Newspapers in Manipur are working towards replacing the Bengali script that’s currently in use with Meitei or the Manipuri script.

 

About the Meitei script

  • The Meitei script was once patronised by Meitei rulers but which fell into disuse with the advent of Hinduism and eventually disappeared.
  • The earliest epigraphic record of the script is a stone inscription from Khoibu village which was erected on the orders of Meidingu Kiyamba (1467-1508).
  • The Meitei Mayek or Meitei script evolved with time and this led to conflict between various proponents. The inscriptions on the coins of the 7th and 8th Century were perhaps in the 18-letter script, which, with the advent of Hinduism in the 17th century during the reign of Meidingu Pamheiba (1709-1748), was perhaps expanded to the 36-letter script.
  • With the advent of Hinduism, Bengali scripts became so popular that stone inscriptions in the 18th and 19th century were in Bengali script.

 

Recent developments

  • The Manipur Official Language Act, 1979, was enacted with the definition of Manipuri language as “Meiteilon written in Bengali script and spoken by the majority of Manipuri population”.
  • By an Amendment Act of 2021, the definition of “Manipuri language” was modified as “Meiteilon in Meetei Mayek and spoken by the majority of Manipur population” with a proviso that for 10 years, both the Bengali and Meitei Mayek scripts shall be allowed.