Friday, 20 April 2012

Firaal: a 21st century BM magazine

RK Rishikesh Sinha

Front cover of Firaal magazine
À magazine could be brought out without an office, without a dedicated team of writers and copyeditors, and even without a body; hitherto without any whereabouts of fund. A team of faceless persons connected by World Wide Web participate, contribute and collaborate and they come out with a magazine. All the planning and strategy has taken place over Internet and the release of the magazine is simultaneously held in Guwahati and Silchar. Firaal, the publication of Facebook group Bishnupriya Manipuri Discussion Forum (BMDF), is a classic example of crowdsourcing.

Firaal has the composition of 21st century elements: Speed and Mass. Speed at which the magazine has been processed and made public, and the mass of people involved makes Firaal a truly 21st century magazine. Any reader would find in it the continuity of the past, but at the same time would find a tinge of experiments done for the future. The contents of the magazine would surely content any Bishnupriya Manipuri world over.

Release of Firaal at Guwahati

Why the name Firaal? (Firaal)… “is the symbol of peace that represents the inner characteristics of the people belonging to the (Bishnupriya Manipuri) society” writes Mihir Lal Singha from Bangladesh. Mihir has rightly defined the perspective following which the name of the magazine Firaal has been coined. Firaal, the flag, expresses many thoughts and messages of the Bishnupriya Manipuri mass.

The 100-page magazine is truly a manifestation of the Bishnupriya Manipuri mass. With its stark rawness, it brings forth the wishes and aspirations of common Bishnupriya Manipuri men and women. Firaal emphasizes that the period of rawness has come. It articulates rawness and should be the hallmark of a 21st century literary creation.

New Script
Many writers have jotted down imar thar in Roman script. Henceforth, Firaal has enunciated a new era where Roman script in Bishnupriya Manipuri language has been corroborated. In its inaugural magazine, it gives an impression that the thought has been given due advantage than getting into trouble spot of scripts.

International magazine
Keeping the diversity of the Bishnupriya Manipuris in context, Firaal is more encompassing and inclusive in its approach. The topics chosen are of wide range from general interest stories to Bishnupriya Manipuri-centric issues, to faagi yaari (humour), to travelogue, to soul-searching feature articles, to interviews. Tastes and preferences of the readers has been given due priority. 

image courtesy: BMBooksGallery
Pratibha Sinha

Bishnupriya Manipuri publication released

GUWAHATI, April 19 – Bishnupriya Manipuri Discussion Forum (BMDF) celebrated a historic event by releasing the inaugural issue of its bilingual publication titled Firaal.

This publication is a collective team effort of the cyber-savvy generation of the community where they have tried to express their revolutionised thought process and deep concern for their community and culture by creating a global village on the web world, thus reducing mental barriers.

The function was brainstorming with active participation of the members of BMDF, intellectuals and litterateurs of the community.

Releasing the magazine, Dr Smriti Kumar Sinha of Tezpur University appreciated the initiative taken by the BMDF group. He highlighted the advantages of internet and the communication media.

Litterateurs and social workers Dils Lakshmindra Sinha, Col (retd) Bijoy Sinha, former Prof Kamini Mohan Sinha, Sushil Sinha, Sunil Kumar Sinha, Ramlal Sinha, Ranjit Sinha, Narendra Nath Sinha and Prof Dr Nalini Kumar Sinha spoke on the development of Bishnupriya Manipuri literature.

BMDF members Mousumi Sinha, Samar Sinha, Amir Sinha and Sunit Sinha also spoke on the occasion, sharing their experience and opinion on the publication released. Pratibha Sinha delivered her speech on behalf of the entire team. The concluding speech was delivered by Pronab Sinha.

Master Ritwick Sinha, who happens to be the under-11 champion of PC Baruah Age Group Chess Championship 2012, read out a poem while child artist Sweta Sinha presented a song.

In another function at Silchar, Firaal was released by Chandrakanta Sinha. The occasion was graced by popular litterateurs and social workers, namely Jugendra Kumar Sinha, Banabeer Sinha, Mathura Sinha, Jyotiprokash Sinha, Reeta Sinha, Suchitra Sinha, Sameer Sinha, Ashukanti Sinha, Dilip Kumar Sinha, Kanchanboron Sinha, Ranjit Sinha, Sudhanyo Sinha, Brajokishore Sinha and Madhu Rajkumar.

