T-shirt started laughing seeing my newly adorn dress. He knew me as an atheist, and he got surprised seeing me in a traditional dress. I made him clear that even though I'm not a religious man, I do respect social and religious customs whereas it meant not-of-concern to him, although he was very religious.

I was bit confused that day. Does worshipping god relieves you from the responsibilities to follow social customs? I don't know whether this happened in many places. But I was deeply hurt what our Bishnupriya Manipuri society is becoming. I won't advocate atheists, neither do I condemn worshipping. In my opinion, we should follow our social customs above all else, because it's not the religion that keeps us united, it's the society that unites us.


Friday, 25 January 2008

Bishnupriya Manipuri celebrates Republic Day

India is celebrating its 59th Republic Day, this special day is marked by several special events being organized by government as well as by the private institutions. This special day of our country holds a special place, since more than fun and frolic the day is witnessed by culmination of sport activities which takes place in the rural Bishupriya Manipuri villages.

By BN Sinha, New Delhi

It's a fact that there is cultural and sports club in most of the Bishnupriya Manipuri villages. These clubs generally organize all kind of sports activities in the respective villages; and the who is who of these clubs also holds some sort of power or authority in all the village issues. These clubs also play a significant role in the marriages taking place in the villages specially if the marriage is of a bride as it is a custom for groom party to pay some amount to the local club for developmental purpose , the term is known as " clubor chanda" though groom also has to pay on other fronts like "gathir dhan" etc.

Well , winter season is the ideal time for these clubs to organize its annual sports events as there are hardly any dedicated playgrounds in the villages , so winter is the time where there are empty paddy fields available in which these clubs can easily organize its events.

There are many indoor as well as outdoor games like Volleyball, Badminton, Cricket, Kabadi, High and Long jump, Long run, Bridge and Twenty Nine in cards, Carom board etc. There are some other interesting games specially for kids and girls like Musical Chair, Egg Run, Thread- Needle Run, Davo Upavaisya , Blind Hit and also Quiz competition etc. The club generally charge a very nominal amount from the participants as boys and girls from neighborhood villages also take part considering it an honour to won a prize from a club other than its own. Prizes for the games include trophies, medals, pen, pencil boxes etc. along with certificates.

All the activities run for at least a week which generally starts on 17th or 18th of January as the clubs targets Republic Day i.e., 26th January as its closing ceremony or prize distribution ceremony day. The prize distribution takes place after an interesting game called ' fancy dress" or " go as u like" where in the villagers participates and performs various characters with much enthusiasm and fun.

A special guest is invited for the prize distribution who sits in the center of the dais along with few olderly persons who keep a stronghold in the respective village. The function finally end with brief snacks and an elaborate lecture by the chief guest who points out all the village issues to the congregation present and also with a promise to be a guest of honor in the years to come…


Thursday, 24 January 2008

Motherhood With a Price Tag

Motherhood in every woman's life comes as the priceless moment. But is it so...there is a price tag attached to it.

By Ranita Sinha, Kolkata

Human nature always have an inclination to turn simple things complex. As we Bishnupriya Manipuri also fall in this category, how could we be lacking behind.Rather, it will not be wrong to say that we are a step ahead compared to others.

Earlier there was a custom prevalent in our society- where a pregnant lady was fed a meal by her parents on the 7th or 9th month of her pregnancy, with different kinds of delicacies of her choice. Also a few of the elderly relatives and neighbors were invited for the feast.

This custom is prevalent in almost all Indian communities. Bengali people call this Sadh Bhokhon. I do not know the exact Bishnupriya Manipuri term for this custom but in general it is called "Baat Khowani". I do not either know the exact motive or belief behind it but I find it very sweet and emotional gesture.

Earlier it was very simple. On the particular day of "Baat Khowani"the parents would visit their daughter's house with all the necessary arrangements for the feast. They would even bring persons to cook along with them and prepare everything by themselves.

Once the food was ready, it was first served for the would be mother. She, on the other hand was supposed to eat the food wearing the new clothes brought by her parents. After that the food was served to all. The invited relatives and neighbors start eating the food with good wishes and blessings for the would be mother and child.

But nowadays this simple and sweet custom is replaced by pomp and show of status. Now a new clause has been added to it, i.e. the custom to bring gifts(mainly cloths) for all the members of the family along with their daughter's. As it is known to all that most of the families in villages are joint and as such have many members and bringing gifts for all means an additional expense.

