IMPHAL: Dr. Najma Heptulla, Governor of Manipur, was presented with a copy of MK Binodini Devi’s “The Princess and the Political Agent” by translator L. Somi Roy at the Raj Bhavan today.
The occasion was particularly significant as the historic building was constructed by Col. Henry St. P. Maxwell, the eponymous Political Agent of the historical novel, as the British Residency. He and his consort Princess Sanatombi, the daughter of Maharaja Surchandra – and the heroine of the Sahitya Akademi winning “Boro Saheb Ongbi Sanatombi” the original Manipuri novel – were the first residents of what is today the Raj Bhavan of Manipur. Maharani Haobam Anamika of Manipur also attended with Crown Prince Maharaj Kumar Jayendrajit and Maharaj Kumari Tamphasana.
Maharani Haobam Anamika and L. Somi Roy also made a family prayer offering of the book to Ibudhou Pakhangba at His shrine in Kangla Fort. The prayer was led by Pena balladeer Mayanglambam Marjing who offered the Pakhangba Sethaba in the presence of the Maharani and retinue. The traditional ritual prayer at Kangla Fort was significant as Ibudhou Pakhangba is the founder of the ruling Ningthouja Dynasty of Manipur. His descendants include the current titular king of Manipur and Rajya Sabha member-elect Maharaja Sanajaoba Leishemba; Princess Sanatombi, the eponymous heroine of “The Princess and the Political Agent” who herself was born and grew up in Kangla Fort; and her niece, the book’s author, Maharaj Kumari Binodini Devi, the daughter of Maharaja Churachand of Manipur.
Also present at the ritual prayer at the Ibudhou Pakhangba Temple were Maharaj Kumar Jayendrajit and Maharaj Kumari Tamphasana, as well as Thoidingjam Lakshmipriya Devi, granddaughter of Maharaja Churachand; Mayanglambam Mangangsana, pena balladeer; Pundit Chanam Hemchandra, archivist and scholar, and Wangam Somorjit, historian – all of whom assisted in the novel’s translation by L. Somi Roy.
“The Princess and the Political Agent” is published by Penguin Random House India and is the first literary work from Northeast India to be included in its distinguished Modern Classics series. It is available on Amazon India in paperback and as a Kindle e-book.