Salute to Manipuri Sahitya Parishad

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The Manipuri Sahitya Parishad has every reason to celebrate. Seventy nine years of literary journey is no ordinary journey. So to say, the literary organisation is older than the Indian Republic. Established in the year 1935, its founding secretary was none other than Hijam Irawat, a name that needs no introduction. He was a towering personality whose presence was visible in almost every aspects of life. Irawat was the first to start a literary journal in Manipuri. The journal titled Meitei Chanuappeared in 1922, which included the works of poet Lamabam Kamal. This early part of the twentieth Century was a tumultuous period with political upheavals marked by both social and literary movement. 1934 was the year when Irawat formed the Nikhil Hindu Manipuri Mahasabha. Irawat’s aim was to unify the Manipuris by using the platform of the organisation. The visionary must have also felt the necessity of forming a literary organisation so that the writers of that time could conglomerate to share a common cause. Manipuri Sahitya Parishad must have been born out of that idea in the subsequent year. Irawat is considered the first truly modern poet of Manipur. Seidam Seireng an early work of the legend was prescribed as a text for schools. He broke the romantic style of Khwairakpam Chaoba, Hijam Angahal and Lamabam Kamal. Of course, the three names were harbinger of new consciousness and sensibility. They were the founding fathers of modern Manipuri literature. Their versatility made them traverse through different genres such as drama, poetry, novel and epic. From their period onwards there has been manifold increase in literary engagement with new breed of writers. They have inspired many to take up the pen. This column would not be able to do the justice oflisting the names of all the literary figures who have carved a niche of their own in the literary world of Manipur. Without their contribution the seventy nine years journey of Manipuri Sahitya Parishad would have been an incomplete one. The same is true for the writers as well; without the amniotic fluid of creativity provided by a literary organisation like the Parishad, the writers would not have grown into their fullest vigour. It is befitting to recognise the symbiotic role that the Parishad and the writers jointly played in lifting the Manipuri language to a venerable height. During his address on the birth anniversary of the Parishad, the Governor of Manipur has made a right proposal of working towards the goal of achieving the status of Classical Language. The goal may not be too far away. But there are hurdles that have to be crossed. One big hurdle would be the ‘language fanaticism’ of not accepting any foreign word in Manipuri language. They called it: Lonyaan. Some self-appointed guardians of language have passed their diktat that any literary work with ‘lonyaan’ shall not be allowed publication from the year 2014 onwards. The December of 2013 witnessed book releases from a host of writers. These writers, some of them who write brilliantly, were trying to meet the ‘lonyaan’ dateline. One particular writer, who has made immense contribution in modern Manipuri poetry, with indignation had confessed one last wish before he dies. He said he would like to make a bonfire of all his works at his courtyard. All his works are in ‘lonyaan’ therefore it is unacceptable by the yardstick of ‘pure’ Manipuri language. Within the milieu, it is important to recall that at the time of founding an institution like the Parishad, the pioneers had a vision of social awakening through the medium of literature. It is because of the vision that Manipuri language and its literature have grown so richly. Like an organism, language also needs a free and a healthy environment to grow. It should not be bludgeon to death. Let us accept the fact that there is no single language in the world that has not been blended.

 

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