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E-Pao! EI - Manipur- the Mani (Jewel) of India

Manipur- the Mani (Jewel) of India

By: Dr. Dhanakar Thakur *


I had no intention to talk to that Manipuri boy talking on a mobile phone who was living on ground floor of that Jayanagar (Bangalore) house where I had stayed six months in Dhirenda's house on second floor. I did not talk to them while I was there for long only once I had gone in their house.

I was thinking to go to my office on that Sunday and do Srimad-Bhagbad Gita' s correction in my translated Maithili Gita's manuscripts but I incidentally told that Manipuri boy that I wanted to talk to him.

He requested me that as his talk on the phone might be longer, I should rather go inside and talk to his friends as well as his elder brother. There were three Manipuris there- Boris, Roshan and Sanjay whose brother Santosh had sent me in from out side.

I initially though Boris was a Christian and Roshan, a Muslim and more so when Boris told me that out of 24 lakh Manipuris 50 per cent are (Meitei- who follow almost all Hindu rituals with minor differences) and 25 per cent Muslim and 25 per cent Christians.

I told them that it was a good balance in the room from that point of view. I told them that though born and brought up in a RSS milieu, I have no prejudices even for non-Hindu religions but surely I am against conversion by alluring or threatening or by providing medical services or schools to the innocent people.

In 1947, India had seventh partition since British days however it was 24th partition in past 2500 years. Upto Bali, Borneo, Indonesia and Cambodia, it was India not to talk of Myanmar bordering Manipur which seceded in 1937.
(I- 24.5.1876- Afganistan as a Buffer state as per Gandamak Treaty with Russia.
II- 817- Nepal as Sugauli Treaty
III- 1906- Sikkim and Bhutan were seceded
IV- 1914- Tibet was accepted as Buffer State which China gobbled in 1956
V- 1935- Sri Lanka (Ceylone) was seceded
VI- 1937- Burma (Myanmar) was seceded
VII- 14.8.1947- Pakistan was carved pout of remaining India.)

I talked with them for long my association with Manipur due to Kshetrimayum Birendra Singh, three years junior to me in Medical College who had been a swayamsevak of the RSS from Manipur itself but at Darbhanga came close to me rather like my real brother.

I had accepted an editorial job to Dr. K.K.Sinha.Ranchi' s office as an assistant editor to the Progress in Clinical neurosciences and that too when my MD examination was only two months away and simultaneously I had asked Birendra to come from Delhi leaving housejob at the Safdarjung Hospital so that he could resume post graduate studies at Ranchi and at Ranchi we stayed together in the rooms of the local NMO workers and later together in a room.

Once, I had been very rude to him for some reasons I did not like and I had changed room but saw that he could continue with his study without any trouble.

Then though we were meeting in the NMO meetings he was not talking to me . He got his MD and came to me on the day of his departure to Manipur and as a brother touched my feet and asked apology to which I had said that I did not feel he was an adult and I should rather not have imposed my views on him and I was wrong even though might be thinking his welfare.

Birendra usually attends AP conferences and recently he met at Goa at the moment I was leaving out the venue. Though I gave a pen as a gift to his lovely child I forgot to give something to his wife, Dr. Roma, as per my family customs since I was in hurry to catch train. She too was a student at Darbhanga.

I had been to Imphal and to his home, Mayang Imphal circuiting Loktak Lake . His father was a teacher and while coming out of the house I had asked his younger brother, Narendra, to lace shoes to which he said, "How I can put shoes, I have to do pranam to parents."

I said that I too would do but I was not knowing that with the shoes there in that interiors of Manipur, pranam was neither taken nor given and the climax was that both parents stood together and then he did pranam and took ashirvad. Such culture is preserved nowhere in India and after seeing that I am hesitant in shoes taking pranam or doing to someone. Sanjoy and his friends said that even in Manipur now it was vanishing. Yes, our good culture preserved would vanish in modern fashion.

And at present Manipur is the hot-bed of AIDS due to intra-venous Drug Route on 'Golden Triangle' of drug trafficking.' I recall at least three times I had been to Manipur; twice when I had gone for camps in Nagaland during 1986-1988. I may be regarded as the first Hindu missionary doctor to lead a team of the NMO to Nagaland though some Hindu doctors had gone there earlier but for service and or practice.

Though we did not do any political thing- BJP could get over 20,000 votes that year and that was said to a great extent due to our work. Now BJP has five MLAs there and they have been in power too. Nagaland to me looks most as the beautiful part of the nation and so are Naga women. If I have to remarry, I would like to marry a Naga women!