This custom may be affordable for a few well-to-do ones. But it is well known to all, as to how many well-to-do families we have in our community. So, most of the people of our society who lead a hand to mouth life, this gifting trend is an added burden and an unneccessary ritual yet we are sitting numb and it is gaining momentum drastically, mainly in villages.

Now parents think twice before going to their daughter's place for "Baat Khowani". Now instead of thinking themselves to be fortunate enough to be would be grand parents, most of them feel burdened.

The custom of gifting does not end here. As return gifts again the parents and relatives whoever comes are gifted with clothes or money. Thus, one can see how a plain and simple custom has been made complex and convoluted.

Slowly and steadily a day will come when this custom will loose all the sentiments and emotions added to it, because then it will be more of materialistic than emotional; and in this way someday this custom of "Baat Khowani" will loose its essence.


Monday, 21 January 2008

A Bishnupriya Manipuri Cuisine: Chinchu

By Ranita Sinha, Kolkata

A Bishnupriya Manipuri cuisine is not complete without a serving of Chinchu - the mouth watering Bishnupriya Manipuri salad. It is an essential serving in most of the Bishnupriya Manipuri households.

Though chinchu require much effort to prepare, yet it is popular as it is very healthy and because of its awesome taste compared to other ordinary salad. It is also full of nutrition.

Chinchu requires lots of herbs to be added to it. The main ingredients used for preparing this particular salad are – cabbage(banda kobi), papaya(khobol), budding mustard leaves(leur dem), green chilli and chana. But all these are not enough.

Lots of herbs are added to it. They are- phakpoi, tokpaningkong, pirihou, leihapor pata, telikodomor pata and telikodom seed, owar phakeitom, phakeitom etc.

For the preparation, first the vegetables and the herbs are properly cleaned and excess water is drained out properly. Then, the vegetables and herbs except, the papaya are finely chopped. After that the papaya is grated and mixed with the chopped herbs and vegetables. Also finely chopped green chillies are put into it.

After the chopping and grating part is over, the mixture is spread on a kula(used to clean rice) and put in the sunshine for sometime. A handful of chana is roasted on a tava and grinded. Just before serving the grinded chana and salt is mixed with the chopped ingredients and chinchu is ready to be served.

When the chinchu is put in the mouth one will find it aromatic and crispy and the taste is simply wowwwww! It tastes better when served with steamed rice and dal.

Update: By Rebati Mohan Sinha

The next early morning, on reaching home at my native place, from Mumbai,I saw a full grown ‘leur-gach-jar’ at the road side of our kichen garden. While looking at that, I suddenly remembered the article ‘Chinchoo’ written by Mrs Ranita Sinha. Immediately I went back home and picked up my camera to take the photograph of the shrub. As I was narrating the story, my aunt suddenly stood up and said that she would be preparing a chinchoo out of ‘leur- pata’ not with ‘leur-dem’. Really it was quite a delicious Bishnupriy Manipuri salad served on that day. Photographs of the shrub (leur gach)taken on that day has been sent for those, who never saw it earlier.


Sunday, 20 January 2008

Bishnupriya Manipuri Village Unplugged….

A visit to home that is after a decade evokes cornucopia of emotions and tons of reminisces. The village is not the same that it had been when I left...

By BN Sinha, New Delhi

It was probably first time in twelve years that I visited my native village in winters. Being in cities for livelihood make us very busy confining us to office to home culture, and finding time for vacation form the busy schedule is a bit tough. So visiting back home is always a once in a year affair and that too either in family occasion or in the time of durga pujas. And I always missed the feel of other seasons as for being gone only in a specific season. However , this time I got a chance to visit my home in the winter season , reason for was not very good though.

Bit of excitement was running on my head especially after reading Ranita’s article “Hot potato”. I was expecting to experience a fair amount of childhood days lost in villages. Days in my village are quite different now especially the winter noons when it was a common scene to see a sea of youths in the nearby empty paddy fields for spoting activity. Though in the afternoon few kids were engaged into playing cricket, but those special Bishnupriya Manipuri sports were totally absent like ones, gulla, bodi, bondi, redie etc . Though these sports started diminishing for quite a few years now , but array of youths used to be seen on the fields to play volleyball etc.

