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Literary festival to boost endangered language

- Two-day meet by Bishnupriya Manipuri Writers’ Forum begins today at District Library auditorium

A STAFF REPORTER

Feb. 17: Short film screening, interaction sessions and book releases — the two-day International Bishnupriya Manipuri Literary and Cultural Festival starting tomorrow — is expected to have it all.

Organised by Bishnupriya Manipuri Writers’ Forum at District Library auditorium, the festival aims to promote the Bishnupriya Manipuri language, enlisted by the UN as one of the endangered languages in 2009.

Writers in Assamese, Bengali, Hindi, Bodo, Deuri, Mising, Karbi, Rajbongshi, Mizo, Manipuri and Nepali languages have been invited to “establish an emotional bond among the groups as well intellectual and cultural exchanges” at the festival.

However, Bishnupriya Manipuri is gradually gaining importance during the past few years. It has around 15 poem collections, 10 novels and around 25 plays and uses Bengali script.

The president of the forum, L.K. Sinha, said there was a movement among a section of the Bishnupriya Manipuris to adopt the Devnagiri script, the original script of the language. “But we have not done it apprehending that such a step might take the community away from the Assamese and the Bengalis. Besides, Bangladesh and Tripura have also been opposing adopting Devnagiri script for our language,” said Sinha. He added that there was still a possibility of adopting Devnagiri script by the Bishnupriya Manipuris.

Sinha said distinguished writers, artistes, social workers and intellectuals from different parts of the country, especially from Assam, Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Calcutta, Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi would participate in the festival. Besides, representatives from Bangladesh, Australia and US will also attend the festival.

The Manipuri Theatre Group, well recognised in Bangladesh, will be the prime attraction of the programme. A number of senior artistes, writers and social workers from Agartala, Shillong, Guwahati, New Delhi, Calcutta, Manipur and Bangladesh will be felicitated for their contribution towards the development of Bishnupriya Manipuri language, literature, culture and society.

Sinha said in Assam, most of the Bishnupriya Manipuri population was concentrated in the Barak valley where their population was around 1.75 lakh. It is also taught in Classes III and IV in schools in the valley. “Besides, Bishnupriya Manipuris live in Tripura, Manipur, Meghalaya and Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, their population is around 75,000,” Sinha said.

The organisers of the festival said a 30-member delegation from Bangladesh had already arrived in the city for the festival.

Altogether 20 books will be released during the festival.

Courtesy: The Telegraph

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