At Imphal, near Nagamapal, where at Sewa Bharati I stayed twice, I had seen a market, 'Ima Market,' which is an all- women market who sell hand-woven Manipuri clothes and other things. 'Ima' is word in Manipuri for mother.

Once my meeting at Sewa Bharati was attended by the ex-principal of the RMC(Regional Medical College, now renamed RIIMS), Dr. E. Kuladhwaja Singh who was also an alumnus of the Darbhanga Medical College. I recalled Dr Manichandra, a pediatrician and Kumarjeet from the DMC.

I also recall Dr. Y. Bajo Singh, an anesthetist whom I met at the Jabalpur Medical College and when I had gone that room to contact a Manipuri student for the NMO. He was Dr. Bajo Singh's son. Dr. Bajo Singh too had studied at the Medical College of Jabalpur and when I met him at Imphal he was surprised. Initially I used to meet specifically medicos from north-east and had even planned an all India medicos conference of that area under the NMO.

Boris said that he would provide me the recent contacts of the Medicos and his sister too was an Ayurvedic Medico. Sanjoy, working for rehabilitation and prosthetics, had many contacts with the neurologists and orthopedic surgeons at Karnataka. He was not much willing to return to Manipur as his specialty was little developed there. I asked him to have Contacts for proper referral from there and also train people of his area.

Manipur has some major festivals - "Ningol Chakkouba" where the sister comes to her father's house- two days after Deepawali and gets gifts. Holi (or Yaoshang ) is one of the important festival. I recalled my senior at the DMC, Dr. L. Tondon Singh who used to play the dholak so marvelously. Incidentally he was the neighbour of one of the students present there in Bangalore house that day.

I could not attend Birendra's marriage but I was with some young person and asked them about the rituals of marriage in Manipur. In Manipuri traditional marriage, a girl elopes with a boy and comes to boy's house to stay for a night the next morning, boy's parent goes to girl house and they inform them about their daughter.

If marriage is acceptable, they come and take the girl to her house. The girl returns to her house and a marriage date is fixed as per lagna - some months are barred. Marriage is held in daytime at the house of girl.

One of the boys, in the meantime, seeing me interested in a Manipuri marriage put the video of the marriage of his brother on the computer. The whole Leikai comes as "Barat" - both males and females (on many cars, may be 30-40, in a middle class family). Bride has a muretha (head gear) and including him all males are in white dhotis and kurtas however females can put up any type of colourful dresses and they are welcomed in a mandap with chandan and pan. There are coconuts and bananas in the welcome thal as is supposed to be auspicious in rest of India also.

Barat is offered with merely some snacks but no lunch nor the father of boy offers ornaments. There is no dowry system. There is a helper ("Bor-Sennaba") to assist in the marriage and guests are welcomed with fire; The bride takes seven rounds of the groom and does pranam with folded hands.

Howere, like all over India, Kanyadan is done by some elder (in the video Bhabhi had done). Persons from both sides offer pranam to each other. Girls relatives too go to see off her but again only snacks no dinner is offered.

On the fifth day, the Boy's side again go to Girls' house where they are offered nice lunch- of 32 dishes. I observed that on banana leaves, first rice with half of the dishes were put and then the invitee was asked to come and take food. In our area the person sits first and then the food is served.

When I asked them about the genealogy of marriage system, they said Meiteis have seven clans. There are some clans among which one can marry and also some clans which one cannot. However in some case, there are inter-marriage in prohibited clans and very rarely one marries hisher own clan (sagotriya).

This too seemed to me, a system of our Maithils where too Vatsa and Sawarna cannot intermarry though of different gotras (clans).

I asked them whether in my proposition of India's States re-organization, they would come under Barak State with Shillong as the Capital covering Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura as well as Barak valley they asked me to put this view on this website.

Manipur is derived from mani- jewel and in fact it is the jewel of Bharat and my several visits help booster my familiarly with this land of great culture.

But now, I am so distant that managing leaves would be equally difficult but surely I will write to Birendra to convene a meeting of the NMO so that I can visit there once more; once I had declared that my last part of life would be spent with Birendra but much time has passed .. like water in the Brahmaputra river and though I asked those some of neo-Birendras of Jaynagar' Manipuri house to invite me in their marriage, I know I could not even attend my own marriage properly (sandwiched between two days of the NEC meeting of the NMO) and probably a video of a Manipuri marriage should be sufficient!


* Dr. Dhanakar Thakur, Spokesman, Antarrashtriya Maithili Parishad , contributes for the first time to e-pao.net . The writer can be contacted at dhanakarthakur(at)rediffmail(dot)com . This article was webcasted on June 05th, 2007.


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