|Uddipana Goswami, Literary Editor|
The Bishnupriya Manipuris are a community spread over a large area geographically. One would, for instance, encounter people from the community in Bangladesh and Burma, besides the northeastern region of India. Manipur, Tripura and Assam house a considerable population of Bishnupriya Manipuris. In Assam alone, they number nearly two lakhs. Most of them have assimilated with the local population and despite a rich tradition and culture, this has led to a loss of much of their original traits. In fact, the language of the community has been listed as endangered by the UNSESCO. This, despite the fact that the language has two dialects – Rajar Gang (King’s Village) and Madai Gang (Queen’s Village) – and the community as a whole has a rich repository of oral literature.
In an effort to save their mother tongue from extinction, a few dedicated individuals from this community have been engaged in producing literature in Bishnupriya Manipuri language. They have also formed some organisations for the preservation of their language and culture, the Bishnupriya Manipuri Writers’ Forum (BMWF) among them. This organisation is holding an international literary and cultural festival to promote the community’s identity and traditions. This issue of NELit review was planned to coincide with the said festival which is slotted to be held on 18 and 19 February.
The president of the BMFW, Dils Lakshmindra Sinha, speaks to us in this issue about his reading habits and puts forward his own recommendations for our readers. Ramlal Sinha reviews his book of Bishnupriya Manipuri folktales and finds that it reflects the ethos of the community. Ramlal Sinha also brings us in translation a couple of thought-provoking short stories by Smriti Kumar Sinha. Another poet from the community, Champalal Sinha, takes us on a journey into his childhood memories, tracing the compulsions behind his poetic creations.
In Other Words this week, we have the review of a book on ethnic conflicts in Assam. In the burgeoning market for academic studies on the issue, where does this book stand?