Photo Courtesy: Pratibha Sinha

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

BMDF function turns brainstorming

Post Bureau

GUWAHATI, April 17

The Bishnupriya Manipuri Discussion Forum (BMDF) programme on the occasion of the release of the inaugural issue of its magazine, ‘Firaal’, turned out to be a brainstorming session with active participation by the members of the cyber-savvy yuppie generation in the community. The Generation Y tried their best to gauge the pulse of senior members of the community, some of whom are decision makers when it comes to wellbeing of their fellow members.

Releasing the magazine, Tezpur University professor Dr Smriti Kumar Sinha reflected on the internet and the benefits of its application in all spheres of personal and community life. On the current divisive wave that is delivering a near deathblow to the wellbeing of the community, Dr Sinha said: “It’s emotional illiteracy that always drives a wedge among the community members at a time when they badly need to work and fight unitedly. Emotional literacy is an area that we need to cultivate so as to be able to hammer out consensus on disputes.”

While litterateurs Dils Lakshmindra Sinha, Col (retd) Bijoy Sinha, Sushil Sinha, Sunil Kumar Sinha, Ranjit Sinha and Narendra Sinha talked of literature and literary development, Dr Nalini Sinha, a professor of North Eastern Hill University, rued the failure to use Bishnupriya Manipuri words which, according to him, continue to disappear in the vagaries of linguistic and cultural onslaught of the time.

In his presidential address, Professor Kamini Mohan Sinha brought the attention of the gathering to the basics of survival of the community that is at stake under the present socio-politico and demographic pattern in Assam and some other states in the northeast. Prof. Sinha made it clear in no uncertain terms that the security threat to some of the far-flung and isolated villages of the community under ‘unfavourable’ demographic situation in the Barak Valley in Assam is a serious matter to reckon with.

On behalf of the BMDF, Pratibha Sinha, Mousumi Sinha and others gave a glimpse of their determination and enthusiasm to do something that can rescue the community from its present state.

Courtesy: Seven Sisters Post

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Tagore play leaves Agartala spellbound

P Das, Agartala (Apr 7): Agartalites were left spellbound by a scintillating performance of a young artist of the Bangladesh Manipuri theatre group that staged Tagore’s poetry play ‘Debotar Grash’ at the Nazrulkala Sethra.

The show was a part of the joint celebration by India & Bangladesh to showcase the works of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore on his 150th birth anniversary.

The story, based on a simple theme, incorporated a message that humanity is a sublime virtue.

The tale depicts the epic voyage of a group of people in which a widowed mother and her son were returning home after attending a ritualistic festival but faced a tempest.

Among the travellers was a priest who was caught in a dilemma. He tried to divine if the cause of the tempest was a result of his failure to keep his word to God.

The priest, in order to appease the gods, threw the child into the waters but realising his mistake jumped in the churning waters to save the child, but his efforts went in vain.

The performance was very rhythmic and the experimental use music on Tagore’s music rendered in Manipuri mesmerized the gathering on Friday.

Directed by Subhasis Sinha, the staged drama in Bishnupriya Manipuri language kept theme of the story originally written in Bengali unchanged.

Though Manipuri is not a very popular language here and very few people among the audience knows it or could comprehend the dialogues; the incorportation of musical elements helped the audience in understanding the theme of the story. The actors dressed in traditional manipuri attire used various elements of dance, culture to narrate Tagore’s original creations. It was the 15th show of the ‘Debotar Grash’ and lead caster of the play included Jyoti Sinha (mother), Kumar Singha (brahmin) and Sunanda Sinha (rakhal). As a tribute to Rabindranath Tagore, artists of India and Bangladesh have begun jointly performing various cultural shows, including drama, on the themes penned by the bard.

