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‘Prena’ hits the shelves

Topo Singha

Prerana, a little multi-lingual cultural magazine with no little vision, hit the shelves at a very small and simple yet highly brainstorming session at Nilachal Kala Kendra, Beharbari, Guwahati on Sunday (April 7, 2013) with former SCERT, Assam director Kumkum Singha in the chair. Yes, it can rightly be termed as a brainstorming session as and when the line of thinking, not without contrast, that emanated from some serious thinkers for the propagation of an endangered language and literature is taken into consideration. 

Releasing the magazine, Tezpur University professor and writer Dr Smriti Kumar Sinha spelt out the way of bringing people, separated by the multiplicity of nature, together. “Translation works can break the barriers or bridge the ditches that keep us apart from one another,” the professor said. According to him, diversity is the gift of nature and it’s the man who has to strike a chord in order to make unity in diversity possible in every sense of the phrase. Giving a detailed account of RN Tagore giving the Manipuri culture a leg up and pushing it to where it is today, the short story writer of repute said: “Tagore’s relationship with the Manipuri culture was symbiotic. While the Manipuris (both Bishnupriyas and Meiteis) are benefitted by the leg-up given to their culture in the world’s cultural arena, Tagore and the entire Bengali community were benefitted as that move filled the vacuum of a dance form of repute in the otherwise advanced Bengali community. Rabindrik dance and songs have many an element from Manipuri dance and songs.”

On the role of little magazines in the propagation of language and literature, the professor said in the shortest possible words: “We still remember the significant role of Jagaran (1925) in the propagation of BM language and literature. Though Jagaran is no longer with us in a visible form, it has been very much with us in the avatar of The Manipuri, Khashtriyajyito, Mekhali, Fagu, Pratishruti, Nua Dristi, Firaal, Folal, Prerana and other little magazines of the community. The pulses of Bishnupriya Manipuri language and literature and that of any other minor languages and literatures make their presence felt in little magazines.” The professor’s speech received a laudatory word from the president when she said: “What we have something concrete with us today (liksoidal) is the collection of the bids (liksois) that have been left behind by such little magazines.”

Noted litterateur Sushil Kumar Kumar Sinha, while throwing light on culture, said that fear led to pujas that, in course of time, were elevated to culture and social setups. “It’s culture that has made the striking difference between the man and other living beings,” he said.

Firebrand in his style and approach, Col (retd) Bijoy Sinha, giving a detailed account on culture, said: “The Bhakti movement leaders like Sri Chantanyadev, Mohapurush Srimanta Shankardeva, Shankarracharya others had made the development of their respective regional languages a point while achieving their religious goal. They did it through the translation of religious scripts into their respective mother tongues. I, however, don’t know as to why the recent three-day congregations of the Radha-Madhab Sebapuja Committee organised in Patherkandi made no deliberations on the development of language and literature of the community.”

Col Sinha also rued the fact that even today most of BM esulpas are not in a position to sing in kirtans and shraddha in their mother tongue. He seemed to have been fed up with the ‘monotonous’ Bishnupriya Manipuri songs that are mostly Radha-Krishna centric. “... due to lack of varieties, BM singers continue to sing the same ‘Jedeshe Nitai nai se deshe na jabo’... in all occasions like marriage, khechurir pali, in shashtipujas, shraddha, kirtans and the like...,” the writer said. This statement from the writer earned a feeble opposition from litterateur Sushil Kumar Sinha who gave his own interpretation on the matter with much applause from the gathering. The writer of this piece too backed Sushil Sinha on this count. Social activist and writer Shanti Sinha rued the fact that the BM community has thinkers most of whom don’t write. From his practical experience in running a bi-lingual, Nua Dristi, the writer made it known in no uncertain terms that ‘without social thinkers and poets contributing write-ups it’s next to impossible to run a newspaper or magazine’. 

Writer and artist Sunil Sinha said that the cultural talents in the community needed platforms for the development of their skill. He said that the community is in the need of an own TV channel.

Writer and social activist Pratibha Sinha said: “The pratibha (talent) of the speakers of the day continued has added much to her own pratibha (talent).” She was delighted to have attended the function.

Dance guru Bibhul Kanti Sinha gave an account on wrong notations being used in BM Rasalila. He said that he could stage a folk dance based on the rain-making song that had been originally composed by late Ashwini Kumar Sinha. He, however, said that he has made some modifications in the original form. He is now choreographing a folk dance on BM weaving.

Noted artiste Rabi Sinha (Ashutosh) gave a detailed account on the falling standards of BM Rasalila and other songs due to deviation from the right raghas and notations. He laid stress on the development of folk dance and songs.

The meeting concluded with a one-liner from the president – the loss of culture is the loss identity. On a positive, she, however, said: “There’s is no question of losing our culture. We continue to live and work keeping this hope alive.” 

Prerana, with Raj Chandra Sinha (Ranu) as the chief editor, is a multilingual cultural magazine to cater to the cultural aspects of Bishnupriya Manipuri, Assamese, Bengali, Bodo and other communities in the Northeast. 


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