Meitei Language Day in Manipur Date in the current year: August 20, 2024

Meitei Language Day in Manipur Meitei Language Day, also referred to as Manipuri Language Day, is observed in the Indian state of Manipur on August 20. It commemorates the day when Meitei became one of the so-called scheduled languages of India.

India is a multilingual country that is home to almost 450 languages. Because of this, it has no national language. However, the Constitution of India states that Hindi and English are the official languages of the Union. In addition, the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution lists 22 regional languages with official status, which are referred to as scheduled languages.

The original list of scheduled languages included 14 regional languages: Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kanada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu. Over the following years, eight more languages were added to the list by the 21st, 71st and 92nd Constitutional Amendment Acts.

The Konkani, Meitei (Manipuri) and Nepali languages were added to the list of scheduled languages by the 71th Constitutional Amendment Act that came into effect on August 20, 1992. Meitei is the most widely spoken language and the lingua franca in the Indian state of Manipur. Its official name in India is Manipuri, but many native speakers (and most Western linguists) prefer to use the name Meitei. Outside Manipur, Meitei is also spoken in other states in Northeast India (Assam and Tripura) and in parts of Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Meitei belongs to the Sino-Tibetan language family. It has the highest number of native speakers among the Sino-Tibetan languages spoken in India (almost 1.8 million). Around 200,000 more people speak Meitei as their second language. According to linguists, Meitei has been spoken for 1500–2000 years. It was the court language of the Manipur Kingdom until its merger into the Indian Republic.

The Sahitya Academy has recognized Meitei as one of India’s most advanced languages due to its rich literary traditions. The oldest known epic in Meitei, entitled Numit Kappa (“Shooting of the Sun”), is believed to have been written around 33 AD. Another important literary work in Meitei is Khamba Thoibi, an epic poem consisting of 34,000 verses based on the love story of prince Khamba of Khuman Salai and princess Thoibi of Moirang. The Manipuris regard the poem as their national epic.

The anniversary of the inclusion of Meitei in the list of scheduled languages is observed in Manipur as Meitei Language Day. On this day, cultural organizations and institutions across the state hold various events and activities to celebrate the Manipuri language and literature, ranging from conferences and symposiums to poetry writing and declamation competitions.

Since 2008, the Patriotic Writers’ Forum has presented three literary awards every Meitei Language Day: the Pacha Meetei Literary Award, the R Kathing Tangkhul Literary Award, and the Dr. Saroj Nalini Parratt Literary Award. They are awarded to authors who write in Meitei, regardless of whether they live in Manipur or not, for patriotic-themed short stories.

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Meitei Language Day in Manipur, Manipuri Language Day, cultural observances, holidays in India, holidays in Manipur