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Ordinary girls from Arunachal Pradesh, India
Posted by: Arunachal Prahesh, India ()
Date: June 19, 2010 01:14PM

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Posted by: Manipuri ()
Date: November 03, 2009 10:25PM

Manipuris are approximately classified into two distinct races namely the Bishnupriya and the Meiteis. The former group of the people is of Indo-Aryans origin and the later section has identified them as the Kuki-Chin branch of the Mongolian stock.

Bishnupriya and Meiteis

The Meiteis came in Manipur from the east, and they are a yellow-skinned Kuki-Chin people. On the other hand the Bishnupriyas entered Manipur from the west and so their trait is Aryan and dark-skinned. There is a legend prevalent and originated in a purana or puya called “Khumal Purana” on origin of the name Meitei and Bishnupriya. This purana affirms that conversion of Meiteis in Hinduism by Shri Santidas Babaji in 18th century at the instance of the king Shri Pamhaiba was aimed at linking the with the Aryans, the mainstream of people of Manipur and their language too with Sanskrit. The Aryans, the followers of Lord Vishnu denied accepting the initiation by Shri Santadas Babaji .And thus the Manipuri people Aryan and Kuki-chin group have been classified and renamed as Bishnupriya and Meiteis.

Bishnupriyas living in the political boundary of Assam, Tripura, Myanmar and Bangladesh are a fraction of the people who migrated from Manipur during 18th and 19th century due to political insecurity and Burmese attack. After Seven years devastation (1819-1826) some went back to their land and those who couldn’t, settled in their new places. The major settlements are Silchar in Assam, Komolpur in Tripura and Sylhet in Bangladesh.

The Meitei society has shared with the nagas and kukis who are the other two dominant communities. The Meiteis had a feudal Kingdom since 33 AD under the Ningthouja Dynasty which still exist now. The term Meitei now refers to four social groups now – the Meitei marup (believe in only Meitei culture and God), Meitei goura (believe in both Meitei and Hindu gods), the Meitei Brahmins (locally called Bamons) and the Meitei Muslims (called Meitei Pangal or just Pangal). All of them have Meiteilon as their mother-tongue.

Rabindranath Tagore: Patron of Manipuri Culture

Rabindranath Tagore was the greatest patron of the Manipuri culture who popularized the Manipuri style of dance with its high zenith among the people of the world. From Tagore’s writings and other historical accounts we can learn a little bit about his visit in Sylhet in 1919. In November 6, Rabindranath had a visit in the Bishnupriya village of Machimpur, Sylhet and given a warm reception there from the Bishnupriya Manipuri people. He was so electrified after seeing a dance composition, the Goshtha Lila presented by the Bishnupriya Manipuri women. After seeing the demonstrations Rabindranath introduced himself to the people and wanted to be informed more about their dance and culture. He also met that time superintendent Mr Tanu Singha and looked for a Manipuri Oja (dance teacher) who was capable of communicating in Bangla. Mr Tanu Singha introduced great Guru Nileshwar of Baligaon. Tagore intended to bring the dance teacher to his idyllic institute, Shantiniketon. In 7 November, 1919 Rabindranath mentioned about his experience in Machimpur and the Bishnupriya Manipuri people in the speech in a historical gathering of students at Sylhet M.C. College hall. The speech was published in a literary journal “Akangkha” of Shantiniketan (1920).

Tagore brought back Guru Nileshwar Mukharjee to serve in his Visva-Bharati University at Santiniketan. Manipuri Ojas like Guru Senarik Rajkumar, Nabakumar Singha, Muhu Singha, Guru Bipin Singha, Sri Bihari Singha and Sri Adityasena Rajkumar were invited to Shantiniketon in presence of Rabindranath. After that period Manipuri dance took its special place in Shantiniketon with Bhatnatyam, Kathak and Kothakali, the other classical dance forms India.. Later many other renowned gurus from Manipur and Assam were invited from to teach this dance in Shantiniketan. Gradually the practice of this dance form extended outside the Manipuri community and was practiced with great enthusiasm, especially among the Bengalis and other Indian people.

