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Virtues of being a Bishnupriya Manipuri

By RKHL Sinha, New Delhi

My all early days memories dates back to early fifties, and here is one which I still cherish and it is somewhere deep inside my consciousness, and it will remain ever. The Bishnupriya Manipuri’s society, and not to mention my birthplace Mohanpur, was brimming with activities. There was a sense of unity, dedication, devotion, and it was visible, amongst all villagers.

These virtues were driving everyone from an individual, to individual house, to neighbourhood houses, to the whole village and later extending it to the neighbouring villages. And the same enthusiasm can be said about the Bishnupriya Manipuri community as a whole. This driving force, I believe, was preparing the framework of the coming generation.

The bonding amongst the villagers could be seen in the agricultural field. In those days agriculture was the primary source of livelihood of the Bishnupriya Manipuri community. During the agricultural season neighbours extending helping hands to their neighbouring houses was a common phenomenon. This gesture of assistance or say amity, if I am not wrong, was instrumental in infusing dignity of labour to the community member.

The women folk of the village played an important role at the time of reaping and harvesting of corps. Before the arrival of reaping and harvesting of the corps, they used to assemble and form a group that to render services in the paddy fields. The group served one purpose: each member got benefits turn-by-turn in a stipulated assigned period commencing from 7.30 AM to 12 AM.

Their presence in the field reverberate the whole feeza and that too in the early morning with their devotional songs. The collective echo of the songs seemed so sweet that it still rings in my ears. For me the songs were something that inspires us to do arduous task in the fields.

At evening the atmosphere of the village was found full of devotion. Men used to be at temple to offer Arati to God Sri Radha Krishna. Those who were eager to learn religious songs (Eshalpa), playing Mridanga (Dulak), Duwar and recitation of religious books (Leric Thipa) used to assemble at the houses of the respective Gurus and learn the nuances of the field.

Apart from performing religious celebration, an individual family dedicates Naam Yagya namely Sandhya Naam and Adibas with the help of numbers of Eshalpa, Dakula and Duwar of the community. The Naam mainly observes the peace of soul of departed heavenly fore fathers.

The Sandhya Naam used to start from early in the morning and finished at sun set continuously without any break. One time vegetarian meal was prepared by dozen of Brahmin offered to every devotee. In this occasion the host got tremendous help from villagers.

For Adibas, the Naam Sandya was started from evening and finished at next day sun set with the help of sufficient numbers of Eshalpa, Dakula and Duwar. Two times vegetarian meal was offered to every devotee. The attendance of devotees was much more than the Sandya Naam and hence the expenditure so incurred was very high to decorate the celebration in all respects.

Now coming to the present scenario, unfortunately, the enriched heredity of our Bishnupriya Manipuri community is rapidly proceeding towards its comma, for which every one should get awake well in advance and should render their good service for the cause of community, its culture.

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