The Unlikely Resistance
This might sound contradictory, but following our own religion can be an act of rebellion in my native place in the conflict-torn Manipur.
It is not only in religion, as we can see from the unconventional living, if we have to follow our indigenous tradition and culture. For the sake of clarity, we live in the easternmost part of India, where nationality is clearest just on official documents.
Besides, we had been following an indigenous faith, until Hinduism made an indelible mark at the cost of identity crisis over the last three centuries. We still have the original faith, yet it takes some sort of non-acceptance to follow it—this is the unlikely resistance.
Three centuries are quite a long time. In fact, Hinduism has become our seemingly original religion, with some people ready to die in Vrindavan and Mathura, a couple of Hindu sacred places. Even after forceful proselytisation, excommunication and a hell lot of coercion, we still worship Sanamahi. No home is complete with a corner set for this deity—imageless, unlike the crores of Hindu gods and goddesses and godmen. Personally, I am a believer in the nonexistence of gods.
Now the more unlikely resistance is in what we wear. Most of us would complain about how the ladies pollute the culture by wearing non-traditional dresses. Yet, the hypocrisy is blatant in how the not-so-gentle men would wear kurta and pyjama, as if we are really real in it.
From the last decade or so, we have also started wearing colourful attires, read fake cultural garments. Here again, the matter is that if we wear khudei-namei to a wedding ceremony, that would be an unlikely resistance even if this is the more original traditional cloth.
Nobloodybody, though, has the gut to wear it and say he does not need others’ approval to live how he likes it.
Is it really necessary to go against the tide for the sake of rebellion? The answer is a big NO. However, it becomes significant to wear or not to wear useless formal garments, when we are in a cultural deepshit. We live in a totally messed-up society, where vice is more rewarding than principles. No day goes without a few murders, rapes, abduction and what not.
A larger picture of this whole social phenomenon is apparent in the existence of the Universal Friendship Organisation. This voluntary cultural group lives on the principles of the native belief system that has been altered, transformed and enhanced throughout the evolutionary process. Though there is personal disapproval in their overemphasis on Meitei supremacy, no one would deny their enthusiasm and action on cultural preservation.
Some of us would not even want to talk about these things, because it makes us look bad in front of others or simply because we cannot accept it. Sometimes it is more important to maintain decorum, just like a box of shit wrapped up in an attractive gift box. Is it too much to say that we are a box of shit?
We think, therefore we are.