Social Structure and Religious Practice

However, it is a joint family pattern of Manipuris including the Swapinda or Direct blood relationship bearing upon inheritance. The social order is patriarchal. The father is the chief of the family and he is the soul authority over his possessions and on his death, the responsibility of the family falls on the shoulder of the eldest son. The women always reside in an honorable place in the Manipuri society. Sometimes they are treated at same level with male. The institution of Marriage in Bishnupriya Manipuri society is based on the Hindu pattern and mostly Aryan and non-Aryan elements having certain traditional customs. Bishnupriya Munipuris do not construct houses in hill areas except in the plane lands. Their traditional house is called Inchau made of wood and bamboo fenced by Khapak, a kind of hemp plant with the fibers of the hemp of the top. Also tins are used to build houses. Traditional Bishnupriyas are proud to build their houses with the traditional pattern, although modern buildings are also found in the Bishnupriya Manipuri locality.

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Peace Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi -Manipuri Indian?
Posted by: Aung San Suu Kyi ()
Date: November 03, 2009 10:32PM

There is an estimated 40,000 people of Meitei origin in Myanmar, according to a Myannmar Indian Embassy official, most of them concentrated around Mandalay, the old seat of power of the erstwhile kingdom of Ava. Of these only about 3, 000 have remained as Meiteis, speaking Manipuri, refusing to intermarry, refusing to give up their Hindu faith, refusing to eat meat, retaining their Hindu names, and all these for nearly 200 years now, since the time in the chapter in Manipur’s history written in letters of blood known as “Chahi Taret Khuntakpa” (Seven Years of Devastation) in which the powerful army of Ava, early in the 19th Century, invaded and occupied Manipur and Assam, brutally suppressing their people. They were probably taken away because they were skilled labour, and the most favoured amongst them were the Bamons, whose horoscope writing and fortune telling skills were prized in the land of Ava. It is not surprising then that the 3,000 still holding their own, and in the process reserving small pockets of lands in the wide sweltering plains of tropical Myanmar to remain as Manipur forever, are Bamons.

The last dynasty that ruled the kingdom of Ava, the Konbaung, shifted capitals four times from Shwebo to Ava to Amarpura and finally to Mandalay, all within 20 km of each other.

The fortuneteller’s privileged position in the Ava kingdom is not far to decipher why. Of the many things that people in Myanmar share with Manipur, and for that matter most of the northeast region, is the belief in spirits, some good and others evil. Even today, despite Buddhism, or Christianity in the case of the hill ethnic communities other than the Burmans, still worship these spirits or “Nat” in Myanmarese. This “Nat”, as we could gather during our short stay in the country is strikingly similarly to what the Meiteis also refer to as “Ipa Nat, Ipu Nat”, (spirit of ancestors). Again, Myanmarese, like much of the Hindu world, believe in the influence of planetary movements and positions on the fortunes of individuals.

We had a difficult time locating the settlement areas of the Meiteis in Mandalay, precisely because they are not known as Meiteis or Manipuris locally. For reasons we did not have the time seek a satisfactory answer, they have come to be referred to as the Paona community. When we did finally arrive at a Paona settlement, we got off our taxi and queried a group of young men in the typical Myanmarese lungi if they know of a Meitei colony nearby. One of them, Brajabasi by name, said to our delightful amazement “Eisu bamon-ni. Si Bamon Leikai-ni.”(I am a Bamon. This is a Bamon colony). He was also visibly excited to see us and promptly took us to elderly Eigya Sayacharan’s homestead.

It was a typical Meitei-Bamon home. The house faced east with a courtyard in front and a tulsi plant in the middle of it. There were other houses adjacent to it, all also facing east. At the southern flank of courtyard is a temple with an extended portico (mandap) that took up two thirds of the courtyard space. Pictures from Hindu myths decorated the inside of the eaves hanging from the ceiling of the portico. A bell tower next to the mandap consisting of two brick pillars between which suspended a heavy bell with a string attached to the ringer extending to the ground, overlooked the entire complex. With a few modifications, it could have residential setup in Imphal’s many Bamon Leikais.

