By: Rinku Khumukcham
My good night wished to that strange friend didn’t actually mean that I was feeling sleepy. It was a slip of tongue to put a full stop on the conversation that we have been undergoing.
The strange friend that I share a room for a night seems rather religious. He responded the same wishing and – “a good night, sleep well” was the last words from him for that night. As for me I remained awaken for quite more couple of hours pondering upon to what he had pointed out.
“Are you a Hindu? You are a meitei from Manipur and meiteis were not Hindu they were compelled to convert into Hinduism. What make it difference between you and me? I choose Christian and You choose Hindu.” These reply of the stranger echoed in my simple brain disturbing peace in my mind. Being in the degree standard I didn’t felt any wrong or regrets in choosing a religion of my choice. But then the virtue of patriotism that runs through my veins always stands for protection, preservations and promotion of my identity. He was right I am Meitei – which is a major community of Manipur.
For decades I have been following the Vaishnavite culture as it has been a family traditions. I have seen my great grandfather devoted himself to be a true follower of Vaishnavite culture, My grandfather, a popular scholar of his time known as Khumukcham Leikhachandra too follow the same religion even though his concept of being religious is different from his father e.i., my great grandfather. My Father who had left us all some one and half years ago also followed the same family traditions even though he disallowed any strict rules. That was why he had no objection to my marriage with my wife who belongs to the same Sagei (clan).
Well, that was another tales, I really didn’t know when I went to sleep pondering upon to the replied that was given by the Assamese stranger. At around 6 am I woke up and did my toilet, brush teeth, took a quick bath and then dressed up myself for continuing my journey to Shilllong. Those days it was nearly 4 hours journey from Guwahati to Shillong and the fare was somewhat around rupees 150 in taxi. As I comb my hair in front of the mirror pasted at one side of the hotel wall, my stranger friend woke up and said, “are you leaving”. “Yeah”, I said, “I have to catch the taxi and reach before 12 noon.” He said he too was checking out the room at around 9 am. Before leaving I gave him my address – both Shillong and Imphal. He too gave me in written. But here again I am sorry, I should have been careful in maintain records . I have lost that too. Before the Assamese stranger friend wished me a safe journey – he said, “ You were right , but we both were not. It is life and we have to survive.”
I know I am right when I said that we are born to safeguard our identity, religion, culture and traditions. For generations after family have been following Hindu religion. Being a descendant of the family I have also followed what they had been following without knowing any dept meaning of what is a religion for. It was only during the 90s that the revivalism movement of the indigenous religion under the great leadership of some eminent personality came into existence. The hard work, research, dedication had finally proved worthy and finally many from among the community are now proud to learn that we were also once a civilize people which have our own religious doctrine as well as script of our own.
At this juncture I felt it relevant to pick up a write up which was published in Imphal Free Press during 2007. I thought this article is relevant with this topic I am writing as I am deciding to continue more discussion through this blog about the confused state of Manipuri especially the Meitei. Here it goes –
“No man is perfect”. Little does these words are being cared by all. But this poor ego cannot deny it for repentance and imperfection sing along with the rhythms of my miseries. Jealousy to the worldly pleasures and luxuries is what worried me for so many days. Sometimes my mind stands firmly for evaluation of these evil desires. But How? Things are not very easy as they to be. So do I always felt in the trap? Freeing from these chains of miseries is turning to be an impossible task.But not everything goes in vain. History shows the way. I had found many releasing them from the chain by becoming a devotee of God.
God is one. It is universally approved and accepted. But religion is a way that will take us near him. Guidelines shown in the religious doctrine will free us from the worldly pleasure. Becoming a devotee of God without adopting a religion will be another wild goose chase which would even torture my freedom. So choosing a religion is a must for becoming a devotee. But which religion? Manipuri Hindu or the Meitei Sanamahism.
Choosing Hindu religion as my choice will cease all worries as it has been well adapted to this soil. Of course Manipuri Hindu are also becoming a majority community of the state. Besides all sorts of culture, traditions and festival are well accomplished to our society. Family rituals from birth to death are being associated with Hindu traditions yet those practiced are different from those Hindus followed in other part of the country.
……….But slipping off the very word – “ I am a Hindu” sometimes felt me guilty to my mind for history witness that that it is only a recent visitors that had stormed from the northern block. Chronicles events had proved that our indigenous religion was forcibly exterminated. Tales of the Meitei ancestors about their efforts for preserving the indigenous religion still is a legend.
………..separations seen among the two religious community of the same blood.
It was during the late 90s that I had worried a lot about which way to go for becoming a devotee of God. My love for my community has never allowed to think about any other religion like the Christianity, Bhudhism, Jainism, Muslim, Judiasm etc. As for Manipuri Hindu it has been with us in the society since the day of my great great grand father. And as for the Meiteism Sanamahi religion I had always wanted it since this is a religion that gave birth to this society.
But will it be right to throw away the Meitei Hinduism and converted in Meitei Sanamahism completely. If somebody said “Yes” then I would definitely say – “let an atom bomb clean our Manipur so that all the people are exterminated – to begin a new life.”