Manipur has been identifying itself to the world through its rich art and culture. Manipuri classical dance is world famous and it is very distinct from other Indian dance forms.
Culture & Heritage
The Ras Lila, the epitome of Manipur classical dance is based on the spiritual and eternal love of Radha and Krishna. This dance enacts their sublime and transcendental love and the selfless devotion of the milkmaids of Vrindavan to the Lord. It is performed in the mandap in front of the temple throughout the night and witnessed with great devotion. Ras performances are mainly of four types-Vasanta Ras, Kunja Ras, Maha Ras and Nata/Nitya Ras. At the temple of Shri Shri Govinda. Vasanta Ras is performed on the full-moon night of Hiyangei (November). After they are performed at the temple of Shri Shri Govinda, they are performed at any time of the year. Maha Ras is based on Tenth Book of the Bhagavata and Vasanta Ras on Geet Govinda of Jayadeva. A fifth type called Diva Ras is occasionally met with Ras Lila is a combination of solo, duet and grace. The richness of costumes gives lustre to the beauty of the art.
Pung is a kind of Manipur drum. Khuyoi Tompok who ruled over Manipur during (154-264 A.D) introduced the pung having only one beating face. Since then, it has developed to the present form of ‘Meitei Pung with two beating faces. This pung has become a part and parcel of Nata Sankirtan which is an important part of Manipuri culture. Today, ’Pung Cholom’ which is a traditional dance form of the pung drummers has earned international acclamation for its charming artistic display.
It is a musical narration of the Battle of Khongjom fought between the Manipuris and the British in April 1891.Dhobi Leinou started singing Khongjom Parva by thumping his hands on the knee and some times used an empty tin to thump upon. The Khongjom Parva narrators glorify the Manipuris soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the sake of their motherland. Today the theme of singing Khongjom Parva includes the stories of Khamba and Thoibi, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the exploits of the kings of Manipur. The singer uses only a Dholok while singing.
Pena is a stringed musical instrument of Manipur. Its origin may be traced back to a hoary past. It is called Bena in Parts of Assam. It is made up of two parts viz the penamasa and pena cheijing. Earlier, Pena was usually played by its player to invoke the gods and goddesses. But today, this musical instrument is played in musical concerts and other performances also.
It is an indigenous art form of telling stories prevalent in the State since the 17th century. The Mahabharata, and the Ramayan are the themes of such story telling. Manipuri folk song is known as ‘Khulang Ishei’. It is popular for its thematic and romantic contents. The folk songs are commonly sung by the rural folk and hill men at the time of harvesting, collecting firewood, hunting and fishing.