But nowadays , thanks to the cable TV, kids are now more engrossed into Cartoon networks, Pogos, Disney etc and teens with SMSs and mobile songs/ x rated video clips. And the elders? ..Well, they have phenomenally developed a nature of hostility towards one another. More of fuels are added by the “ Gaon Panchayat Election” that took place on early of this month in Assam. Almost all the villagers were on their toes with pulled up socks, canvassing for their candidates. There were at least 3-4 of candidates in every village for each post. The involvement was so intense among the villagers that a decades old friend and confidante of Mr. X did not hesitate to return the invitation of Mr.X to attend the funeral function of the later’s relative. In other incidence , even the family where Mr. X’s daughter was married also did not attend the funeral function. These all are just because their candidates were allegedly denied party tickets by Mr. X.. Very unfortunate.

There are n number of disgraceful incidents , notwithstanding some old threads are still alive. For example when all the women of a specific “leiki” married to elsewhere united, there were enormous jubilance and fun, as they again try to recall the old days like the “aalu bhaja”, korei cinchu, bironor pulao, leikir nigolor bandara” etc.

For a moment all the agonies of life were forgotten and witnessed a euphoric breath.
Though there differences among siblings were prominent , nevertheless some threads are still vibrant in Bishupriya Manipuri villages where we can find our parents still showing reliance on the guy next door whom we call kaka or dada, probably without having a blood relation as those kakas and dadas still happily and obediently performs all the “Leisi’s” by our parents…..

The typical Bishnupriya Manipuri village threads are still not lost altogether.. as there are people who still chants
Bhalobasa doya darade kongala, hridir porosh cheya cheya
Bulouri mi maanu bishareya, bulouri mi maanu……


Sunday, 13 January 2008

Biography of Pandit Motilal Sinha

There are many luminous artists of Bishnupriya Manipuri who have enriched the art and culture. Especially in music, in the galaxy of artist, Pandit Motilal Sinha's name comes first.

By BN Sinha, New Delhi

Pandit Motilal Sinha Bishnupriya Manipuri

With conceit I could say that there is no dearth of people who are associated 

with art and culture in our Bishnupriya Manipuri community. We have a rich cultural background especially in the field of dance and music. And whenever there will be any discussion about the contribution in Bishnupriya Manipuri music it will not be completed without mentioning the one of the greatest in the Bishnupriya Manipuri legends, Pandit Motilal Sinha's colossal contribution to enrich the Bishnupriya Manipuri art and culture. In my recent visit to Bhakatpur, my village, I had a close tete-a-tete with him.

Pt. Motilal was born in Bhakatpur, Silchar, Assam, in the year 1923. He was the third child of the then great Mridanga Badak , Sree Deveshwar Sinha and mother Smt. Kusum Leima Devi who was also a renowned artist of Bishnupriya Manipuri cultural songs and dance.

Brothers, Mohinimohan, Kunjolal, and Biresh, also had remarkable achievements in Bishnupriya Manipuri art and culture. From the very childhood, Motilal and his brothers were inclined towards music and drama as they were growing in cultural environment of his uncle who had a drama company named "Premsing Jatra Dal". "Premsing Jatra Dal" was famous in Cachar and Shyllete (of present Bangladesh).

Interestingly, famous Bishnupriya Manipuri legends like, Kunjolal Sinha , Guru Bipin Sinha, Guru Nilmadav Sinha, Behari Sinha, Golap Sinha. Surendra Sinha, Malu Miyan( Bangladesh) etc. all had their first brush in the field of art and music to this drama company.

Brother Kunjolal Sinha is happened to be the first artist to perform in All India Radio , Calcutta from Cachar , and first to record there. Motilal also followed the footstep of Kunjolal and went to Calcutta after qualifying entrance examination for Calcutta University in 1945. There, he met the Great film director Promothesh Boruah, who offered him for playback singing in his film “Ameri”.

Later in 1946 he went to Lucknow to pursue classical music under Bhatkand University, but he could not complete due to poor financial conditions. He came back in 1949 and married to Smt. Ramani Devi who later had a major contribution to make Motilal , the legend.

In fifties , Motilal performed Bishnupriya Manipuri songs written by great Jagatmohan Sinha in All India Radio, Gauhati. Some of the songs are : “ Janam Janame more, diya petheis hunar Monipure”, “Bishnupriya uthone osomoye gunjia thaile”etc..

He also actively participated in the famous “Bhakatpur Natya Sanstha” which was famous in packaged programmes in then Barak Valley.

Where as Guru Nilmadav taught Motilal Uchhanga sangeet and also Rabindra sangeet, guru Surendra also helped Motila in many ways to nurture in him to become a complete artist. In the year 1957 Motilal ranked third in all India examination from Morries Music College, Luknow under Bhatkande University and with special scholarship from Assam government. He passed Bisharad( B.Mus) in 1959.

