TODAY -

Phases of Manipur Culture: A Historical Perspective
- Part 2 -

Hareshwar Goshwami *

'Malem Paphal Art Exhibition Manipur' at Iboyaima Shumang Leela Shanglen, Imphal :: May 27 2015
'Malem Paphal Art Exhibition Manipur' at Imphal in May 27 2015 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam



(* Paper presented at the Workshop on 'Perceptions on Manipur Culture', organize by Centre for Manipur Studies, Manipur University, 14 February 2018)

Cultural Dissemination: Whatever reasons Garibniwaz may have had, the impact of the conversion on the socio-cultural life of his people was tremendous. It polarized the Manipuri society. The introduction of 'Varna' system, as precursor of 'Mangba' and 'Sengba' added the sufferings of the common people. The cultural gap between the hill and valley inhabitants widened. New shift of allegiance from traditional beliefs like worship of hills and mountains, rivers and streams to alien topographical features like Ganga, Jamuna, Himalaya etc. occurred, endangering the native ecological and environmental systems and resulting in serious threat to the existence of the population.

The burning of Puyas and destruction of the temples of Umang-Lais are condemned to this day, even if most of the Puyas listed to be burnt are still available. It created a psychological atmosphere of cultural humiliation and dependency. Imposition of numerous taxes related to the new religion put a heavy burden on the common man and affected the economy of the kingdom. Prohibition of the rearing of pigs and poultry, eating of meat, also reshaped the socio-cultural visage of the Manipuris.

Religious Syncretism: It is little or no wonder that Garibniwaz is treated as religious fanatic by many of his critics. Still there are aspects that could be taken as considerate to some extent. Examples may be cited to the worship of royal deities like Nongshaba, Panthoibi, and TaibangKhaiba (Sanamahi) by Brahmins, indicating that there was still room left for religious syncretism and cultures.

Though Hindu festivals replaced the traditional festivals, the hill people were allowed to practice their own culture and religion. The killing of animals for food during Mera Haochongba known as Mera Sanduba was allowed in the capital, which shows cultural toleration and pluralism. Haomacha Loishang was reorganized and properly maintained. Muslims who had already settled in the kingdom were not forced into conversion. It shows his tolerance and forbearance towards other beliefs and religion.

The accession of Meidingu Chingthangkhomba popularly known as Rajarishi Bheigyachandra (1763-1798 AD), signaled the promotion of a cultural syncretism that is found even today. The Chaitanya school of Vaishnavism replaced the Ramandi cult propounded by Garibniwaz and his preceptor Shanti Das Mahanta. He was formally initiated to Goudiya Vaishnavism by Shri Rup Parmannanda Thakur.

He installed the idol of Govindajee in 1776 and introduced Ras Lila, a combination of traditional Meitei dance form and Vaishnavite theme. It is said that there are many similarities between traditional 'Maibi Jagoi' and 'Bhangi Jagoi' of the Ras Lila. The pattern of 'Champra Okpi', 'Champra Khaibi' of the Bhangi dance is said to be adopted from 'Lei-hekpa' 'Lei-khaiba' of the 'Lai Haraoba' of the Meiteis. Meiteis being lover of dance and music found expression of their sentiment and emotion in devotional songs in Shri Govindajee and Nata sankritan.

The Manipuri Vaisnavism as propounded by Bheigyachandra cannot be described as a purely transplanted brand of religion from Bengal. It was formed to suit the local taste and ideas. Thus a socio-religious syncretism occurred resulting to the emergence of present culture of the Meitei-Hindus.

Modern Period: Towards Inclusive Composite Culture (1826 1972)

This period witnessed the resurgence of a composite culture in the Manipuri society. Random contact with the British had already begun since the time of Raja Jai Singh (Bheigyachandra). However, direct link commenced after the signing of Treaty of Yandaboo in 1826. The meddling of the British Raj in Manipur's politics is clearly visible in the matter of cessation of Kabaw Valley to Burma in 1834. After the first Anglo-Burmese War, the British felt it necessary to establish a Political Agency in Manipur. Captain Gordon (1835-1844) was appointed as first Political Agent.

The constructive part of British contact with Manipur was the introduction of western education. Among the pioneers, mention may be made of Major General W.F. Nuthall, Dr. L. Brown (1867-1875), Sir James Johnstone, Rev. Pettigrew. Nuthal-Brown's vernacular school was established in 1872. Though not successful it paved way for future western education in the State.

As a result, in 1920 Manipuris went outside the state for obtaining western education with State Scholarship. The arrival of western education acted as an agent of social change, altering existing outlooks and beliefs, and leading to the emergence of an elite group that wanted progress and modernization.

