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Sweet Home

In the passage of time if there is something that changes along with you, is your house. The sweet house where you spent your childhood days, it is quite sure, is different than the house you see now. Either the old house doesn’t exist; if it exists, it has been refurbished to the modern look and necessity.

By Ranita Sinha, Kolkata

Till one or two decades ago most of the Bishnupriya Manipuri houses had joint families. The houses used to be quite big with numbers of family members. Most of the houses had a big hall room in the middle of the house called 'dangor ghar' or 'bughgor kutha' and few bedrooms attached to the hall room which are separated by bamboo wall, whose doors had no system to close and were accessible to all 24x7. The only privacy maintained in the bedrooms were by hanging a curtain at the door tied with the help of a thin iron string or a cloth string. The kitchen was built at the rear end of the house. Almost all the houses had a vast varandah in the front which is either L shaped or had rooms on either side of it called the 'mankalor kutha' making the front of the house look like the alphabet “H”.

However, now the Bishnupriya Manipuri houses are no more having joint families. As days are passing the trend of nuclear family is gaining momentum. The joint families split due to many reasons - may be because of ones area of source of income, sometimes to provide better education to the children, sometimes may be because of too many members in a joint family etc., that an individual has to make arrangements for his own family. Whatever may be the reason, but nowadays, nuclear families are in the limelight.

Sooner or later most of the Bishnupriya Manipuris manage to build a house during their lifetime. Some are fortunate enough to manage to build a house during early days of their service tenure but mostly it is seen that they build it with the money they get after retirement as PF. It is not that a Bishnupriya Manipuri earns less than other community people and for that he is not able to build a house. But the main reason is that most of the Bishnupriya Manipuris are overburdened with liabilities which they have to prioritize, and by the time the liabilities are over they find that their service tenure also got over. So, money gained after retirement comes as the only source with which they manage to build a small and cozy house they dream to build for their children. They spent their entire saving of life to build the house.

Exceptions are few, unique feature that are found in the structure of most of the Bishnupriya Manipuri houses are the age old “L” pattern or “H” pattern. When first built the houses have nice outlook. But as years pass by and the children grow to the age of their marriage the pattern of the houses also change. Since the houses built are not enough to accommodate a new bride by providing a whole room exclusive to her, again a necessity, a new room is built attached to the main house. If the family had one son, the extension ends there. But it is again a rare case to have only one child and as such the extension of room keeps on taking place and once it is over the outlook of the house changes totally. Now, how the architecture of your house has changed from the first mark of memory – something refreshing, old memories tumbling out. Do share.

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  1. Madam Ranita...

    The uniqueness of choosing the topic is undoubtedly commendable...

    Good one.....nice read..

  2. Memory lane revisited...

    What a refreshing topic as always by Ranitadi...I jumped back to those old days when we used to stay in our Grandfather's house...We didn't had separate bedrooms...Just a big hall and another single room perhaps...The picture isn't clear as we left way back when i was 7 yrs old...My grandparents also moved on with us...They missed the earthly feelings in the building...Now i know wat they really missed...

    This reading brought back those memories after a long long time...

    I want to thank personally for that...


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