An Anti-Stereotypical Thought Singju!

We worship Goddess Panthoibi piously for two weeks in the month of Mera and for the rest of the year we are ready to consider our womenfolk are like the do-they-even-exist types. Manipur Masala presents an anti-stereotypical thought singju to unravel a few funny cases of stereotyping, which are intricately fabricated and juggled in our society for all these years.

Behind the masquerade of patriarchy, stereotyping is observed as quite an ethical norm in our society. To cite the simplest example, we generally observe that a guy who occasionally cooks or indulges in a bit of household chores for his family is categorised under the section of ‘maram mokpa’ or ‘gyaan taaba type’. He becomes an adorable person in the keiroleikai. If that guy happens to be a Pakhang, a list of leisabis would go ga-ga after him.

Alright, I do admire the type of maram-mokpa Pakhang or any nupa who lends a helping hand in the domestic chores of the family. But given a thought on it, it smells to me, a syndrome of hard-core stereotype.

In our society, the female lots in every family are occupied in a hell lot of household chores on a daily basis. There is hardly any admiration for a particular girl who runs her family catering to all the needs of the members of her family.

There is a sole consolation that a girl receives from her relatives or keiroleikai: ‘Echagi maram khumoksidi hayengwai mouga oiradi manem makuna yam paamdoipotni’. This insinuates how a girl is born to look after a family for her entire life—regardless of mapaam or nupa mayum.

A leisabi, before tying the nuptial knot, is expected to learn all the emungi kupnom besides mastering the art of cooking niche insaangs such as chagem pomba, ooti thongba, sareng thongba etc. Leisabihood days are synonymous to pre-marriage training time during which a girl has to attain perfection in every single household work. When it comes to work, the list is endless: wai teiba, chaak thongba, fee suba, emung loisinba (rolling my eyes) and what not.

Imagine the roles were reversed. Imagine a Pakhang doing all these household activities on a daily basis just to become eligible as an ideal Yumgi Nupa after his marriage. I would not mind hosting an event in pursuit of the most maram mokpa nupa of the year simultaneously showering him with gifts and blessings. There would even be benedictions such as ‘afaba nupi fangjaro’.

Well, the ground reality is not so fascinating. Our society has so many funny hocus-pocuses about culturing the norm of stereotyping. We have tinctured many stereotyped beliefs on our mind. All of us are accustomed to the beliefs of shumaang matonda fanek fouba touheide; except u-rok sumjeet, guys are forbidden to touch the broom and the most interesting one: nupana eru ludana chaak thongbadi yai, nupinadi yaade.

I do not have the slightest intention of waging a gender war. But I honestly believe it’s high time that we change our mindsets on sexuality. So, in my Utopian Sanaleibaak, guys should cook on a daily basis; they should equally look after their homes like their better halves; and they should not mind if there is a Fanek hanging at the Polaangkhok right at the Shumang maton. Rather, mind the mess that is synonymous to Manipur today.

Until and unless we change our mindset, there is hardly any use of yelling at the streets or hammering the keyboards to speak out against injustice or crime against women that are continuously committed in our society.

‘Attempting to get at truth,’ to quote the acclaimed English journalist, Harold Evans, ‘means rejecting stereotypes and clichés’.

Can we attempt to come upon the truth? At least, try...?

Come on, it won’t be anything like rocket science. Let’s just do it. Let’s say ‘Goodbye to stereotyping’ and say ‘Hello to a free society’ where all the Leisha-Pakhang are categorised as Maram Mokpi/Mokpa and the ahal-laman enjoy themselves as audiences of ideal romantic nuances.

The world’s truly a stage. And I bet it will be a hit with equal improvisations from the two sexes, rather than just one. In so doing, I bet again that we will find more essence in singing paeans for Panthoibi Lairembi. The rest will follow automatically.

This article was published on 13 Oct 2013

Tradition: A Go-Getter Champ in the Manipur Syllabus!

Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.
- W. Somerset Maugham

Mr. Langban has bidden adieu for the year passing on the duties to the Ministress of Seasonal Affairs – Mera Tha.

A pleasant season, the return of hungaam and yongchaak in the chakhum and of course the festivals that queue up for their turn one after another, mark the advent of Mera. Fatso Langban relished all the tarpon feasts and offerings that we prepared for the departed souls of our ahal laman and saagei-naatei. He needs at least a year to digest everything that he had gorged on during his stay. The last time I saw him, he was buying Enzyme and lots of Hajmola sachets.

Meanwhile, Mera Ministress cannot wait to flaunt herself. She has impeccably donned herself with the Fall-Winter collection from some wannabe designers. Cajoled by her elegance, she gracefully makes her seasonal entry imbued with the right hues.

As bamboola sounds mingle in the festive air, the young and the old are bracing up for the coming days in high spirits. I pressed F5 on my mind for a few memories of festivals that we ardently enjoyed during our childhood days. One of the reloaded memories is that of the Durga Puja festival. Five days of fun and frolicking, lots of bamboola to crack and lots of esei-leela to indulge in. Puja vacations had always been a second Yaoshang coming for us. The festival is still celebrated with great pomp and show at present (especially in my leikai).

Beat Yaoshang or Durga Puja, we love celebrating every festival with great pomp and show. The only difference I have personally observed over the years is how we now celebrate a festival. The same old excitement or jovial spirit seems faded. Perhaps, it’s the years playing tricks with us or it’s the continuous mayhems that have stuffed our attention around the whole year.

Well, I suppose we need a break from the depression throughout the year. Which is why, the major festivals – Duga Puja, Diwali, Ningol Chakouba, Christmas to name a few – mark the ending of every year.

However, from the murky side, it seems nothing changes in our state except the dates and the festivals that mark their annual return. It’s the same old ugly brouhaha, the primitive laid-back attitude of our people, the sycophancy of the system and the list goes on.

Wait, wait. We have seen a few additions in the syllabus over the last few years. In the last couple of years, reports of rapes and molestations plus cases of missing housewives have added a few more. Once these used to be nauseating news from the metropolis, but not anymore.

In the midst, I am at least glad that we still nurture the tradition of celebrating festivals.

Possibly, it’s time we admit that it is only tradition that always scores letter mark in the Manipur Syllabus. It is something that revives us from depression and restlessness that engulf us the whole year.

Tradition inculcates belongingness in our heart to the blood soaked land we call our home. It still makes us yearn to go back and mingle up again with our forlorn friends, brothers and sisters. It provides us an original identity of our own that the rest of the world would not even care.

Que sera sera, we should be glad that the guns and bombs cannot destroy the tradition that we have been religiously following all these decades. Tradition is a go-getter champ in the Manipur Syllabus. Let’s hope it scores a Gold Medal someday provided time and technology do not play a trick with it.

Long live tradition. Happy festivals, everyone!

This article was published on 6 Oct 2013
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