Aimol is one of the recognized tribes of Manipur (29th October, 1956 vide notification no. 2477, under Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India). As per Population census 2001, Aimol has a total population of 2,643 and is considered to be a critically endangered language by UNESCO. The Aimols are mainly found in Chandel, Churachandpur, and Senapati districts of Manipur. They inhabit 15 villages (11 in Chandel district, 2 in Churachandpur district and 2 in Senapati district).
According to a myth, there once lived a man named Khoichungtepa. One night in his dream, he saw a meiwar “a fire like lightening” growing like a plant in the centre of his courtyard. He uprooted the fire plant and planted it in another place. He cared and nourished the plant by pouring jutui “wine”. The plant grew to become doi-ai “a magic power”. Thus, Khoichungtepa possessed this doi-ai and he used it to cure different kinds of sicknesses in the locality. He was also able to predict the future. Many people of the area came with their problems and the locality became very popular. As a result, the place came to be known as muolhui “comfortable place”. So the term Aimol is derived from the combination of the two words- doi-ai “magic power” and muolhui “comfortable place”.
Aimol is one of the Tibeto-Burman languages spoken in Manipur. The language has close affinities with other Kuki-Chin languages like Hmar, Hrangkawl, Simte, Sukte, Malsom, Darlong, Lushai, Thadou-Kuki, Kom, Koireng, Purum, Chothe, Chiru and Kharam. Aimols use Manipuri or Meeteilon for communication with other tribes.
Religion and Occupation
The Aimols followed animism till the early part of the 20th century and believed in many deities and spirits. As part of the worshipping of these deities and spirits, they celebrated six important festivals. However, with the advent of Christianity in the 1920s, all the 15 Aimol villages today follow Christianity and these festivals are no longer observed.
The main occupation is agriculture and other activities include domestication of cows, buffaloes, oxen, pigs, dogs, ducks, hens, etc. Rice is their staple food. Cultivation of paddy is carried out by both sexes while weaving and livestock rearing is another source of income for the Aimol family.
The present work
The present project aims to provide a brief morpho-phonological description of Aimol to bring forth a bilingual Aimol-English dictionary as a follow-on.