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New Delhi: The ever growing fear of losing one’s own distinct identity has plagued the people residing in the bordering areas of Myanmar and Bangladesh and in the north-eastern states including Assam and Tripura.

Notably, Manipuris have their own script and they are the only mountain tribes who extensively follow the ‘Vaishnavite’ branch of Hindu religion.

Community leader K Sunder Gopal Sharma told reporters, “today, Manipuris in Myanmar hardly number 10,000 as against over one lakh decades ago. Thousands of Manipuris, including devout Vaishnavas, have since converted to Buddhism”. He said military rulers in Myanmar did not encourage the community members to study their own language in schools or converse in it at social gatherings. Gopal said he feared that if nothing is done, the Manipuris in Myanmar will soon see their distinct cultural identity lose out to the native population there.

He said military rulers in Myanmar did not encourage the community members to study their own language in schools or converse in it at social gatherings.

Sharma feared that if no prompt move is taken then the Manipuris in Myanmar will soon lose their distinct cultural identity to the native population there.

The Manipuri villages in Assam and Tripura have seen a huge reduction of the population since Independence.

While over one lakh people dwelled in the area in 1947, only 10,000 people remained in the villages at present. Khaidem Kanta, vice president of Manei, an organisation of the Manipuri diaspora in Barak Valley in Assam, said, the Manipuris in the state are facing cultural and linguistic challenges.

“The younger generation of Manipuris getting schooled in Assam cannot speak fluently or write their mother-tongue. There is job reservation for people of Manipuri origin, but most educated youths do not get through in the absence of an elected leader to champion their cause.”

However, the situation is quite different in Bangladesh as Manipuri people remain connected to their roots. They are still able to maintain their custom and rituals and their cultural heritage remains preserved due to the connection with their natives in India.(Inputs IANS)


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