Tripura chief secretary Dr Sanjay Kumar Panda inaugurated the two-day festival organized by the Birchandra Library in association with the Information and Cultural Affairs department of Tripura. “The programme is part of cultural diplomacy between India and Bangladesh which shares cultural and linguistic affinity and such programme shall bring closer the people of two nations as people to people contact enhanced through them,” said Panda. Manipuri Theatre of Bangladesh, formed 16 years ago, is also scheduled to stage “Debotar Grash” in Silchar in southern Assam while another Bangladeshi cultural organisation will perform programmes in Shillong and Agartala.

Courtesy: Seven Sisters' Post

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Maitree Bandhan brings brotherhood on stage

KOLKATA: The second lap of Maitree Bandhan, the joint initiative between The Times of India and Bangladesh's leading newspaper Prothom Alo, kick-started with a bang on Saturday and the timing - a Nobobarsho evening - couldn't have been better to bring blood brothers India and Bangladesh together.

So if the first part of the initiative was celebrated with music of the two countries, the second phase promises to be a literary festival where there will be the best of theatre, literary discussions, readings and performances. The festival started with two plays - Kahe Birangana, an adaptation of Michael Madhusudan Dutta's Birangana Kabya based on the leading women of Mahabharata, and Samudrer Mouna, a play by Koushik Sen's theatre group Swapna Sandhani.

Kahe Birangana - a Bishnupriya Manipuri play - has been created by Shubhashish Sinha from Bangladesh. Since it is difficult to translate Michael's Bengali idioms into Manipuri, the original Bengali verses were used with Manipuri dance forms in the four parts that were staged. Each part spoke about the valour of the women in question - her passion, her anger, her love and finally her insurmountable pain after she loses her most loved possession. It spoke of Shakuntala, Draupadi, Dusshala and Jona.

All the four parts were played by Jyoti Sinha. The audience was captivated by her stellar performance as she moved effortlessly from one mood to another and from one character to another. At one moment she was playing the distraught Dusshala crying her heart out for her dead son Abhimanyu. A moment later, she was the valiant Jona accusing husband Niloddhoj for making peace with the victorious Arjun.

The second play - Samudrer Mouno - was an adaptation of French wartime novel The Silence Of the Sea. The English version of the play was translated by Bengali poet Bishnu Dey. In 2005, Kaushik Sen adapted the Bengali version for his play.

As usual, Sen enthralled the audience as the Nazi officer who came to stay in the house of a German gentleman and his niece as Germany took over France. This officer was different from the run-of-the-mill captor. He dreamt that one day Germany and France would be friends and the war would stop forever. Unfortunately, that remains his distant dream and he realizes that ultimately.

However, despite the officer's best efforts he is unable to break the silence of the gentleman and his niece. The woman finally speaks to him for the first time to wish him adieu when the officer prepares to leave.

Sen was able to take the audience to the phase when Hitler ruled and Germany raged in a war-torn world. By the end of the play, Sen's portrayal of the officer torn between his duty and his heart succeeded in hypnotizing all who were present at GD Birla Sabhagar, where the second phase of Maitree Bandhan kicked off.

Courtesy: The Times Of India
Photo Courtesy: Swapan Kumar Sinha

Friday, 13 April 2012

High-level inquiry demanded into the affairs of ME school

From our Special Correspondent

SILCHAR, April 12: Bishnupriya Manipuri Students’ Union, Bishnupriya Manipuri Ganasangram Parishad and Bishnupriya Manipuri Krishak Sangstha have demanded high level inquiry into the affairs of Bhubaneswar Nagar ME school in Katigorah area of Cachar district. These organizations have brought to the fore various irregularities and anomalies of the school in question in respect of the administration as well as the management. The demand for inquiry was raised in a memorandum submitted by these bodies to the Chief Minister of Assam, Tarun Gogoi, on Wednesday here.

Gopi Das Sinha, member, Assam State Linguistic Minorities Development Board and Chief Adviser of Bishnupriya Manipuri Students’ Union, has alleged corruption in connection with the provincialization of venture schools in Cachar district in which the district elementary education officer, Kabil Uddin Ahmed, block elementary education officer of Katigorah block, Dilip Kumar Deb and other clerical staff of DEEO office are, according to him involved.

He further alleged that due to their negligence and involvement, two teachers of the school were forced to go on fast unto death in the month of February last. It indicated the involvement of the persons named by him in corruption.