The outcome was the birth of various movements like revivalist, social reformation, and revolutionary movements in Manipur in the first and second half of the twentieth century. The revivalist movement was spearheaded by an educated teacher called Naorem Phullo popularly known as Naoria Phullo born in 1888 at Laishram Khullen Jaribond, of the then Cachar District.

The movement aims at reviving the traditional religion, custom, culture and usages of the Meiteis. But the leader who had awakened the Manipuris from its long slumber and defied colonialism and feudalism was Lamyanba Hijam Irawat Singh, born on 30th March 1896. He was an educated leader of high social status who once became a Darbar Member.

After the defeat of Manipur in 1891, the British taught and trained the Maharaja to be rapacious and cruel against his subjects. They enabled him to collect taxes and revenues effectively so as to fulfill their colonial aspiration. As a result, various obnoxious taxes like Hajam-napet, Kang-thouri, Chabok-wangol, Chandal-senkhai, Jal-sambhandhi and harsh and compulsory duties like Yarek-santri were imposed on the common people.

Above all, there prevailed many evil social systems like, 'Mangba-sengba', 'Inthokpa-loushinba' etc. However, with the emergence of educated middle class, the authority of the king, his nobility and priestly class were questioned. Dead bodies that were buried earlier as 'unholy' were taken out, cremated and last rites performed. The payment of obnoxious taxes and the system of 'sacred' and 'unsacred' were defied.

As a result of the efforts made by Lamyanba Irabot and likeminded people, cultural disparity began to wane and the characteristics of a composite culture prevailed again. The King was no longer absolute.

Establishment of Constitutional monarchy in 1949 is a vivid example in this regard. Religion was no longer the source of truth and reality. Reason and logic won over faith and belief. This change heralded the beginning of Modern Period in the Manipur History.

Conclusion: At a time when Manipur was yet to consume and fully embrace the age of science, the complex digital revolution in 1970s kick started the Information age. The Information Age is a period in human history characterized by the shift from traditional industry to a society based on information technology.

As a result of sharing of knowledge through information technology, people's socio-economic and political outlooks have changed tremendously. It even challenges science as source of truth and reality; truth stopped being absolute as it became subject to interpretations. Man had moved on from objectivity to subjectivity.

The existence of other gods and cultures is acceptable in the mind of the post-modern people as there is no single defining source of truth beyond the individual. For posts-modernists spiritual pluralism exists. God is welcomed until he doesn't play God. Neither religion nor science is the yardstick to measure truth, beauty and goodness. As such post-modern culture itself defies certainty and absoluteness.

They group and re-group with likeminded people beyond the traditional cultural and religious boundaries. Post-modernism makes assimilation and integration more fluid. But individual or group ideologies can be clashed in the absence of an unifier, that might spin towards social chaos and anarchy. To me this is the social order prevailing today in Manipur though the characteristics of both modern and pre-modern still persist.

Concluded...


* By Hareshwar Goshwami, MCS (Retd) wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is a Writer & Politician
This article was contributed by Aheibam Koireng who can be contacted at akoireng(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was posted on February 22, 2018.


* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Mova Cave, Hungpung, Ukhrul #1 : Gallery
  • Expanding Economy Beckons :: Speech
  • Before trains arrive, must read
  • Impact of the Shirui Lily festival
  • Securing Wi-Fi: Negating doorstep threat
  • Blood donation drive in North East
  • Expecting changes in dealing SoO
  • Scourge of drug trafficking
  • Tribal Cultural Festival #2 : Gallery
  • Let's talk about our children today
  • A blow to image boosting
  • Fear and Superstition
  • Latrine :: Poem
  • Letter to JS-MHRD from MUTA
  • JS-MHRD did not meet with MUTA
  • Drawing on Energy Efficiency
  • MU impasse: Attention Mr. Prime Minister
  • Admission time : Sky high cut off
  • Great June Uprising @Kekrupat #2 : Gallery
  • Yoga Day: Celebrating Your Health
  • Chak-hao - black gold of Manipur
  • In response to the culture of shaming
  • 3rd Documentor Imphal
  • 4th International Day of Yoga by AR
  • Appeals for Resolution of MU Crisis
  • Recommendation to control Flood damages
  • International Yoga Day at Loktak PS
  • After Flood : Introspection about the future
  • MUSU & JAC : Hot issues before the Govt
  • Zeliangrong orphaned by Nationalism #2
  • General Thangal Eco Park : Gallery
  • Letter to President on Crisis at MU
  • Precision medicine & life sciences
  • Black topping-can ground leveling be behind
  • Condemns security force intrusion in MU
  • Developer wanted at LMP, Konjeng Leikai
  • AR gears up for International Yoga Day
  • NPF rejoinder to NDPP : 20 June
  • Rejoinder by Dr. Shurhozelie : 20 June
  • For a little bit more
  • Deadline of 5 days time set : MU crisis
  • Garlic Festival @Ukhrul #4 :: Gallery
  • Flood in Imphal [14 June] #3 : Gallery
  • Inungshi, Gaichanglungliu :: eMing
  • Taking 'Hau' Music to Rest of World
  • Kakching bags cleanest city in NE Award
  • JRF (Junior Research Fellow) at IBSD
  • Oxfam India launches emergency response
  • VC, MU - Resign immediately :: MUTA
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Translation of ancient Manipur texts begin
  • Pre Yoga Capsule organized
  • NDPP Rejoinder on 19 June
  • NPF Youth Wing Rejoinder on 19 June
  • Favouring digital govt : still a Virtual dream
  • June 18 Anniv : Consult all stakeholders
  • Great June Uprising @Kekrupat #1 : Gallery
  • Binota Thokchom at BRICS Young Scientist
  • The Merger of Manipur
  • Improving school management in Manipur
  • Pros & cons of screening tests
  • NPF Rejoinder on 18th June
  • Nagaland CM statement on Aboi ambush
  • June 18 significance: Still living on prayer
  • Need to identify one's strength
  • 18 Immortal Souls Remembered : Flash
  • The Great June Uprising : Read all about it
  • The Pitfalls of Identity Politics
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • All his sons :: Poem
  • Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016
  • Eid bring cheer in flood hit areas
  • Willong Khullen, Maram #1 : Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Defending the environmental defenders
  • Delusion in self - cause of worry
  • Road to Russia: FIFA World Cup
  • It must be love :: Poem
  • 'Future of Naga people is bleak'
  • Give a miss call to Amnesty
  • 'Naga area' bandh on June 18
  • Dzuko valley #4 :: 360 Panorama View
  • Flood in Imphal [14 June] #2 : Gallery
  • Id-Ul-Fitr Festival
  • Letter to PM Modi on Naga Talks
  • Greetings on Eid-Ul-Fitr
  • Rejoinder to NPF statement
  • Rejoinder to Nagaland Chief Minister
  • Flood relief continue on 3rd day
  • India-Vietnam Youth Dialogue 2018
  • MU debacle: Why would it be left unnoticed
  • Spirit of World Cup : Brazil to Russia
  • NEC to come under Home Ministry
  • Manipur NGO hosts summit on LGBTQ
  • Flood in Imphal [14 June] #1 : Gallery
  • Women Struggle in Self-Determination
  • 14 June- World Blood Donor Day
  • Naga Integration not possible- NPF react
  • Naga Integration is not possible- CM Rio
  • Relief work in flood affected areas
  • A day which keeps our spirit alive
  • Ranked 320 in the country : MU
  • Flood in Imphal [13 June] #2 : Gallery
  • Sovereignty Struggles in Northeast #5
  • Be alert: It's admission time
  • Yin and Yang
  • Watermelon beauty benefits
  • Temp accommodation for Aligarh students
  • Wrath of Mother Nature: Why challenge..
  • 60 pc is no longer first class : 95 pc
  • Flood in Imphal [13 June] #1 : Gallery
  • Sanamahi Laihui & Sanamahi Laining
  • Kuhi- Essential plant for Nungbi pottery
  • Climate justice is integral to development
  • The bridge :: Poem
  • Lt S Vijaya Devi felicitated
  • Then : Indifferent :: Now : Hyper sensitive
