Bishnupriya Manipuri people
Bishnupriya Manipuri girls in traditional attire
|Regions with significant populations|
|Bishnupriya Manipuri, Bengali|
|Hinduism (Vaishnavism), Theravada Buddhism, Sunni Islam, Christianity|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Meitei Manipuri people|
The Bishnupriya Manipuris are a group of Indo-Aryan people that are indigenous to the Indian state of Manipur and are also found in neighbouring Assam, Tripura and northeastern Bangladesh. They speak the Bishnupriya Manipuri language, which is of Indo-Aryan origin. The most distinctive feature of the language is it replete with Tibetan-Burmese (Meitei) elements. The culture of the people is almost identical with that of the Meiteis, with the exception of a few folk practices which are prevalent among the Meiteis.
The religious customs and traditions of Bishnupriya Manipuris are unique. They are organised in such a manner that in temple institutions those reveal the real festivity and reflect the curious character of socio-religious life of the valley.
Fine Arts: During the reign of king Bhagya Chandra, towards the 18th century, Vaishnavism became very popular in Manipur. As a result, Vaishnav Palakirtan with Mridanga and Kartalaa became the most prominent factor in Bishnupriya manipuri fine arts. Rasleela is the most important aspect of their culture. Here in Ras-dance the philosophy of the manipuris is the basis on which the philosophy of the Vaisnavism is the body and plot of the dances with the essence of the Bhagavata philosophy.
Festivals: To Bishnupriya Manipuris, festivals are the symbols of their cultural, social and religious aspirations which, besides removing the monotony of life by providing physical diversions, mental recreation and emotional outlet, help them lead a better and fuller life. Bishu, Rathyatra or Kang-Festival, Kartika festival, Maharas Purnima, Phaguwa or yaosang festival etc. are their major festivals.
Marriage: Marriage in society is based on the Hindu pattern and mostly Aryan and non-Aryan elements having certain traditional customs. Marriage is restricted within the gutros in BPM community.
Food: Rice, vegetable and fish are principle foodstuffs of both the Bishnupriyas. Meat and alcohol is strictly prohibited in the society. In religious and social feasts, even fish is never used. Hidol is an important items of the Bishnupriyas to make Paltoi and Irolpa.
Dress and Ornaments: Traditional dress used by the men is called Pachhati – about five feet long cloth manufactured by themselves which worn round the waist. Women usually wear blouses with traditional Lahing/Fanek or Chakshabi (a coarse cloth with lengthwise stripes and embroidered on both sides lengthwise) with an Enaphi (Single or multicolor coarse cloth with laces on both ends) and an Angei or blouse.
- Bishnupriya Manipuri caste is divided into two parts or classes- one is called Rajargang and the other one is known as Madoigang. The group Madoigang mainly inhabit Kamalpur, India.
Language: Although Meitei is the official language and lingua franca in the state of Manipur, Bishnupriya Manipuri people have their own language, with about 120,000 speakers according to the 2001 census. Unlike Meitei, which belongs to the Tibeto-Burman family, Bishnupriya Manipuri is an Indo-Aryan language, like the majority of North Indian languages. Bishnupriya Manipuri belogs to the Eastern group of the family and is written in the Bengali–Assamese script, and although it is close to Bengali, Assamese, and other related dialects, it is a distinct and separate language from all of them. Just as the Bishnupriya Manipuri people share most of their culture with the Meiteis, their language is heavily influenced by Meitei.
- Guru Bipin Singh was a director, choreographer and teacher of Manipuri dance.
- Bedashwor Singh, Indian footballer
- Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha, former Chief Justice of Bangladesh
- Kartik Sena Sinha, the first Bishnupriya Manipuri MLA (BJP) of Patharkandi Constituency.