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Article : Outgrowth of written Limboo poetry in Sikkim: A bird’s eye view


The written Limboo poetry as a mirror of the society basically reflects the socio-economic and political conditions and social way of life, faith and belief and different aspects of the Limboo community in the particular period of time. Some poems attempt to highlight the marginalization of Limboo culture, language and identity while others focus on the social evils of Limboo society.

Outgrowth of written Limboo poetry
Prior to 1951, rhythmic and rhymic folk songs and mundhums among the Limboo tribes were much popular and common form of oral poetry. The poetical songs like Pa:llam, Tumyang Yanghang samlo, Hakparay, Khyali, Phungwa Changma samlo, Tam Akay samlo etc which are still apparent and preserved through oral transmission among the Limboo community have tremendously contributed the writing and growth of various modern Limboo poetry. The folk songs, the most compressed and classic form with stock words, phrases, in ancient days were sang with the tune of mikla ko:m (bamboo harp) and singfekwa (tender leaves) of plants and trees. Mundhum (mythology), which lived since generations and passed down from one generation to another by Limboo shamans; Phedangmas, Sambas and Yebas or Yemas and Tumyanghangs too, greatly influenced and determined the writing of poetic diction of lyrical and metrical Limboo poetry. The alliterative words like ‘a’, ‘hi’ ‘allo’ etc of mundhum (mythology) and folk songs have strong inheritance over the written Limboo poetry. Both mundhum and samlo evolve tremendous exercise and language command over the modern literary Limboo poetry and those poetic and classical devices like words, phrases, rhythms and rhymes used in mundhum still bear ample significant  in enriching and glamoring written Limboo poetry.

Written poetry in Limboo language began in the early fifties of the twenth century with the publication two Limboo premiers, Tum Yakthung Ningwa?phu Sapla and Yakthung Nisige:k Sapla by Iman Singh Chemjong, Mon Bahadur Khamdhak and Padam Singh Muringla. The former was basically grammar containing Limboo alphabets (both vowels and consonants), vocabulary, mundhum (mythology), khahuns (preachings or advices) and a story, while latter contained devotional poems, stories, and compositions of various degree and kinds. Although the historical record for the origin of written Limboo poetry is found to have conceived in the premiers, Tum Yakthung Ningwa?phu Sapla and Yakthung Nisige:k Sapla of 1951 and said to have set a new milestone towards the emergence of written Limboo poetry in Sikkim, yet could not take concrete shape. The poetries appeared only in the form of devotional songs and khahuns. Therefore it only after 1974 that written poetry in Limboo language in Sikkim gradually started growing with the growth of written literature and publication of various books and journals. As such the growth and development of written Limboo poetry in Sikkim though was marked by the publication of Yakthung Nisige:k Sapla of 1951 by Iman Singh Chemjong, Mon Bahadur Khamdhak and Padam Singh Muringla, yet its rapid outgrowth in proper form gained momentum only after 1970s. Since then poetry in Limboo literature has outgrown and gradually started spreading its wings to the horizon of new dimensions with outmost maturity within the span of 60 years which have never been expected in the past decades.

In 1964, Yumasam and Pa:llam by Santa Bir Khamdhak and Pahalman Nembang was written. This was completely poetry book containing two poems entitled Yuma Mang and Pa:llam devotional and lyrical Limboo songs in the poetical form written in Dewnagari script but in Limboo language. In 1974, publication and edition of annual Limboo magazine, Tumdumdo Hena was started by Shri B B Muringla of Lingchom and Chandra Mangyung of Samdong, West Sikkim. This was the first Limboo magazine ever published and produced from Sikkim. This magazine, in its first edition contained two modern Limboo poetries Ningwa?phu-o Ningwa? Tukma Pa:n by B B Muringla and Kombhasit Metnay by Chandra Mangyung. In 1975, second edition of the same magazine was published. In that, there were two poetries, Nahen by Muringla and E:ttangsinglay by Mangyung. In the subsequent years, when Tumdumdo Hena was published, number of Limboo poetries by different writers increasingly appeared. In 1978, another magazine, Nuwa Inghong by trio, Mohn Ijam, R B Le:kwahang Khamdhak and Aitaman Tamling emerged in the field of Limboo literature which further accelerated the growing movement of Limboo poetry.

Meanwhile in between 1975 and 1976, writing of Limboo text books also began. In the Limboo text books, modern Limboo poetries were included as per the school curriculum. This gave Limboo language readers in the schools ample opportunities to taste the glamour of imagination, fancy, ideas, thoughts and poetic diction of the various Limboo poets and could enjoy lyrical, rhetorical and rhymic Limboo poems of both unidirectional and multi-dimensional nature. By 1984, reading of Limboo as one of the core subject began upto class XII. In the text books ranging from Class-I to Class-XII, the poetries of different nature and level were included. In those days, the prominent contributors of the Limboo poetry were Chemjong, Mon Bahadur Khamdhak, B B Muringla, Chandra Mangyung, Jas Hang Maden, Birahi Kaila, Yehang Laoti, Bol Muringla, T B Nembang, S M Tamling, M B Nembang, R B Lekwahang Khamdhak, Nor Bahadur Tamling, Mohn Ijam, Harka Khamdhak, Aita Man Tamling, Mohn Phrumbo, Bir Nembang, Sing Bdr Parangden, Indra Bahadur Setling, Chandra Mani Tumpapo, Menuka Khewa etc. The poetries of those days reflected mostly the social evils and problems which prevailed in the Limboo society at that period of time. The poems were more didactic, appealing for social reforms and change in the society and community. Approach for the rejuvenation of culture, language etc. The literary awakening was dominant theme of most of the poetry.

