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Cheirouba

Lat weekend heralded the dawn of the Manipuri new year, at least for a few of us. The new year officially falls on the 14th of April every year and coincides with the new year of the Bengalis, the Assamese, the Tamilians and the Keralites too. But the diaspora in Delhi chose to call in for an early celebration for matters of convenience. I was woken up by an enthusiastic relative who came all dressed in the traditional wear because the invite said 11 am sharp. I managed to convince her, going by past experiences, that nothing would happen before 1 pm. So, lured by the idea of a typical Manipuri lunch, we found ourselves seated at the venue – the conference hall of one of the lawyers’ association in Tilak Lane, Delhi. Well, just before lunch.

As predicted, only half the guests had turned up. Manipuris generally don’t socialise as do the Nagas or the Mizos. When I asked one of the active members why the turnout was poor, he replied, rather ruefully, that the original Delhi Manipuri Society had broken up into factions. Which means, there were also two or three more such groups in the capital. Now this is the only society I have known so far, so news of the offshoots came as a bit of a surprise. Skipping cultural programmes, the guests on the dais, which included some of the oldest Meitei residents in Delhi, and the rest of those present had an interactive discussion on the break-up and how to patch the groups into one. After a lot of ‘compatriot bashing’ , the discussion closed on an open-ended note. Hopefully, the thinking members in the group will soon find the path to recoinciliation. Hmmm, that’s a pet word of late.

And after probably one of the best indigenous food fare of nga athoiba, ooti, kangau, shoibum eromba, and kheer, my cousin, a friend and I headed back home sleepily that hot Saturday noon. But my mind was a little preoccupied. Back in the hall, I was talking to a rather young civil servant who completely agreed with me when I said such social gatherings should be treated as a fun thing, where people of the community take time off to exchange pratlings, form newer friendships and just have fun. That way, the bonding and the affinity to one’s people and culture will always remain.

Problem arises when we tend to intellectualise such forums and expect revolutionary changes to our own situation. For instance, what I gathered from the discussion was that the non-materialisation of a housing society was the cause of ire among many, Hence the divisions in the group with each claiming to bringing about a speedier growth to the plan. Agreed accomodation is everyone’s pet peeve, but in a highly bureaucratised system like ours, things do take time. Besides it takes more than one earnest member to run around, spend energy and resources for public benefit. And how many are willing to take on that onus?

Bottomline: it's time we learnt to unwind a bit and not get too serious about ourselves.

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