Introduction

The Bishnupriya Manipuri is a 98.37% Hindu community living in India mostly in the Cacher district of Assam and Moulvibazar district of Sylhet division (Bangladesh). They point to the Manipur state of India as their homeland, and they still have a majority of their people in various northeastern states of India. They are mostly farmers, though their younger generations are becoming increasingly more educated and looking for other opportunities. They are very proud of their culture/religion, and are well-known in world’s for their dances; their identity is very much tied to their Hindu culture/religion. Largely because of this, there is still not a single known others religion among the Bishnupriya Manipuri in India and Bangladesh.

‘Bishnupriya Manipuri’ with their very rich cultural heritage specially in their classical dance and music have been further enriched by being included in the Indian mainstream in the form of dance, music and drama. They greatly contribute to the richness and variety of Indian culture. The Bishnupriya Manipuris Gurus played a significant part in propagating the Indian Manipuri Dance since long throughout the world.

Bishnupriya Manipuri – A language originated in Manipur

Works of both Indian and European Scholars bear testimonies to the existence of Bishnupriya Manipuri in Manipur in the earliest time. The “Khumal Purana” Of Pandit Navakhendra Singh refers to the existence of Bishnupriya Manipuri language in Manipur during the reign of Garib Nawaj. Pandit Navakhendra states – ” The main stream of Manipuri, the Aryan origin people, the khumal, Moirang, Angam and Luwang who are following the Vedic cult from the epic ages being the devotees of Lord Vishnu distinguish themselves from the Meitheis”.  The language originated and developed in Manipur and was originally confined to the surroundings of the Loktak Lake.

Other authorities such as An account of the valley of Manipore by Col. McCulloch, Descriptive Ethnology of Bengal by E. T. Dalton and the Linguistic Survey of India by George Abraham Grierson mention that the language was in existence in Manipur before the 19th century. Dr. Grierson calls the language as “Bishnupuriya Manipuri”, while some other writers call it simply “Bishnupriya”. The principal localities where this language was spoken are now known as Heirok, Mayang Yamphal, Bishnupur, Khunan, Ningthankhong, Ngaikhong, Thamnapoxpi.