In the Limboo annual magazines which have mushroomed in 1980s, the poems of various kind and degree appeared. The poems written during this particular point of time mostly appealed for social reforms against prevailing social evils such as over drinking and gambling etc. The poetic diction of the poetry was compressed and emphasized more on meter and syllable. As such the poems were mostly verse or couplets rather than prose type.

In between 1980s and 1990s, the poems which hatched in the issues of annual Limboo journals furthermore added new motion and dimension in paving the way of rapid growth and development of Limboo language and literature in Sikkim. The most of the poets were young and new with new thoughts, ideas, imagination, approach, outlook and dimension. Poets who appeared in the early 1980s and latter part of 1990s were Samberman Tamling, S M Hembya, Bimit Loksum, Purni Maya Nugo, Imeral Khewa, Bhim Mangyung, Deoman Khamdhak, Bishnu Setling, Seru Muringla, Maniraj Hukpa, B B Pokhim, Birkha Begha, Keshab Nambhera, Santa Bir Mangyung, Ash Muringla, Bishnu Lal Sawaden, Purna Singh Nugo, Kul Bahadur Nugo, B B Maden, Suk Bir Tamling, Jas Lal Sawaden, Dinesh Khamdhak, Basanti Parangden, Biru Pakhim, Dhan Roti Khamdhak, Indra Pokhim, P S Ijam, Dirga Man Khamdhak, Bir Bdr Khamdhak, Rup Lal Khamdhak, Aita Bdr Khamdhak, Ram Hang Sise:k Khamdhak, Srijonga Tamlimg, Buddhi Le:kwahang Khamdhak, Tek Bdr Khamdhak, Hasta Pondhak, Dhan Raj Yangwago etc. In the latter part of 20th first century some new faces of poets appeared in the area of Limboo poetry. Those to be mentioned are Sontosh Khamdhak, Raju Samsingbo, Suk Man Khamdhak, Millan Muringla, Dhanraj Khamdhak, Sukman Mangyung, Gambirman Khamdhak, Man Hang Khamdhak, Ajay Mangyung, Leela Tumbapo, Purna Singh Sutlungso Sambha, Bal Hang Le:kwahang etc. Thus, annual Limboo journals not only revitalized Limboo language and literature but along the side, gave huge berth to the new emerging dynamic poets and writers.

In between 1980 and 2013, 46 anthologies of Limboo poetry are written by the different poets. The publication of Limboo anthologies records highest percentage in Limboo literature in Sikkim. The first anthology ever published was a lyrical poetry, B B Muringlaray Kusamiklaha? in 1986 by Mohn Ijam. Thereafter, Soklee:n (1988) by J L Sawaden and Mani Raj Hu:kpa appeared. Then it was followed by Ajibayemha? (1993) of Birkha Pegha, B B Pokhim and Indra Pokhim’s Nerwet Seegangba Ha:mjokwaha? (1993), Mundhuklay Iklaha? (1995) of B L Sawaden, Bhim Mangyung’s Sanumailaray Kusamitlaha? and Sukkum and Sa:khiha? (1996) of Dhan Roti Khamdhak. In 1997, three poetry anthologies, Ani? Ningsangha?, Samitla Itchi (edited) and Hetlukwa by P S Muringla, B B Muringla and Suk Bir Tamling respectively appeared which was followed by Ikla (1996) and Ningsang (1998) of Dhan Raj Yangwago, Siyakpe:ksigangba Fung by P S Ijam, Penjiri Pemmikha? by Buddhi Le:kwahang Khamdhak and Alamdi:k by Ram Hang Sise:k in 1999.  After 2000 also large number of Limboo poetry books, Nosa:n and Mungwa (2001) by Maruk Khamdhak and Santosh Khamdhak, Susangho and  Thokwa-a-Thokwaray Timseba Hingmon (2002)  by Harka Khamdhak and Hasta Pondha:k were published. In 2003, Ka?-e, by Dhan Roti Khamdhak, 2004, Sammey Sammitla and Ramidhamba Manghim respectively by B B Muringla and Sukman Mangyung, 2005, Mikse:n, by Santosh Khamdhak, Cho:tlunglay Thoray?, by Raju Limboo, 2006, Po:ki  and  Hetlukwa by Bol Muringla and B B Pokhim, 2007, Kusong Tanam, Mi:mjiri Mi:m and No:san by Buddhi Le:kwahang Khamdhak,  Birkha Man Nembang and Kamala Menyangbo respectively were written. In 2008, Mi:mjimay and Chotlung by Santosh  Khamdhak and Dhan Raj Khamdhak, 2009, Nyanuphra,  Sumhatlung, Ta:ncho:k, Meringen Mikwaha? and Sonu Sepmangha? by Purna Sing Limboo, Leela Tumpapo, Dhan Raj Khamdhak and  Milan Muringla, 2010, Ningsang Hingmon by Riwaj Sawaden, in 2011, Nosa:n, Ni:sun and Kha:miba A-Gangaba Toklahja? by Riwaj Sawaden and Shanhang Limboo, Birkha Pegha and Bal Muringla, in 2012, Pere:ngwa Sepmangha? and Tepokwaha? by Arun Kumar Limboo and Lahang Limboo and Ashit Limboo and in 2013, two poetry books Hukpanggi  and Adhoklunglen Eaklaha? have been published respectively.

Although there have been rapid growth of poetry in Limboo literature in Sikkim, yet in diction and degree, it has not outreached maturity its standard and dimension. The writing trend of Limboo poetry revolves mostly around marginalization and diction is still runs parallel to the traditional approach.

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