Gopi Das Sinha pointed out that the inquiry report of the district administration has established without any doubt the fact that the headmistress and the secretary of the Bhubaneswar Nagar ME School submitted particulars of undeserving teachers for provincialization of their services by fabricating and manipulating the records. It was strange that despite the report of the district administration, the district elementary education officer and the block elementary education officer have not taken any action against the headmistress. He sought the intervention of the Chief Minister in the matter to cause high level investigation so that action could be taken against the officers concerned as well as the headmistress of the school at the centre stage of controversy.

Courtesy: Sentinel

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Amlan, Ritwick, Rishita win titles in PC Borooah chess

Winners of PC Borooah Age Group Chess Championship.

GUWAHATI, April 8: Amlan Mahanta of Kendriya Vidyalaya, IOC, Ritwick Sinha of Don Bosco Guwahati and Rishita Sinha of St Mary’s High School clinched titles in the U-17, U-11 and U-7 categories respectively of PC Borooah Age Group Chess Championship concluded here today. The championship was organised by PC Borooah Chess Academy at its own premises where 52 students from the city based schools took part. The meet was organised in six-round Swiss League.

In under-17 category Amlan Mahanta of Kendriya Vidyalaya, IOC won the title with 5.5 points from 6 rounds while Simran Ahmed of St. Johns School scored 4.5 points from same number of round to claim second position. Anubhav Deva Sarma of Maharishi Vidya Mandir and Rishav Deuri of Don Bosco School, Guwahati scored 4 points each and placed 3rd and 4th respectively on the basis of their tie-break score.

In Under-11 category Ritwick Sinha of Don Bosco School scored 5.5 points from six rounds to win the title. Kaustav Kalita of Don Bosco School, Guwahati, Manthan Kashyap Datta of Axel Public School and Kunal Kalita of Don Bosco School got 3rd and 4th positions respectively.

In U-7 Category Rishita Sinha of St Mary’s HS School scored 3 points to be champion. In this category Akanksha Das of Delhi Public School, Guwahati got second position while Prayash Kashyap of Sarala Birla Gyanjyoti School and Ashlesha Talukdar of Euro Kid got 3rd and 4th Position Respectively.

Results: U-17: 1st Amlan Mahanta, Kendriya Vidyalaya, IOC, Noonmati (5.5 points); 2nd Simran Ahmed , St Johns School (4.5 points); 3rd Anubhav Deva Sarma, Maharishi Vidya Mandir, Rajgarh (4 points); 4th Rishav Deuri, Don Bosco School, Guwahati 4 Points.

U-11: 1st Ritwick Sinha, Don Bosco School, Guwahati (5.5 points); 2nd Kaustav Kalita, Don Bosco School, Guwahati (4.5 points); 3rd Manthan Kashyap Datta, Axel Public School (4.5 points); 4th Kunal Kalita, Don Bosco School, Guwahati (4.5 points).

U-7: 1st Rishita Sinha, St Mary’s HS School, Guwahati (3 points); 2nd Akanksha Das, Delhi Public School, Guwahati (2 points); 3rd Prayash Kashyap, Saral Birla Gyanjyoti (1 points); 4th Ashlesha Talukdar, Euro Kid.

Courtesy: The Assam Tribune

Bengal theatre is still acting driven: Shuvashis Sinha

Shuvashis Sinha
Shuvashis Sinha had formed a theatre group in Bangladesh when he was 18. Now, at 33, he is coming down to Kolkata for the first time to stage " Kohe Birangana" - an adaptation of Michael Madhusudan Dutt's "Birangana" - as part of the Maitree Bandhan Literary Festival presented by The Times of India. Excerpts from an interview with the director:

How did your journey of forming Manipuri Theatre being?

I am a Manipuri based in Bangladesh and there are close to 70,000 Manipuris in this country. Soon after clearing my Class XII exams, I decided to form a theatre group. At present, my group has 50 members between the age group of 15 and 40. In our 15 years of theatrical journey, we have staged 27 plays, including "Sree Krishna Kirtan", "Bhanubil" and "Debotar Gras".

