Mayang (term)

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Mayang is a term used by the Meeteis in Manipur to refer to non-Manipuri Indians, especially North Indians[1] including the Assamese, Bengali Hindus, Biharis, Marwaris etc. [2] Historically the term has been used to denote the Bishnupriya Manipuris and Bengali Hindus,[3] who are considered by Meiteis to be outsiders in Manipur. The term was later casually used to denote 'foreigner' during the militancy in Manipur, which effectively translated to Indians from outside the state.[4] Indians in general and Bengali Hindus in particular became the targets of attacks. According to journalist Kishalay Bhattacharjee, the term is synonymous to Dkhar in Meghalaya.[5]


[unreliable source?]

The ancient city of Manipur, called Lamangdong now Bishnupur, was located at the foothills of the mountains overlooking the Loktak lake and Imphal to the east. When the Meiteis arrived in Manipur from the Chinese territories, they found Bishnupur to be a bustling city where many people lived. In their Chinese dialect, they began to use 'Mi-Yang', literally meaning 'many people', to refer to Bishnupur as a crowded place.[6] In gradual usage, 'Mi-Yang' got corrupted to 'Mayang' and it was used by the Meiteis to refer the place as well as the people. The ancient city of Bishnupur came to be known as Mayang, now officially as Mayang Imphal, which is a town 27 km south of Imphal, on the northern shores of Loktak lake. The people of Bishnupur or the Bishnupuriyas or Bishnupriyas also came to be known as Mayang.

Later, as the Bishnupriya Manipuri population got scattered to the west of Manipur, in neighbouring Cachar and Tripura, the term Mayang began to be used by the Meiteis, to denote people who belonged to those lands. In gradual usage it came to stand for 'foreigner' or 'person from the West (of Manipur)'.[7][8]

According to the Meitei version, the Bishnupriya Manipuris are descendants of low caste Bengali Hindus, who were brought to Manipur by the Manipuri kings in multiple phases.[9] In the 17th century CE, Khagemba settled a batch of Bengali Hindu prisoners of war.[9] In the 18th century, 120 Bengali Hindu families of various castes were settled in the Manipur valley by Pamheiba.[9] During the reign of Bhagyachandra, another batch of 65 Bengali Hindu families settled in the valley under the leadership of Dhanapati Rajkumar.[9] The Meiteis, contend that the Bishnupriya Manipuri people being descendants of the Bengali Hindus are foreigners to Manipur and are therefore referred to as Mayang. The Meitei identification of the Bishnupriya Manipuris as Mayang, led to researchers listing them as Mayang. Linguist S.A. Grierson described the Bishnupriya Manipuris as a tribe called Mayang, who spoke a mongrel form of Assamese.


The term is used for who are not from Manipuri. It is a term which means foreigner in Manipuri dialect.

Kwak Mayang[edit]

The Corvus splendens or Indian crow is known as Mayang Kwak in Meitei language. The Meiteis maintain that Indian crow originally was not native to Manipur. As it arrived from the west, it is known as Mayang Kwak, literally meaning 'foreign crow' or 'western crow'. Australian dancer Louise Lightfoot has recorded in her memoir a popular game among the Meitei children called 'Kwak Mayang', literally meaning 'foreign crow'. The children cling behind each forming a moving line. The leader swerves the direction of the movement as if dodging attacks from the foreign crow that is attacking them from the front.[10] During her travel in Manipur, little boys used to jeer at her calling her Mayang and older boys used to laugh out at her harassment.[10]

Mayang Halo[edit]

Militants raised the violent war cry of 'Mayang Halo!', literally meaning 'Foreigners go back!'.[11] As the movement gained momentum across the state, general Manipuris got involved in it. Young boys armed with knives and lathis terrorized the streets.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sen, Sipra (1 January 1992). Tribes and Castes of Manipur: Description and Select Bibliography. New Delhi: Mittal Publications. p. 69. ISBN 9788170993100. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  2. ^ Gluhovic, Milija; Menon, Jisha (14 September 2017). Performing the Secular: Religion, Representation, and Politics. Springer. p. 211. ISBN 9781137496089. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  3. ^ Sanajaoba, Naorem, ed. (1988). Manipur, Past and Present: The Heritage and Ordeals of a Civilization, Volume 4. New Delhi: Mittal Publications. p. 152. ISBN 9788170998532. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  4. ^ Bhanjdeo, Akshita Manjari (2015). India and Its Northeast Exception: From Frontier to Forefront (Senior Project). Bard College. p. 29. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  5. ^ Bhattacharjee, Kishalay (11 April 2013). Che in Paona Bazar. New Delhi: Pan Macmillan. ISBN 9781447247418. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  6. ^ Srihatta Kachar Anusandhan Samiti (1919). Mitra, Khagendranath (ed.). "সমতটের পূর্ব্বে". Sahitya Parishad Patrika (in Bengali). Kolkata: Bangiya Sahitya Parishad. 26 (4): 12. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  7. ^ Singh, A Prafullokumar (2009). Election Politics in Manipur. New Delhi: Mittal Publications. p. 4. ISBN 9788183242790. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  8. ^ Ashim Kumar, Singha (12 November 2002). "History". Manipuri Web Portal. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  9. ^ a b c d "If The Loktak Lake Cries For Us, Why We Are Called The Mayangs?". Bishnupriya Manipuri. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  10. ^ a b Lightfoot, Lousie (11 May 2017). Louise Lightfoot in Search of India: An Australian Dancer's Experience. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. ISBN 9781443892582. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  11. ^ a b Bhattacharjee, Shubho Shekhar (2 July 2018). "Born to Unbelong in India and That's the Way I Like It". The Quint. Retrieved 19 October 2019.