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Nanao publisher plans folk rhyme tome

Children perform during the launch of Nanao. File picture

Imphal, Jan. 10: Encouraged by the success of Nanao, a book on game songs and lullabies of Meiteis, Nelson Elangbam, an Imphal-based event organiser, is now planning to collect such folk rhymes of other communities, including the Nagas.

Nanao (Younger), a collection of 13 Meitei traditional game songs and lullabies, was published on December 1 last year. Edited by B. Jayantakumar Sharma, a renowned lyricist in Manipur and published by the Northeast Brothers Entertainments Private Ltd, an event management group, the book recorded some of the folk rhymes and lullabies of the Meitei community for the first time.

After its release, 900 copies were sold out in a month out of a total of 1,000 copies in the first edition. Publishers in Imphal said this was a record sale. A newly released book sells at the most 10-20 copies in Manipur these days, according to some publishers. The book is accompanied by an audio CD featuring the songs, which are linked to the culture and way of life of the Meiteis.

“The book has just some of the numerous indigenous game songs and lullabies. They have survived through generations orally. Nanao is an attempt to preserve them,” Sharma said. He said there were more than 50 such indigenous game songs and lullabies.

Elangbam, director of the Northeast Brothers Entertainments Private Ltd, said there was an interesting story behind the book. “My son Henthoiba could sing English nursery rhymes like Ba Ba Black Sheep, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Johnny Johnny Yes Papa, when he was one-and-half years. One day, he wanted to sing Meitei rhymes. I tried one but it was not much of a success. Since then, I started dreaming of bringing out a book of Meitei rhymes for the new generation,” he said.

The idea for the book materialised in January last year, while Elangbam was working in a private publishing house in Mumbai.

Elangbam has now involved well-known Tangkhul folk singer Guru Rewben Mashangva for the collection and publication of Tangkhul traditional game songs for the second edition. “There are more than 30 different communities in Manipur and they all have game songs and lullabies. I am thinking of bringing out a book each for all the communities,” he said.

The book has been a big hit among its readers. “We used to sing these songs while playing in our childhood. We have forgotten them now. Elangbam and his team have done an excellent job to collect them in a book. I have bought one copy for my children. This book should be prescribed for pre-school children,” A. Ningthou, a 55-year-old government employee from Imphal West, said.

Elangbam said he was planning to come out with an animated version of Nanao very soon.


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