  • Phumdigi Tantha : Dance Drama : Gallery
  • Grief at Xavier Rutsa's demise
  • Modi's India: A descend into Ochlocracy
  • The Philippine Experience
  • Cry of a Dying River #33 :: Poem
  • Community Iftar at Moijing, Cachar
  • Candle Light at DU over Assam lynching
  • Demand replacement of Manipur Univ VC
  • The Tragedy of Higher education
  • Unacceptable points spelt out
  • Teinem Luira Phanit @Ukhrul #3: Gallery
  • RPL-PMKVY trainees @Hojai : Gallery
  • Manipur Sports University in UP ?
  • Coloniality of the Postcolonial
  • Yellow leaves in the autumn :: Poem
  • Prof N Irabanta-distinguished academician
  • Leadership matters
  • Artificial turf for budding talents
  • 2 municipal bodies in NE awarded
  • Who is Arambam Somorendra ?
  • Manglandasu Nang - OST :: e-pao Radio
  • Shirock 2018 - Shirui Lily Fest #3 : Gallery
  • Linthoi's "The Tales of Kanglei Throne" #2
  • Grass root challenge- Education in hills
  • Earth does not belong to us...
  • Sita Mata as test-tube baby
  • What happen to VIP Culture Mr. CM
  • Merchants of education
  • Laitonjam Rajnikanta : Profile
  • A blessing to see :: Poem
  • Sovereignty Struggles in Northeast #4
  • Difference between Hinduism & Hindutva
  • How to choose the perfect fragrance
  • Iftaar party at Lilong
  • Bitter truth of Manipuri society
  • MU, NSU, IGNTU : Students at the centre
  • Amuktang-Ga Haikho #1 : eRang
  • Sangai Veterans' Football #2 : Gallery
  • Pony : A Cavalry Horse Par Excellence #2
  • Issues that keep Manipur burning
  • Cry of a Dying River - 32 :: Poem
  • CM & AR interaction with villagers
  • Certification of PMKVY trainees of Hojai
  • Christian appeals for Peace in Shillong
  • How safe are our women?
  • Riders put up by JAC for talk
  • Khangkhui Cave in Ukhrul #3 : Gallery
  • Pluralism, Democracy & Ethnic Relation #2
  • Irom Sharmila meets with Mehbooba Mufti
  • JRF @ Mizoram University (Biotechnology)
  • Tobacco and heart disease
  • Understanding SOWA - RIGPA #2
  • Campaign "to End Child Sexual Abuse"
  • Implementation of 7th Pay
  • Indigenous street vendor sing gi wafam
  • The crumbling Manipur University
  • Kang Tournament @ Yaiskul : Gallery
  • Zeliangrong orphaned by Nationalism #1
  • A rainy night :: Poem
  • HSLC Exam is the start! What next?
  • 1528 cases of fake encounter
  • Linthoi's "The Tales of Kanglei Throne" #1
  • Handloom Weaver @Bishnupur : Gallery
  • Shirock 2018 - Shirui Lily Fest #2 : Gallery
  • Hinduism in Manipur : Political Perspective
  • All the World and his Wife :: Poem
  • Tribal Cultural Festival #1 : Gallery
  • Women in CCpur turn to self-help groups
  • Purul Paoki Wrestling : Gallery
  • Sangai Veterans' Football #1 : Gallery
  • Khangminashi IV (Lecture) : Report
  • Seminar at MU - Hinduism in Manipur'
  • Evolution of The Meetei State
  • Heartbreak at Ukhrul: Unfolding Shirock
  • State Level Khurpui-Lam Festival: Gallery
  • June Calendar for Year 2018 :: Tools
  • School Girls Basketball #2 : Gallery
  • Where is Manipur....???
  • 'Manipur' in Google maps : Gallery
  • The Killing Fields - 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • Mama Poktabi :: Funga Wari
  • Veterans Football Tournament #2 : Gallery
  • Shirock 2018 - Shirui Lily Fest #1 : Gallery
  • Sougrakpam Vijaya makes history sailing...
  • Arunachali unfurled Salai Taret at Mt Everest
  • Panthoiba: 2nd Rank- class XII, Uttarkhand
  • Ras Leela @JNMDA Day : Gallery
  • HSLC 208 Exam Toppers : Gallery
  • HSLC 2018 :: Toppers Listing
  • HSLC 2018 :: Check Result
  • HSLC :: Statistical/Subject Topper
  • HSLC 2018 :: External
  • Poumai Purul Hiimai Paoki #2 : Gallery
  • Kakching Garden :: 360 Panorama View
  • Folk Dance Festival #5 : Gallery
  • Aerial view from Chingmeirong : Gallery
  • Curtain Raising- Sangai Fest 2017: Gallery
  • Lainingthou Lai Lam thopka #2 : Gallery
  • Re-visiting Khangkhui caves in Ukhrul
  • Gardening @Ema Keithel #2: Gallery
  • Front Page Photo 2018 #2: Gallery
  • Pakhangba Cheng Hongba #2 : Gallery
  • Steelheart @ Shirock , Ukhrul #3 : Gallery
  • A. Halim Chowdhury: A Profile
  • Class XII Exam Toppers : Gallery
  • Class XII Result : Science Toppers
  • Class XII Result : Arts Toppers
  • Class XII Result : Commerce Toppers
  • HSE Result 2018 : District Wise
  • HSE Result 2018 : Highest Marks
  • HSE Result 2018 : Science Stream
  • HSE Result 2018 : Arts Stream
  • HSE Result 2018 : Commerce Stream
  • Temples of Manipur : Gallery
  • Recipients of Akademi Awards for 2014
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic
  • SPONSORED ADS