We were invited to enter Eigya Sayacharan’s house. We removed our shoes before we climbed the verandah. One of Eigya’s sons entreated us not to take the trouble in a Manipuri that showed the antiquity of the 200 years that have lapsed since his immediate forefathers lost contact with Manipur.

“Khurum yai,” (footwears allowed) he gestured. We removed our shoes nevertheless, assuming quite correctly it was only the demands of courtesy that made him say so.

The feeling was of entering a time warp and being thrown back 200 years into the past. For 200 years, because of momentous shifts in regional as well as global politics, these Meitei-Bamons remained totally cut off from their original homeland, Manipur. In a phenomenon that would be of immense interest to any researcher into the mystique of identity, this small community put up a strong resistance against all odds to preserve their distinct identity for all of two centuries. It is also interesting that while the Bamons have fought on to remain distinct, the non-Bamon Meiteis dropped the resistance gradually and have come to be merged to the sea of Myanmarese all around. Even the Bamons today maintain official Myanmarese names and their Meitei names are for use within their community only, but they have made the latter a ritualistic compulsion.

One explanation is that Brahimins (Bamons) being not a warrior class, they did not suffer from prosecution or overbearing vigilance under the Ava kings as the non-Bamon Meiteis who were much more warlike. The latter were hence under much greater pressures to conform to the Ava society and culture for their own survival.

The Meitei-Bamon community in Myanmar would have remained much bigger if not for the puritanical manner they have been maintaining the purity of blood line. Anybody who marries outside the community, girl or boy, is excommunicated and outcast. The community has shrunk because of this, but this has kept their identity intact.

“This is essential as otherwise we would have vanish from the face of the earth long ago,” said Eigya Sayacharan.

But this has given rise to certain foreseeable problems. One of these is the growing difficulty young men and women in finding suitable matches for themselves within the community as Meitei custom forbids intermarriage between anybody within seven generations of blood kinship. Hence a lot have chosen to remain single rather than marry outside the community and give up their Meitei identity.

What is it that gave them the strength to put up such a heroic resistance for so long?

“A burning love for Manipur, the home of our ancestors.” Eigya said, in what may be one of the most touching tributes to the Meitei identity and its tremendous survival instinct.

The odds that Eigya Sayacharan’s generation and so too all generations of orthodox, zealous, new convert Hindu Meiteis before him would have faced, is visible even today. Just the example of food habit of the place should be able to give a picture of the magnitude of this disconcertment. Myanmar is a country difficult for vegetarians. A Marwari lady who traveled with us, complained she had to do without a morsel of food for two complete days on our extended return bus journey for she did not find a single vegetarian restaurant on the way.

True to her words, everywhere we stopped to eat, there was not a single eating place which did not have all kinds of cooked, exotic meat displayed prominently at the entrance. These included beef, dog meat, pork, birds and fishes of all shapes and sizes strung up on long thin bamboo spikes. At some place there dried jungle cats and venison available. The difficulty that the Marwari lady went through for two days was what 10 generations of non-conforming, orthodox Meiteis Hindus would have had to live with and overcome.

Surprisingly, not many of the Meiteis in Mandalay we met were clear about how they came to be living in Myanmar. They have an abiding memory of Manipur as their ancestral land of milk and honey, but only very vague recall such events as the Chahi Taret Khundakpa.

On the other hand, how would they? After all, Myanmarese school and college history curriculums give very scant space and attention to this chapter of their history. When we reminded them of our understanding of this period of our common history, all they could say was that such and such teacher also said so.

This is a summary of how Peace Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi deals with the chapter in her primer of Myanmar (Burma by her preference) history, geography and demography, titled “Let’s Visit Burma”:

“In 1635, the Burmese kings moved their capital to Ava. The following century brought a tangle of troubles with the Shans, the Chinese, the Thais, the Mons and the Indian border state of Manipur. A rebellion started in lower Burma in 1740. In 1752 a force of Mons burnt Ava and took the king prisoner. The Toungoo dunasty had come to an end.”

