Bid to dilute ancestors’ patriotic zeal

THOUGH interpretations vary and its exposition inexplicable, freedom; be it of nations or individuals, is an unrivalled blessing and this intrinsic value had been the driving force for the antiquely armed Manipuri forefathers to dare to challenge the might of the globe-trotting British soldiers in the epochal Khongjom War of 1891. Regardless of being fully aware about imminent defeat at the hands of the British invaders, the Manipuri warriors made up of well-fed princes, suffering common folks and piteous peasants fought with all fierceness in the battle of Khongjom and ultimately laid down their lives. It is because of their firm resolve to fight for upholding their freedom rather than live as subjects of the occupational forces that the Manipuri forefathers are being remembered by this generation as well as generations to come. In the same way the calendar event Khongjom Day commemorates the gallantness of the forefathers, Patriots’ Day too is an occasion for remembrance of how the brave-hearts continued to defy the colonial rule in-spite of being taken captive. Even if names of only a handful find prominent mention during observance of Patriots’ Day, it an occasion to pay obeisance to all those documented as well as unknown martyrs, whose concept of liberation and sovereignty was solely rooted in their non-concomitant belief that the motherland needed to be shielded at any cost, notwithstanding the fate they were staring at. The concept of patriotism is a very complex one. It's not as simple as reciting a pledge or singing an anthem. Patriotism, by simple definition, is considered as exaltation of national eminence, typically expressed as power over other nations; in the larger context, and from Manipur’s perspective an emotional attachment to the place that one originates or is residing in.

Patriotism is a value that most people cherish without being required to demonstrate it in visible ways even though it’s a different story when patriotism is narrated from the political perspective as they seem to harbour the notion that it ought to be articulated frequently, demonstrated publicly and enforced in such a manner that it will be an object lesson to the odd dissenter. The Patriots’ Day observance in Manipur has been generally an occasion to remind everyone about our heroic forefathers like Bir Tikendrajit, Thangal General, Chirai Naga, Pukhramban Kajao, Niranjan Subedar and a host of other martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of the motherland and preferred to embrace death and prison rather than live without freedom. Another significant essence of the observance is that the historic day reminds us that if we do not live and work together we stand to lose. Sadly, certain individuals have adopted the concept which value self ahead of others and always seek advantage. The observance also assumes significance in the context of Manipur’s present socio-political situation, wherein certain groups are vehemently opposed to the common history or are proclaiming that there is no common future in the ‘present state of Manipur’. These people are also leaving no stone unturned to project the common history as that of a particular group of people. Foremost of all, the concept of unity and faith, espoused by our forefathers is something that we as threatened indigenes need to hold steadfast to, since this is our only panacea against internal and external agents of unrest. It was not without a reason that they believed unity and sacrifice to be the granters of power and sanction, necessary for greater progression.

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