The 127th birth anniversary of Lamyanba Hijam Irabot, popularly known as Irabot Day was held in Jawaharlal Nehru University, News Delhi on September 30.
The event was organised by the Meitei Students, JNU at Sabarmati dhaba, JNU campus. Rich tributes were paid to the pioneer of modern Manipur by reciting his select poems and singing patriotic songs as well by lighting candles and offering flowers on his portrait. It was reminded that the songs were not songs of joy or celebration but songs sung with deep sadness and anguish as we acknowledged our friends in Manipur who suffered police brutality in the recent protests demanding justice for late Linthoingambi and Hemjit.
Dr. Maibam Nilakanta (JNU alumnus) provided a brief description on the life and works of Hijam Irabot, bringing to light his contributions to arts, literature, youth movement and larger politics of Manipur. He emphasized on the inclusive and progressive approach to politics of Irabot who tried to bridge the hill- valley and religious divides, pursued social reforms to end purity- pollution and untouchability and laid the foundation for imagining a collective idea of Manipur. He also stressed on the need to pursue academic research on and engagement with ideas of Irabot. Speaking at the event, Prof. Bhagat Oinam cherished the sacrifices and commitment of Irabot who gave up his all privileges to work for upliftment of the downtrodden and towards a common future for all. He contrasted Irabot with the self- interested and self- centred leaders of today.
The event also featured a photo exhibition titled, “Where Shall I begin?” and pop up sale of traditional snacks. The idea behind the photo exhibition was to present a vivid and graphic narrative of the developments in Manipur in the last five months. It featured 29 curated photographs which spoke of loss of homes and loved ones, displacement, life in relief camps, resistance and state atrocities among others. The photographs were contributed by writers, activists, photojournalists and research scholars.
The organiser of the event said the purpose for putting up a pop up sale was to raise funds for helping the people of Manipur who are displaced by ethnic violence. Chabungbam Babina (PhD Scholar, CSSS, JNU), who was one of the co-ordinators of the event stated that it was organised in the form of a cultural evening in order to incorporate alternative modes of engagement other than academic discussions and at Sabarmati dhaba (JNU) to reach out to more students, scholars and the larger JNU community. Many students, youths and professors attended the event.