Manipur's Tamilians "Kala Lumyo" : A Unique Community Amidst Rising Tensions

Editor Editor
Friday, August 25, 2023
Manipur's Tamilians "Kala Lumyo" : A Unique Community Amidst Rising Tensions
The Resilient Tamil Community of Moreh: Striving for Identity Amidst Ethnic Turmoil
A Unique Presence Amidst Tensions
As tensions rise and human rights violations plague Manipur, a distinctive community emerges in Moreh, seeking significance within the hill state. Despite their outsider status, these Manipuri Tamilians contribute significantly to trade and community life.

Moreh: A Cultural Confluence
Moreh, a border town of Manipur, boasts a unique blend of commerce and culture. From Meitei Ngari to smoked pork, and idli-dosa to religious sites, it is a testament to the Tamilians' long-standing presence and impact on the town's fabric.

Tamilians' Six-Decade Journey
For nearly six decades, Manipuri Tamilians have made Manipur their home, despite their Tamil Nadu roots. Their population constitutes a third of Moreh's residents, dominating trade connections with Myanmar and creating their own cultural enclaves.

Origin: A Legacy of Trade
With origins dating back to Rangoon's thriving trade scene in the 19th century, Manipuri Tamilians established themselves in Myanmar. Dubbed "Kala Lumyo" due to their dark complexion, they integrated into both sides of the border.

Turmoil and Resilience
The first military coup in Myanmar in 1962, led by General Ne Win, disrupted their flourishing presence. Facing business nationalization, Burmese Tamilians migrated to Manipur and beyond, resulting in today's unique cross-border existence.

Moreh's Trade Transformation
From a Kuki-dominated village to a bustling trade hub, Moreh's evolution showcases the resilience and adaptability of the "Kala Lumyo" community. Their dominance in trade with Myanmar reshaped the town's economic landscape.

Ongoing Ethnic Crisis
As Manipur grapples with an ongoing ethnic crisis, Manipuri Tamilians face complex challenges. Caught between the claims of the Kuki and Meitei communities, their presence becomes a focal point of the state's ethnic dynamics.

Uncertain Fate and Dwindling Numbers
The Tamil population's decline from 17,000 families before insurgency to fewer than 3,000 today underscores the uncertain future of the "Kala Lumyo" community. Their story becomes a reflection of the ever-changing socio-political landscape.

Enduring Resilience and Hope
While uncertainties persist, the Manipuri Tamil community's story stands as a testament to their resilience, adaptability, and unwavering hope in the face of challenges, echoing their commitment to thriving amidst adversity.