ELECTRIC POLES BECOMING AN EFFECTIVE MEDIA IN MANIPUR
Sound of electric poles symbolizes unity, dedication, action-oriented, responsibility, democratic nature, and social-mindedness of Manipuri women.
Local people are habituated to strike the poles whenever any eventuality happens in thelocality. It has become a culture, which needs to be carefully followed. Anti-socials mayanytime misuse this highly effective medium in disturbing peace. As it is associated withmob-culture and even irrationality, the public should always be careful in handling thishighly valuable communication technique.
When the sound of striking the electric poles is heard in a locality, it communicates the local people of something unusual. It informs the local people to come out and meet the eventuality. Arrests of drug addicts, alcoholics, thieves and anti-socials or any type of human right violations are indicated by the sounds of electric poles. The public, particularly the womenfolk of the area, spontaneously and quickly organize themselves into mobs in order to take action. Hence electric poles and its sound have been playing a key role in the various movements, uprisings and agitations in Manipur for the last two or more decades.
Communication is a universal concept. Without communication, life is impossible. Not only the human beings, but also all living things communicate among themselves in one form or the other. The tools they use in sharing their feelings, views, opinions, knowledge, likes and dislikes etc. to their fellow beings is collectively termed as Media (‘Medium’ in singular form). Media can be either natural or man-made. The nature and complexity of Media vary from civilization to civilization.
When the new born baby cries, it apparently communicates something. In Manipur society, the cry of an owl or the cawing of crows is believed to be a bad omen indicating the demise of a human being nearby. The pigeons’ stretching of wings exposing to the sun is believed to be foretelling rains. Cocks’ crow in the morning signifies dawn. Even though animals cannot talk, they can still communicate. From body language like wagging tails to noises like howls and purrs and neighs, animals have ways of expressing their feelings. Different birds have different kinds of chirps and songs that they sing for certain reasons. Mostly it is the males who do the chirping, which helps them attracting a mate or tell others that they have claimed a certain area as their nesting territory. Singing and chirping is a really helpful way for birds to exchange thoughts. These are a few examples of Media which have been used to constantly coordinate the different components of Nature. Hence, it can be rightly called Natural Media.
About a thousand years ago, trained pigeons were used for communication by famous people such as Napoleon and Julius Caesar. A message on a piece of paper was tied onto the pigeon’s foot and it was released. When a target person got the message, they wrote a reply on the message and sent the pigeon back. Messages were often coded, so that the wrong person did not get it.
Traditional Media are the old means of communication handed down from generation to generation through practice by human beings. Song, dance, theatre, story-telling, signs, gesture, symbols and signals habituated by various groups of people are known to be their traditional media. People of Manipur have their own means of communication from times immemorial. During olden days, various forms of traditional media were used to spread messages to the people. In monarchical regimes, communication was almost one-way, as one could hardly raise opinions against the tyranny of the kings. There were a number of communication techniques used by the kings. “Sembung” (a kind of gong/drum) was installed at the royal palace and used to give various kinds of messages to the people. Either the beat (number of beats/ style of beats) or the drum itself was different for different messages. The beats for various situations like calling-up of ministers at palace, attack by wild animals, condolences, war and celebrations varied from one another. At the approach of any enemy attack at the kingdom, there would be a loud beating of the gongs to warn the villagers of an imminent enemy attack on the kingdom. On hearing the warning gong, all the abled bodied villagers would collect their weapons and rush to the village gate for the protection of their land. It was an effective arrangement of defense system in the hill villages also. At some places, it was also known as ‘Lanpung’, the beating of which was barred at normal circumstances. Such a drum was also called ‘Kangla Pung’. Legends tell us that the untimely beating of such a drum could invite death penalties.
‘Sagol Lanpao’ was also popular form of media which communicated the king’s orders to the people. ‘Meihum Morok’ was also said to be an important form of communication. The king ordered for a “Meihum Morok Paojel”, such as a public declaration of war to be waged against the enemy. It was the tradition of the time to make such public declaration by a relay in which the runners’ carried a stick with a bunch of burning chillis (Morok) on top of the stick. Its symbolic meaning was that a king’s order was as hot as the burnt chillis.
Traditional media of modern times
Nowadays, striking of electric poles with stones symbolizes an unusual eventuality in the locality. It indicates that something irregular has happened in the locality. Such bells are rung particularly during arrest of drug addicts, alcoholics and thieves, or arrest of youths by security personnel. Such a sound of electric poles is an alarm for bad news and it invites agitation or strike. Electric poles are now increasingly used to organize movements or agitations, mostly by the womenfolk. It has become an effective means of communication for mobilizing the womenfolk of the society. Electric poles in the streets are not an old erection. They came to replace the erstwhile wooden poles around two decades back. Hence, beating the electric poles for alarming the public is a recent culture and a recent medium. This medium is used to call out the women of the locality on any eventuality to organize discussions/meetings/resolutions and actions in a hurry. Electric pole and its sound have been playing a great role in organizing movements and uprisings against human right violations, drug abuse and alcoholism. Its sound symbolizes unity, dedication, purposeful, action-oriented and social-mindedness among the people.