In 1960 he joined as music teacher in Govt. Girls Higher Secondary in Silchar. He 

established Silchar Sangeet Ashram in 1962 and was also associated with cultural institutions of Barak Valley. In 1983-84 he ranked first in 7th yr of Bangia Sangeet Parishad and awarded “Sangeet Prabor”( M.Mus) with a gold medal. He had also performed in many places in India like Lucknow, Kanpur, Patna. Calcutta etc.

In the year 1987 he was rewarded with the best music teacher by Govt. of Assam. In 1997 he was awarded “ Bishnu Rava”. Alongside with the “Gokulananda Gitiswami Award”, he has also received innumerable felicitation and awards from organizations like Sangeet Chakra, Barak Upatyaka Banga Sahitya O Sanskriti Sammelan.

The most dignified title “ Pandit” was awarded by Bangia Sahitya Parishad , Calcutta in the Silver Jubilee celebration on 23rd May 2000. In 2002 he was awarded as “Sangeet Jyoti” by Uttar Purba Sangskritik and Arya Samajik Pratishtan. The award was handed over by the Governor of Assam.

Pandit Motilal has also written many songs in Bishnupriya Manipuri and Bengali. Many songs got publication in various language magazines. He has published books on classical ragas named “ Naba Raag Manjari I & II in Bengali which had been approved by D.P.I Assam Govt.and "Kusum Manjari" in Bishnupriya Manipuri language. Moreover, he has also composed many songs on dance dramas “ Baishnav padavali”, "Chitrangada", "Taser Desh" and many.

Few famous Bishnupriya Manipuri songs by him are “ Saloili Radha Vrindabone”, “ Borak pare joro oilu”, "Laktake kader”, Kalchinkhei bouyor piche” etc.

It is really not possible to illustrate in words the contribution and achievements of Pt. Motilal Sinha in Hindustani classical music. Even at the age of 84 he is still imparting Classical music, Rabindra Sangeet, Najrul geet, traditional and modern songs in Bengali and Bishnupriya Manipuri to thousands of his disciples.

In my pow-wow I learnt that though Sangeet Guru , Pandit Motilal Sinha, Sangeet Nipun( B.S.V, Lucknow), Sangeet Prabor( Gold Medalist) is certainly amongst the greatest of Bishnupriya Manipuri legends still having an iota of penitence for not being rewarded by Sangeet Natak Academy ,Govt. of India ,which he already would have received had he been a Bengali or a north Indian ??

Monday, 7 January 2008

Delimitation Commission and Bishnupriya Manipuri

The Delimitation Commission, established to readjust the territorial constituencies for both the Lok Sabha and the State Legislative Assemblies, under the chairmanship of Justice Kuldip Singh has submitted its report to the government of India in respect of 25 states of India covering over 513 Lok Sabha constituencies out of 543. So far the report has not included the 4 north eastern states. Sooner or later, when the report will be implemented, the changed political contours, perhaps, will change the future of Bishnupriya Manipuri living in Assam and Tripura. At least in case of Assam, it will change the political colour of the state. It has to be seen whether Bishnupriya Manipuri living in Assam will gain a bit political clout in the redrawn constituencies of the states or in Lok Sabha seats or it remains a submissive community?

Before we proceed further, let us know what the Delimitation Commission is all about?

Delimitation Commission or a Boundary Commission have been constituted 4 times – in 1952, in 1963, in 1973 and in 2002 under Delimitation Act, 2002. The decision of the Commission cannot be challenged before any court. So, we must pay attention to its details since once the report comes to force there is no point crying over split milk. Hoima..kita oil ta...amarta agaou nau huntara

Generally speaking the Commission would help Sechedule Castes and Schedule Tribes with the increase in their seats in state assembly and in Lok Sabha. The Commission doesn't support the aspiration of Other Backward Classes [OBC] or Most Other Backward Classes [MOBC]. So, there is no point discussing about Bishnupriya Manipuri living in Assam and Tripura since we come under the OBC status.

But the report has its own implications and has its affects on the community Bishnupriya Manipuri. One enjoing its fundamental right may have to cast his or her vote in a different constituency. Possibilites are there that the re-drawn constituency fragmenting our village, not allowing us to gain the momentum in the vote bank politics, thus crippling our strength.

As per the recent media reports, Silchar Lok Sabha seat is projected to be reserved for SC, while Karimganj may be de-reserved.