(The event was also the beginning of the Konbaung dynasty. This dynasty brought the third unification of Burma and also was at the helm when the “Chahi Taret Khuntakpa” happened.)

“The first Konbaung kings were strong and warlike. Arakan was brought into the Burmese kingdom. Manipur and Assam on the Indian border became vassal states. There were also many wars with the Thais. But the old pattern of neighbouring kingdoms fighting for supremacy had been altered by the coming of the Europeans….. However, it was in 1824 that the first Anglo-Burmese War broke out, over Manipur and Assam. The Burmese could not hold out against the modern military equipment of the British. As a result of the defeat, Burma had to give up its claims to Manipur and Assam.”

Before leaving the Mandalay Bamon Leikai, the entire executive committee of the Gundija Mandir, the community temple, came out to bid us adieu. They made one request to me to send them a copy of a contemporary Manipuri to English dictionary after I reach Imphal. I promised I would. It is one promise I would not dare not keep.

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Tangra is a distinct and unique Chinese suburbs in Kolkata India
Posted by: dhapa ()
Date: August 27, 2009 11:04AM

Dhapa or Popular known as Tangra is a distinct and unique Chinese suburbs in Kolkata India. They are a group of Chinese people with great pride and tradition. This web page is to honor those in and from tangra who have earned their freedom and liberty through sweat and blood. The Chinese in Kolkata(Calcutta) have always faced political ,social and economic insecurities and challenges.

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Re: Tangra is a distinct and unique Chinese suburbs in Kolkata India
Posted by: Blood, Sweat, and Mahjong ()
Date: August 27, 2009 11:05AM

Blood, Sweat, and Mahjong is a famous book written by Ellen Oxfeld.

It’s about the Family and Enterprise in an Overseas Chinese Community that is the Chinese in India, Tangra.

In her Book she describes: Although they are “pariah capitalists” who face political insecurity in India, the Hakka Chinese have since their migration during the First World War come to control the city of Calcutta’s tanning industry. Drawing on extensive fieldwork among the Calcutta Hakka as well as members of their community who have migrated to Toronto, Ellen Oxfeld sheds new light on the complex interrelations among their entrepreneurial ideology, family structures, and ethnicity.

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Re: Tangra is a distinct and unique Chinese suburbs in Kolkata India
Posted by: Hakka Chinese ()
Date: August 27, 2009 11:06AM

Vast Majority of the Chinese in India are Hakka Chinese. So who are Hakka People ?

The Hakka people are a subgroup of the Han Chinese people based in the provinces of Guangdong, Jiangxi and Fujian in China and speaking the Hakka language. Their ancestors were often said to have arrived from what is today’s central China centuries ago, but the origins of the Hakkas is still a contested issue. It is said that in a series of migrations, the Hakkas moved, settled in their present locations in southern China, and then migrated overseas to various countries throughout the world.

The use of the term Hakka to describe this people is thought to be comparatively recent, dating to the Qing Dynasty (c. 17th century). Their ancestors migrated southwards several times because of social unrest, upheaval, and the invasion of foreign conquerors, since the Jin Dynasty (265-420). Subsequent migrations occurred at the end of the Tang Dynasty when China fragmented, during the middle of the Song Dynasty which saw massive depopulation of the north and a flood of refugees southward, when the Jurchens captured the northern Song capital, at the fall of the Song to the Mongols in the Yuan Dynasty, and when the Ming Dynasty fell to the Manchu who formed the Qing Dynasty. Some of these migrants did not want to reveal where they were from as, under Chinese Laws, a crime of treason committed by one person is punishable by death upon the clan of that person up to nine generations. As the locals did not know where the migrants were from, they referred to them as ‘guest families‘.

The Hakka people have a marked cuisine and style of Chinese cooking which is little known outside the Hakka home. Hakka cuisine concentrates on the texture of food – the hallmark of Hakka cuisine. Whereas preserved meats feature in Hakka delicacy, stewed, braised, roast meats, ‘texturized’ contributions to the Hakka palate have a central place in their repertoire. In fact the raw materials for Hakka food are no different from raw materials for any other type of regional Chinese cuisine, what you cook depends on what is available in the market. Hakka cuisine may be described as outwardly simple but tasty. The skill in Hakka cuisine lies in the ability to cook meat thoroughly without hardening it, and to naturally bring out the proteinous flavour (umami taste) of meat.

