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The North-East Blog

Know what leading academics, writers, poets, musicians, activists and journalists from the region have to say to develop an informed perspective on matters related to this part of India.

Pena Reaching Out

Almost every tribe in Maipur, be it Kabui, Tangkhul or Meitei has an indigenous fiddle. The Tangkhul call it 'tengtela' while the Meitei call it 'pena'. The bow part is called the 'chajing' and the body is called 'pena maru' and it is often accompanied by the player's vocals.

Many believe this instrument used to be played only in royal courts and at religious functions. In fact, many dance forms of the Meitei community are accompanied by percussion and the pena.

For someone like me, pena is not just an indigenous music instrument. It brings back many memories of childhood days. Every summer we used to wake up to the...Read more...

The Imphal music project

by Akhu Chingangbam
Friday , January 04, 2013 at 17 : 46

The Imphal Music Project is conceived by an Imphal-based band Imphal Talkies which was earlier based in New Delhi. The project is not for art for art's sake or music for music's sake, this project strives to provide a platform to artists in the Indian sub-continent to come together and share certain of their views on life and politics in their region through music. The project's sole aim is to make collaborations happen between Imphal-based musicians and musicians from outside the violence-driven town.

The first session of the project will feature Rahul Ram of Indian Ocean, Guru Rewben Mashangva, Hem Gurumayum, Sunil Loitongbam and Imphal Talkies.

Photo credit: Deepak Shijagurumayum. From left to right: Hem, Sachin, Saka, Sunil, Rewben

I met Rahul Ram in April,...

Can you imagine a paramilitary force camp inside a university campus? If you think it is unbelievable, then come and visit Manipur University. I often wonder how we can have an Assam Rifles camp inside the university. I tried asking many friends the why and the how. But it is Manipur. You can have anything here. We have Irom Sharmila fasting for the last twelve years and at the same time we have the Sangai festival. Every year the festival celebrates incredible Manipur while driving out the poor phumdi dwellers from Loktak Lake.

Some say the camp is there because Canchipur, the location of Manipur University, was once full of PLA (People's Liberation Army). Some even say it is good to have the forces in the campus as many students are involved in underground activities. But I am not satisfied by this explanation....Read more...

This is not a formal review in the straightjacket of literary structures. But as a keen follower and fellow activist in the Manipur literature movement, I feel compelled to give air to what I felt after reading "Manipur Sahitya da Nupeegee Khonjen: An anthology of Womens writing(20th century) in Manipuri", edited by Memchoubi and published by Sahitya Akademi.

Memchoubi, a poet and a critic who emerged in the mid nineteen eighties, could effortlessly map the whole evolution of women's writing in Manipur. Existence of women's writing in Manipur is hardly 50 years old. In the introduction section, Memchoubi's mapping of women writers starts from what Amaibis (Shamans) sing or speak which is an old tradition connected with the celebration of local deities. She sees such songs or words as oral literature. Though this thought has not been brought out...Read more...

It was sometime in 2007 in Delhi when Ashley Tellis, a friend, called me up and asked me to sing a few songs at a protest event at Swami Vivekananda Statue, Arts Faculty, Delhi University. The event was organised by People's Union for Democratic Rights and they were demanding the immediate release of Dr Binayak Sen who had been arrested by the Chhattisgarh Police without citing any reason. I was broke as usual but i managed to take an autorickshaw to the protest venue. All the performers at the event were performing in Hindi. They were singing songs of Safdar Hashmi and many other protest songs. I carried a few printed copies of my own poems that I had written for Dantewada after reading an editorial column of Hindustan Times. I should call it a collage of images of Dantewada rather than poetry because I had translated the...Read more...

It was in 1974 when Yumlembam Ibomcha, Thangjam Ibopishak and Ranjit W, three young poets in their mid-twenties, published an anthology of poems in Imphal; it was titled Shingnaba (Challenge). The two volumes of the anthology, which were out in the successive months of September and October, marked a radical departure from the romanticism espoused by earlier writers like Hijam Anganghal, Khwairakpam Chaoba, Dr Lamabam Kamal. It was a time of rupture. The realities of Manipur - the changing society, the changing religious mores and the political situation - took centrestage.

The power of literature to reflect hard truths came to the fore during this period, the preparation for which could be traced back to the writings of Elangbam Nilakanta back in the 1940s. The burning...Read more...

More about Akhu Chingangbam

Ronid a.k.a Akhu Chingangbam breathes music, politics and physics. Ronid hails from Imphal, Manipur. He leads a Delhi-based protest music band Imphal Talkies N The Howlers. Ronid's poems have been published in different websites and also in Himal magazine. He is doctorate in Physics from Jamia Millia Islamia and now on a post-doctoral assignment in Naresuan University, Phitsanulok, Thailand, working on Cosmology. Ronid can be reached at ronidchi@gmail.com.

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