Session description for Nanao interview

Session description for Nanao interview
Interview with Ima Nanao Bundle filenames • Media files NupAmaibi_Ameilon_28122016_interview_Nanao_639-3.MP4 NupAmaibi_Ameilon_28122017_INF_CONS_Nanao_639-3.MP4 • Elan file Nanao_Interview.eaf • Pdf file NupAmaibi_Ameilon_28122016_interview_Nanao_639-3.pdf Basic metadata Date of recording: 28th December, 2016 Location: Khurai, East Imphal (Santa’s house) Participants: Nanao Amaibi, Rohit Others present: Karen, Jodha Description: The interview with Ima Nanao is a very long (1 hour) and rich account of many aspect of Amaibi culture, as well as a generously detailed account of her life. As a young priestess (19 years at the time of recording), Ima Nanao has been a priestess for around 7 years, and so her experience nicely compliments the account given by senior priestess Ima Bobby, who at the time of recording had been a practicing Amaibi for almost 40 years. The contemporary cultural context of modern Manipur is therefore on display in Ima Nanao’s interview. Whereas in Ima Bobby’s youth there were no visibility of non-shamanic gender-diversity (i.e., ‘transgender’), for Ima Nanao, growing up in the 1990s, she has seen the introduction of borrowed Western slurs like ‘homo’, which although a fairly mild and ambiguous term in the Western world, is considered a deeply offensive insut in Manipur. The impression one gets from Ima Nanao’s interview is that as a young Amaibi in the modern age, she has already struggled greatly with homophobia and transphobia, and continues to struggle. There are parallels with Western experiences of transphobia, in that she has experienced public mockery and violence, whereas in Bobby’s youth (roughly the 1970s) Manipur was more or less a ‘closed’ state and the Amaibis had a degree of cultural respect which has somewhat eroded since then. There is a very precise description in this interview of the way in which the deity invoked enters the body of the priestess. Nanao explains in detail how the goddess enters the body of the priestess and take position on their tongue; then the sacred words are issued from the tongue and the deity moves down to the navel area of the priestess’ body. The content of Nanao’s interview also contains actual ritual song and an authentic invocation of goddess deities in the Amailon language. There is a small degree of interaction in the interview with Rohit, a novice priestess who is learning from Nanao. The interview was a challenge to translate because of the high amount of informal usages used by both Ima Nanao and the assistant for this interview, Jodha. Grammatical particles and lexical forms are used which do not seem to be recorded in extant works on Meitei such as Chelliah 1997. It could be an interesting source for a pragmatic study of Meitei at a later date. A list of questions was devised by the investigator in collaboration with close friend and native guide Santa Khurai, and these were the basis of the structure of the interview with Ima Nanao. The questions asked of Nanao (including the informed consent statement) are reproduced below: 28/12/16 Informed consent statement. 1. My name is Karen Parker. I am visiting Manipur to study the Nupa Amaibi language and culture. I am from La Trobe University in Melbourne Australia, with the support of the University of London, England. 2. I thank you very much for coming to meet me and with your consent, I would like to ask you about the Nupa Amaibi language and culture, and about life in general for Nupa Amaibi and Nupi Maanbi in Manipur. 3. I will be recording with this video camera and this sound recorder. Please tell me if at any time you want to stop for a rest or if you are uncomfortable. We can stop at any time. Are you happy and ready to continue? 4. Ok, it is Thursday, 28th December, 2016. We are at Santa Khurai’s brother’s house in Khurai district, Imphal. Present are myself, Santa’s brother Joda, and two Nupa Amaibi, Nanao and Rohit 5. We can please talk one at a time. Who would like to go first? 6. Could you first tell your name and age please? 7. Ok now I will ask some questions about Nupa Amaibi. Please take as long as you want for each question, and remember we can stop at any time. Questions 1. Can you say any words, phrases and prayers in the Amaibi language? 2. Can you tell the creation story of how Nupa Amaibi began? 3. Can you say the words and sentences that you use when communicating with God? 4. Which deities do you worship? The Goddesses Pantoibi or Laishna or both, and/or others? 5. Can you talk about the magical rituals of Nupa Amaibi such as fortune telling, exorcism, healing rituals? 6. Are there any special words and phrases used in the magical rituals? Do you use regular Manipuri language in those rituals or a special language? 7. Is the language you use the same as the language used by other Amaibi? 8. Do you belong to the Furah, Sangleng or Nongmai type of Amaibi? 9. What kind of food do you prefer, and are there any foods you do not or cannot eat? 10. How do you become Nupa Amaibi, and at what age did you become Amaibi? 11. How did you realize that you are Nupa Amaibi? 12. How did you learn the Amaibi language? Does guru help? 13. Apart from in communicating with God, do you use the modern Manipuri language when you do rituals? 14. How do the wider society feel about Nupa Amaibi? How do they react when they see you in public? Is there much discrimination? 15. Do you get called bad names in public which make you feel uncomfortable? 16. How do the Nupi Amaibi regard the Nupa Amaibi? Do they feel positive or negative, or have different opinions? 17. What opportunities are available for doing the rituals? Have you ever been prevented from doing the rituals? Are the opportunities more available for Nupi Amaibi than Nupa Amaibi? 18. Could you talk about how you feel about Nupa Amabi, and its importance in the indigenous culture? 19. How do you feel about this project to preserve the language, culture and history of Nupa Amaibi? 20. In your experience, could you suggest approximately how many Nupa Amaibi existed before compared to now? And if the population is fewer, do you have any explanation for this? 21. Is there anything you think is important that I have not asked you about?
Date created:
Rohit (consultant), Nanao (consultant), Jhoda (consultant)
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