By Bobo Khuraijam
Proud, the Meitei are, of their history, of their culture, of their prowess in games and sports etc. There is one thing they seemed to have been ignored. They use it every season and almost every day. It is the English-Manipuri calendar. Communities around the world have different calendars, each according to their needs. Each of them would vouch for the uniqueness of their own calendars. Without beating the jingoistic drum too loud, the Meitei too, can be proud of their calendar. Beliefs which are chiefly guided by religious beacons are kept intact along with the modern version of counting day and date;a harmonious blend of the old and the new. Of course, they cannot claim to be the only community who areconserving it. They might have drawn inspiration from other communities. But those who started it in Manipur for the first time deserves to be mentioned in the GK of Manipur. Or has it been already mentioned? Please let us know as we are not sitting for any competitive examinations. Is not it a wonder that a calendar can predict whether a day is good or bad?
INVITATION GALORE: As the calendar says that such and such day is good, you have wedding invitations queuing up. The invitation card comes in different hue. Most of them sprinkled with glittering foils with pictorials like Ganesha head or intricate flower designs. Some graphics stands out from the rest, indicating that some creative hands have tried their hands on the card. A computer and a designing geek must have come handy for that. The texts have lifeless similarities in most of the cards. Perhaps the same text that has been in used since the very first time! Or much before photocopying machine came to Manipur. Yet, why do the proud Meitei keeps on copying the same text? The same word, the same format an above all the same error. The art is a spin-off of using ‘their’ and ‘our’ inappropriately. In simple term, the intended meaning is: who is inviting on whose behalf. Honestly, we do not wish to sound like a hardcore grammarian, who can point out grammatical mistakes even from the English newspaper editorial. Like a true Meitei one can also point out grammatical error or any other error from our musing, with the typical, “noidi kayaam heiradana”. The point is that ‘their’ and ‘our’ can create so much difference and confusion if one has to go by the strict sense of invitation. Is not wedding strict or solemn (the word you love to print) in every sense? Or for that matter the Meitei wedding? There are limitless phei(s) and phatte(s).Solemnity,Cordialityand the Grace cannot be Highly Solicited with the textual error you love to copy and paste. After all the day of marriage is decided following the strictures of good and bad from the calendar. The kind of ‘once in a life time’ elaborate arrangement you made for the D-Day, the resource, energy and time you spent. Should we say your invitation card also deserves some attention in anyway? We know the easiest way to provoke you would be other way round. We could have started with opening statement like: error in invitation card would give only girl child to the would-be couples; or the couple would never become rich, or better; the couple would die young. Cards apart, we have now invitation sent through the text message of cellular phones. Some people are smart enough to deposit a bulk of the cards to a friend. The friend would send text message invitation to other friends far and wide. That electronic ‘beep’ of invitation has an air of freshness instead of the paper card. Though we do not contest that the text message should replace the paper made one.
A NEW CALENDAR: The latest text message took us to Kakching. A friend came down from the National capital to get married. His bride too had come down. Both of them work in the capital. It was a visit after a long time. Not to mention that the road in the Thoubal district is not inferior in quality from the road in the national capital. How we wished to be reborn in the district. If not as a human, we will be contented even if we are born as cattle. How pleasing would it be to sit on the middle of the magnificent road, cud-chewing once in a while, with the tail teasing the flies; eyes shut from the surroundings- the kind of assertiveness that every Thoubalites enjoy. The pleasantness of the journey could not match with the pleasantries we share with our friend’s parents. We were the odd ones: the Lonnou (s). We got undue attention whenever we spoke. Our friend’s elder brother who stays in Beijing had also came with his Chinese wife. Our Chinese eteima got the due attention with her look and the Meitei traditional attire. She looked familiar to us in a sense, like one of those faces in the Olympics doing one of the most difficult routines of gymnastics. Her husband, whenever we meet he used to talk to us in Imphal lon/lonnou. But this time he spoke to us in the same way anybody from Kakching would speak. Perhaps his stay in Beijing has revitalised his proudness of being a Kakching brethren. A Manipuri – Chinese calendar in the offing. You decide where to insert the Kakching part.
FOOTNOTE: Two forms of loneliness have visited recently. Gone are the days of bomb blast sound, also gone are the days of traffic pollution in two main Keithels. Leipung Ningthou calls it, “aki akhang gi makhol na taakhidabada thamoida laiman oihouba”.