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Re: Tangra is a distinct and unique Chinese suburbs in Kolkata India
Posted by: My story ()
Date: August 27, 2009 11:08AM

Kwai-Yun Li’s parents (of Hakka Chinese descent) emigrated to a small alley in Calcutta called Chattawalla Gali. These collected short stories (and the short ones are truly concise, six to eight pages), reflect on the marginalized Chinese community that Kwai-Yun Li grew up in, without a trace of over-sentimentality or learned helplessness. Li has now settled in Canada, and these stories reveal her early years in India.

The Hakka (“guest people”) Chinese in Calcutta have been immigrating to Kolkata from Southern China since the 1920s. They developed enterprises that the Indians in Kolkata shunned. “The Chinese went into businesses which the Hindus found polluting: leather-tanning, hairdressing, shoe-making, carpentry, and restaurant-keeping.”

Eventually Chinese immigrants to India, (whether Hakka, or Cantonese from Guangzhou, Fukkianese from the coastal area, or Toi-sanese from the fertile Sai-yup lowlands) became prosperous by the time India gained independence from the British in 1947. By the 21st century however, conflicts between India and China, and India-Pakistan conflicts pushed out Chinese businesses. “… the Chinese returned to China or emigrated to Taiwan, Hong Kong, North America, Australia and Europe.”

Political conflicts, as we are witnessing all over the world, take a huge toll on vulnerable communities. As Mao comes to power in mainland China, we hear intense responses for or against Chairman Mao or General Chiang Kai Shek, who led Chinese populations to Taiwan.

The short story entitled “Last Dragon Dance in Chinatown” addresses divisive conflicts. The young narrator in the story fights with her friend Raindrop, whose father admires Chairman Mao. Raindrop exclaims, “Of course he (Mao) is nice. He is nicer than Chiang Kai Shek. Father said Chairman Mao is a good man.”

“My brother says they are both wicked men,” I said. “Lots and lots and lots of people died because Mao and Chiang fought and fought and fought.”

While children are trying to sort out these realities for themselves, the Indian government imprisons Maoist sympathizers, as tensions between the Maoist regime and India escalate.

The light-hearted, humorous stories are equally evocative. In the delightful story “Uncle Worry,” we meet Uncle Chien, who “… worries when his eldest daughter, Pi Moi, forgets to call him. He worries that she and her husband, Mohamed, have had a falling out. He worries when Pi Moi calls …” And we are drawn more fully into extended family life.

Kwai-Yun Li revisits Kolkata’s Chinatown called Tangra, in the 1920s, a square mile that sits on “reclaimed swamp land, the whole area dotted with ponds, fish farms, and garbage dumps, and … open sewers.” These stories are a far cry from India, Inc., and India’s continuous economic growth in the 21st century. Even as we grow, we could learn from the past, and attempt to integrate marginalized immigrants more fully into mainstream Indian life.

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Story From Afar – Calcutta, India
Posted by: Search on Youtube ()
Date: August 27, 2009 11:09AM

Search on Youtube: “Story From Afar – Calcutta, India” – produced by Hong Kong Asia Television Channel is worth viewing. The story was touching and many viewers shed a tear.

This is a 3-part series of a true story about the life-struggles of a maternal grandmother with her two grand-children living in Chattawala Gully in old Chinatown, Calcutta. When the series were first aired many years ago, it received overwhelming support and sympathy from viewers in Hong Kong – so much so that ATV and local newspapers were inundated with donations and support. A Trust Fund was then set-up with World Vision to take care of the grandmother and the two children’s livelihood and education.

Sadly, after a few years, when the TV crews return to Calcutta to visit the family, the grandmother had already passed away and cremated by the Missionaries of Charity.

On other “India” series, there were 5-6 different stories on Chinese in Calcutta and elsewhere in India. Will share out again when available.

