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Winds of change

By Rishikesh Sinha (Pink Floyd)

Although I don’t remember the complete line but I once met a backpacker from US in Shillong who had this to say with great disappointment "everywhere I travel I only find America." Well I would not like to dwell much on his philosophical conclusion as deep thought numbs me but obviously he was only expressing his sadness with people's fascination towards western consumerist culture and which people are lapping it up as if there is no tomorrow and thereby changing their outlook at the expense of their own rich culture.

Abheek Sinha
Take for instance the way the new cool kid Abheek Sinha’s (Bollywood fame) Gothic or Transsexual style statement with rings all over the face. There is no way you can now deconstruct a Bishnupriya Manipuri in a generic sense whether in terms of looks, sensibilities or habits as all boundaries are now being busted. In my time, it was difficult to reflect a rebellious and daring style statement with our sense of being Bishnupriya Manipuri. At best, I have sprouted a ponytail during my college days but my dad ruined it with his distasteful trenchant comment “hi de, Isalpa go para sot.” Though I did carry the Nazi Germany’s famed fanatic unit Schutzstaffeln (in short SS) bald head look for quite sometime after having discovered twisted Nazi ideology but to my dismay no one cared a hoot and instead became an object of ridicule.

Herein my objective of narrating Abheek’s style statement was purely metaphorical to reflect the changes we see in the society and not to take pot shots at him.( We all love him by the way.) Till a decade or so meat eating was considered a taboo at least in our villages but the myth has now busted. I was more attuned and aware of the idea of people indulging in their spiritually corrupt carnal pleasure of eating meat outside the confines of their homes but it shocked me no end to find today's youth bringing it to the confines of their village homes. Matters which was in Whispers has now become Bold and Loud.

Once again I wish to reiterate, I am not voicing my displeasure towards those who take meat as I am no Holy Cow either. I had my own shares of vices in my time (still do), have rebelled without purpose so that I look Hip and Cool and have also experienced near death owing to my experiment with Joints and Stuff (you name it). It is another matter meat eating is something I didn't do as my parents raised me like a true blue Bishnupriya Manipuri in my formative years; although by high school I thought of them to be alien but didn't have the heart to give a heart attack to my Dad. By the time I grew up and began to live independently, I never felt the urge.

Anyway, now coming back to the point, cross dressing, weird hair styles or taking taboo food does not shock us anymore.

Which brings to the pertinent question knocking my head what does it mean to be a Bishnupriya Manipuri in this fast changing times? Are we drifting apart from our spiritual ideals or we don’t care? What does the future hold for us as a community? Are we really going strong as far as our cultural, philosophical and spiritual development is concerned? Are we as a community really making an effort to leave a strong legacy behind? Do people and especially youngsters really believe, if we are really going to survive the next wave in a global assault of self-indulgent culture? What should be an ideal Bishnupirya Manipuri be? Are Inter caste marriage acceptable? Is conversion to other faith acceptable and if so is it right for the person to call himself/herself Bishnupriya Manipuri? Are same Gotra marriages acceptable? Will it be good if our community elect a spiritual leader in the lines of Dalai Lama or Catholic Pope? Do we really love our community or feel it as a burden for being born into it?

Politically, Is it morally right for a Bishnupriya Manipuri to vote for a overwhelmingly Bangladeshi Muslim party like AIUDF?

I have lot more serious questions but no clear answers yet.

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