Isn't language any barrier when you are performing to an audience that doesn't understand Manipuri?

We perform in a language called Bishnupriya Manipuri. Beyond linguistic communication, our theatre comes alive with voice modulation and physical drama. I have adapted Michael Madhusudan Dutt's Birangana Kavya and since it is difficult to translate his Bengali idiom to Manipuri, we decided to go with the original verse and add our Manipuri dance movements. The play articulates four verses among 11 from the original text. Jyoti Sinha will be playing four different characters - Shakuntala, Draupadi, Dushala and Jona - in the play. Apart from her, the play will also have four other dancers on stage.

Having done your Masters from the Jahangirnagar University in dramatics, why don't you feature in your plays?

During my early days of theatre, I used to act as well. We are a rural group and there are lots of challenges that we need to negotiate. It's become difficult to direct and act simultaneously.

How connected are you with the theatre scene in India?

As a student in Dhaka, I watched performances by Indian groups. Last year, I was in Santiniketan to attend a workshop in dramatics. I have loved the plays of Saoli Mitra, Swatilekha Sengupta, Rudraprasad Sengupta, Manoj Mitra, Bratya Basu, Kaushik Sen and Bibhas Chakraborty. I wish, I could see live performances of Utpal Dutt and Sombhu Mitra.

Is there any difference between the way India and Bangladesh approaches theatre?

Theatre in Bengal is still very acting driven. We are trying to experiment in terms of design by merging idiom used in folk and urban performance arts. That trend hasn't yet kicked off in Bengal yet. I wish we could stage an Indo-Bangla collaborative theatre production that will see a marriage of great acting and experimentation with form. It would be ideal if we can stage Tagore's "Raja" or "Dak Ghar" in this format.

Courtesy: Times of India
Photo Courtesy: Facebook

Friday, 6 April 2012

Making of the Steelframe

Delhi Diary
By RK Rishikesh Sinha

In the din and bustle of Mukherjee Nagar in New Delhi, the throng of Civil service aspirants rejuvenates every passerby. The innumerable bookstalls, Photostat centres and the boys distributing leaflets for various coaching centres makes one get easily into the groove of competitive examination fever.

25 gaj homes with one room and one kitchen, crowded lanes and markets, all witness the conquering vigour of young minds in the form of unending discussion. If you eavesdrop, you will hear tricks and fundas to crack almost all examinations whether it is Civil service or SSC. You will read handwritten messages like “Need a roommate/ flatmate. Only Civil service aspirant, Call…”. Their endless conversations stretch to diverse fields from politics to economy, from history to literature…you take a walk and you will surely hear various topics of discussion that are brewing around you. You feel these examinations are not hard to crack. You have to just follow their so-called steps religiously.

And if you incidentally converse with any one of them, you will unexpectedly come to know the person you are talking to have passed many such toughest examinations twice or thrice…and still striving for the ultimate goal. Their perseverance and belief shake your disbelief. Often, it seems appearing and passing in any all-India level examination, is a fundamental right for these candidates which they want to exercise again and again! Their unwaveringly confidence of the preparation make them quiet perceptive to predict their result before sitting in the examination. They know the dynamics of these examinations.

The air at Mukherjee Nagar makes you feel the two worlds that exist in India. One world where students confidently cherish the only wish to appear in the toughest competitive examinations one after another; and the other, where young graduates can’t even imagine these examinations. For them, taking the names of these examinations would break out in a cold sweat.

This is Mukherjee Nagar in New Delhi where aspirants from all over India with dreams in their eyes come to prepare themselves to crack the Civil Services examination. The local economy sustains and supports the big student community by providing them everything from room to bookshops, to vegetable market, to coaching centres, to Photostat shops.

The marketing strategies being adopted by coaching centres is worth to mention. No space is left vacant in single wall or pillar. With the announcement of any all-India level examination, Batra, the main business centre, get baths with pamphlets. GTB Nagar Metro Station, the nearest metro station to Mukherjee Nagar welcomes you with eye-catching advertisement with the names and photographs of successful candidates with their All India Rank (AIR).

