There is no original population of Manipuris as Muslims. they
entered Manipur from Sylhet and Cachar. Some entered along with the royal
troops. They settled in Manipur and most of them married the Meitei girls.
Muslims of Manipur were divided into four classes on the basis of labour. They
are sepoys, gardeners, turners and potters. The Muslims from Cachar were
employed as labourers in the agricultural fields. Some of them started their own
cultivation. At present the Muslims are living in several villages at Mayang,
Imphal, Yaripok, Lylong, Thoubal etc. Their main occupation is agriculture. Some
educated ones also seek official jobs in state and central government service.
They are intelligent and hard-working persons. They have mixed characters of
Mongoloid and Aryans in their features. They follows all norms of the Muslim
The Sikhs settled in Manipur are of Punjab origin but most of
them have come from Burma where they had gone from Punjab in earlier times. Some
of them entered Manipur after the Second World War and some others after the
Burmese government disallowed them the citizenship. They have Gurudwaras at
Imphal and Moreh. At these two places only they are largely concentrated. All Sikhs keep beard and wear turban. They are strict in keeping
the five "ks", the kesha, kangha, kripan, kara, kachha i.e. to grow
hair, keep comb, keep sword, keep armlet and wear shorts. All Sikhs are
businessmen dealing in transport, cloths and contracts etc. They are pioneer
transporters in Manipur. Salwar-Kurta or Sari-blouse is the common dress among
Sikh women. They speak Punjabi among themselves but are also fluent in Meitei
and even tribal languages. The Sikhs of Moreh also speak Burmese. They are an
adaptable society. They keep their culture and are very particular about their
faith and the ritualistic performances in the Gurudwaras and their homes. Sikhs believe in the gurus, the great religious teachers who got
the inspirations from the God and taught the masses to follow the right path.
For the Sikhs the guru is the guide tot he religious path.
Nepalis started settling in Manipur after the Second World War.
The retired army personnel were settled at Senakaithal near Singmei. Most of the
Nepalis entered Manipur as servants and labourers and settled here. They went
into the interiors of the hills and found a suitable climate for grabbing land.
Some started cultivation of the tribal chief's land as tenants with sufficient
share of the crops. They were known for cattle rearing. Most of the settlers
started dairies along with their agriculture. Nepalis have scattered into small
valleys in Mao, Maram, Karong and Kangpokpi areas. This is the main belt of
Nepalis and they have improved agriculture and crops in Kangpokpi,
Tomei-Tamenglong areas. Their thick population is between Tomei and Kangpokpi. The greatest contribution of the Nepalis is to transform the
habitat to their advantage.
Some people of lower caste entered Manipur and they got good
promises for their labour and jobs. Safaiwalas, cobblers, watermen, gardeners,
washer men etc were not available. Manipur being a casteless society was
unmindful of these requirements. In Manipur these jobs are done by all. There
are some Sudra Manipuris who are supposed to be the descendants of immigrants
who married Manipur women. This is also a class called Kalacheiya or
Bishnupuris which consists of descendants of Doms and other Bengalis of low
castes. They have played an important role in the society. In Manipuri society
they are respected. There is no concept of untouchability. Those who are
declared bona fide citizens of Manipur get the reservation benefits.
Most of the labour class comprises people of Bihar and Uttar
Pradesh. They have come here to earn their bread. They are fluent in Meitei as
well as in Tribal dialects. They have established themselves throughout the
valley on all routes. Biharis speak their Hindustani and also learn tribal dialects.
This linguistic exchange is a great social advantage to both sides. The Biharis
have maintained their culture. Their Hindustani dress will never change. They
are all Hindus. Some are from upper castes and some from scheduled castes. Some
Muhamadans have also migrated from Bihar in search of jobs or to run shops in
Manipur. The curious character of Biharis is that they get adapted to any
society. They are very good at business. They give due respect to the tribal and
Meitei social custom and take part in the social ceremonies. The Biharis help
each other and they are known for their unity.