We must be conscious of the Commission's report since the future of the community very much lies in the findings. Rest we must get ready to pour our objections and suggestions, if any, when the Commission conduct public sittings before it is finalized. At the end...Habbi hoba oya asi


Saturday, 5 January 2008

Look Beyond

I do not find any valid reason for this ritual. As already on the day of the death of the husband an elaborate ritual of breaking the bangles of the wife, wiping her bindi and shedding colorful attire and wearing white clothes, the color of mourning is done. Are, all these act not enough, that her head is being shaved?

By Ranita Sinha, Kolkata

In a country like India, where so many ill practices like Sati Pratha, dowry system, female infanticide, child marriage etc are prevalent; I feel lucky and proud enough to be born in the Bishnupriya Manipuri community, where such ill practices does not exists.

But it will be wrong on my part to delineate our Bishnupriya Manipuri community free of any ill practices. It rather practices a more perilous one in the name of custom. It is –"the custom of tonsuring the head of a woman on the 12th day of the death of her husband". I feel indescribable pain, as I try to put in words this diabolical act.

A girl gets married with so many dreams in her eyes. She leaves behind all her near and dear ones for a stranger. Her life changes drastically after marriage. Her identity changes from somebody's daughter to somebody's wife. She stands by her husband through out his good and bad times. She is rightly called his soul mate.

But as life has its own course, it does not remain the same as always. Birth and death are the two ugly realities of life. Where there is life, there has to be an end to it. So, sooner or later a person has to meet his/her end.

In our society a wife who meets her end before her husband is said to be a SATI. But who looses her husband is seldom blamed to be a curse for him. But how can it be true that a woman, for whom she sacrifices everything, can ever be responsible for his death.

In every Hindu community, it is seen that the younger male lot tonsure their head on the death of an elderly in the family. It seems quite natural, as we are used to seeing it and it even does not make much difference because males often shave their heads at smallest pretexts- to save them from excessive heat, to look trendy etc.

But in our Bishnupriya Manipuri society, on the 12th day of the death of a person, the barber is called and along with the male lot the wife of the deceased is put forward to tonsure her hair. My heart stops beating when I think how she would have felt at that vary moment. As she was taught from her childhood that a girly character is not complete without beautiful long hair and that it is the dignity of a woman. How humiliated she would have felt from inside?

At that moment she already remains in acute trauma, with the thought of loosing her husband. Her loss cannot be compared with others. She who always had her husband by her side has all of a sudden become, alone. I wonder why her plight is being enhanced by such deeds. At the time, when she needs the love and support of her near and dear ones, they instead, compels her to follow, this inhuman ritual. This custom, I feel, must have bruised and battered her mind and soul.

I do not find any valid reason for this ritual. As already on the day of the death of the husband an elaborate ritual of breaking the bangles of the wife, wiping her bindi and shedding colorful attire and wearing white clothes, the color of mourning is done. Are, all these act not enough, that her head is being shaved?

I always heard about this custom but never faced one, until one day after my marriage I met two of my cousin sisters-in-law, who lost their husband at a very young age, with tonsured heads. I never met them before but the moment I saw them, I felt an unknown pain inside me. Then how come the people who know them for so long, did not feel the pain and compel them to do so.

When being asked the reason behind this inhuman ritual, I got the reply that it is a gesture on the part of the wife to show her love and respect for her husband and that she has lost the most precious person of her life. Also, that a woman who does not tonsure her head at the death of her husband is again reborn as a woman, that too of a lower caste.

I do not know if the reply I got was right or wrong. But does all this reason make any sense in today's world. Then will it be right to say that a woman who does not shave her head at the death of her husband does not loose anything or that she does not love or respect her husband, or she is in less pain. The answer will be a big NO, than also she will undergo the same pain but the only difference will be that she will feel less traumatized and less humiliated.

Can't this diabolical act be stopped? Can't there emerge from our society a Raja Ram Mohan Roy who would fight against such ill practice, as Raja Ram Mohan Roy fought against child marriage and fought for widow re-marriage. Can't, this act be stopped by passing a constitutional law, with the help of which SATI pratha was banned. Above all this, I feel, this act can only be stopped when the victim stands to her own resistance.

Dear reader, it is exclusively written on my point of view. If it hurts anybody's sentiment, I apologize. But, its my utmost plea to all, to at least have a thought on this issue. Does a woman not have the right to lead her life with dignity?

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