Once asked a candidate what drives him to pursue this unpredictable fate resigning his secure government job, the quick reply will break your myth, it’s not the salary but, “it is something beyond it…the post and the drilling itself”.

You ask them: How one should start preparing for the all-India level examination? “Start with NCERT books …this will clear the fundamentals of your preparation…and simultaneously go on with …(the names of books)”.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Shastriya sangeet exponent no more

Post Bureau, Silchar/Guwahati (Mar 31): Renowned Shastriya Sangeet (Uchchangik) exponent from the Barak Valley and gold medalist (1983-84) from the Bangiya Sangeet Parishad, Calcutta Guru Motilal Sinha breathed his last at 10 pm on Friday at his Bhakatpur residence on the outskirts of Silchar town.

Born in the family of Ojha Deveswar Singha and late Kusumleima Devi on Poush 11, 1330 Bangabda, Motilal Sinha had his graduation in vocal music (Bisharad in Shashtriya Sangeet) from Bhadkhande, Lucknow and master’s degree (Nipun with gold medal) from the Bangiya Sangeet Parishad, Calcutta.

In 1960, he started teaching classical music (vocal) at Silchar. He had a long stint in the Silchar Sangeet Vidyalaya as its honorary principal since 1960. He also worked in Government Higher Secondary and Multipurpose Girls’ School, Silchar, and retired in 1985.

He had received the Assam State Award as an ideal music teacher. He had a stint in conducting a programme on the teaching of Rabindra Sangeet in the All India Radio station at Silchar.

He was also a regular singer of All India Radio, Guwahati for a long time. His wife predeceased him. He leaves behind three sons and four daughters. The Bishnupriya Manipuri Writers’ Forum and various other organisations condoled the death of the singer.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Internet: Bishnupriya Manipuri's New Domain

By RK Rishikesh Sinha

The UNESCO paper Language Vitality and Endangerment identifies many factors to characterize a language’s overall situation. The one factor among it that is the Response to New Domains and Media is very interesting at the present moment for the Bishnupriya Manipuris to vitalize the language. Since Internet as a new domain for engagement has recently come up frenziedly; and other probable new domains like school, media, and new work environments that the paper mentions has not being created yet. The only new domain that has been participated vigorously is Internet.

According to recent Google’s search report, a tsunami of Bishnupriya Manipuris have reached the Internet shores and they have googled “Bishnupriya Manipuri” in the search engine. The “Bishnupriya Manipuri” search term starts appearing from February 2010 onwards and reached its peak in December 2011. Before 2010, the volume of search (people searching the term “Bishnupriya Manipuri”) was not enough for Google to show results. But post 2010, there has been consistent and steady growth. A piece of good news which has got many ramifications!

Going by the UNESCO paper, the degree of endangerment for Bishnupriya Manipuri language probably falls in the bracket of “coping” language i.e., the language is used in some new domains. Here the new domains could be movies, songs, and peoples’ engagement in the Internet.

We could very well use the Internet domain and mold it to bring vitality to the Bishnupriya Manipuri language by creating — web media, language tutorial, a platform of discussion and debate, a storehouse of music, films, and literature — and also by launching Bishnupriya Manipuri-centric products and utilities; henceforth bringing more active and passive “Bishnupriya Manipuri” interaction among the netizens.

The paper cites, “A language is in danger when its speakers cease to use it, use it in an increasingly reduced number of communicative domains, and cease to pass it on from one generation to the next.” Presently, when there is a huge Bishnupriya Manipuri diaspora all over the world and in various states of India, creating and maintaining a robust Bishnupriya Manipuri communicative domain is the pressing need of the time. Since Bishnupriya Manipuri language “embodies the unique cultural wisdom” of us. Its loss is “a loss for all humanity”. Though there is no lurking danger of its extinction, enrichment of the language with extensive use is important. 


In this initiative, Learn Bishnupriya Manipuri Language Online is public now. It will help to learn Bishnupriya Manipuri language through English, Hindi, Bengali and Assamese and vice versa. Besides, it creates a repository of Bishnupriya Manipuri words and phrases.

Bisarei-The Bishnupriya Manipuri Search Engine- has collated news and information related to Late Tripura Health Minister Bimal Sinha.
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