“Story from Afar” is the pioneer of overseas Chinese stories about their sweet-sour-bitter settlement and livelihood around the globe. It had won many international awards. Since then, many other Chinese TV stations abroad have started to make similar documentaries.

These serials were also aired in North America before on Chinese Channels. Enjoy.

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Re: Tangra is a distinct and unique Chinese suburbs in Kolkata India
Posted by: Legend of Fat Mama ()
Date: August 27, 2009 11:10AM

Anyone remember the Cool documentary made about our place in like 1990 approx. It was aired on BBC.
A lot of people forgot about it. I would be nice to have that on the site too and other people can check it out in addition to “Legend of Fat Mama”

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Khasi-Where woman rule in India and Englishman Tim Wallace
Posted by: administrator ()
Date: October 15, 2015 02:52PM

When not entertaining the public in town centres across Yorkshire and Lancashire, Tim travelled extensively to India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. When the money ran out, he would return home, juggle frantically and return to his travels.

Mr Wallace's itinerant lifestyle has led to numerous adventures
But his itinerant lifestyle came to an abrupt halt while travelling through a remote area of the north-eastern Indian state of Meghalaya in 1998.
"I wanted to travel through the Garo Hills because I had a relative who was posted in the area during the days of the Raj," he says.

"I was staying in a village in a jungle when I met Minna and I immediately fell in love with her smile."
But any hope of romance was strictly forbidden by her family, who are members of the Garo tribal community.
"Minna comes from a small village where many tribal people are extremely conservative," explains Tim.
Fearsome reputation
Many rural Garos live in matrilineal communities - where property is inherited through the female line - and where men traditionally are hunter-gatherers.
Tim Wallace outside the Star Bird language school
Mr Wallace is now Tura's top English teacher
Barely more than 100 years ago the tribe had a fearsome reputation as head-hunters - the decapitated heads of their enemies were often displayed on poles alongside village boundaries.
The smitten couple decided to ignore opposition to their union by eloping together.
"I spent a night in the jungle and arranged to meet Minna on a bus heading for the state capital, Shillong," Tim says.
"I boarded it with a towel over my head to escape recognition and initially even she didn't recognise me!"
Minna told her family that she was going to Shillong to stay with relatives, but they soon discovered this to be untrue.
"They were so angry that they went absolutely nuts," recalls Tim, "and looking back I am amazed at Minna's bravery in defying her family to be with me.
"I think I am the first foreigner to marry a Garo woman and stay within the community."
Gradually people in Minna's home village accepted the couple, made them welcome and helped them manage their three hectares of land. Tim learned to speak basic Garo within six months.
The plot was jointly inherited by Tim because Minna comes from a matrilineal society and it was held in her name. For six years the couple eked out a living as subsistence vegetable farmers.
Baby Amazonia
Baby Amazonia has added a new dimension to Mr Wallace's life
"But I was under no illusions that the land belonged to Minna and if ever her family wanted to kick me out, they could do so at the drop of a hat. To that extent I felt I was embarking on something of a risky adventure!
"It was really tough. I had three bouts of chronic malaria, and became so weak that I could no longer cope with the work and the heat in addition to the snakes and scorpions."
Ten years on, the couple remain as devoted to each other as ever, but Tim says their married life has not always been a bed of roses.
"Our backgrounds are totally opposite," says Tim. "I come from a relatively rich, middle class, multicultural western society and can access any information I want. I have been able to travel where I want and do anything I like.
Mr Wallace and Minna in the gardens of the Star Bird language school
The couple together have survived numerous scrapes
"Minna on the other hand comes from a small village where people are mostly conservative farmers, monocultural and reluctant to accept outside influences."
The couple are now jointly launching an English-language school in Tura which, because of Tim's nationality, has attracted numerous enquiries from prospective students.
Tim says that his long-term aim is to raise enough money to take his daughter Amazonia back to England to meet his mother for the first time.
"Life out here has been difficult, uncertain and at times dangerous," he says, "but it has been much more rewarding than juggling in the streets of Barnsley!"

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