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Folk Dances of India

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Folk Dances of Manipur

Pung Cholom Dance

Pung Cholom:
Pung Cholom is also known as Mrindanga Kirtan or Dhumal or Dram dance. This dance is performed with a drum, Mrindanga. This dance performed by only males either as integral parts of Nata Sankirtan or independently in front of social gathering.

When it is a part of Nata, two players participate in its performance, but as an independent dance performance at least 14 players follow the sequence of Nata Sankirtan. In this series with more than 40 complicated talas and sanchars that represents particular compositions of rhythms are presented.

The general rules that are organized for its performance make it a distinct type. These are related with religious festivals of the Hindus. The number of players may increase at times up to 100. The performance is full of various types of body movements that are executed with great artistic skills and excitement. Sometimes, Mrindanda creates the sounds of thunder, voice of birds and animals. The movements at initial stage are soft, but later on become momentous and vigorous. This adds in its characteristics. The performers wear a special type of turban, which they drop by their flicking of heads and with their movements. These turban mostly of light coloured.

This art form is full of stylish movements and ritualistic in nature. Lot of practice is required before the actual performance is done. It is advised that right from the teenage one must start working in this direction. The aspirant candidates must engage his worship for decades before he can claim for recognition.

In short, Pung Cholom is folk art form with a combination of sound and movement. The movements sometimes demands acrobatics abilities & stamina. The dancers themselves play the Mridanga (Pung) while executing the performance in front of the audience. It contains a modulation in sound used while addressing that ranges from soft whisper to a thunderous climax. There is a wonderful blending of the interplay of intricate rhythms and cross rhythms used with varying time from the slow to the quick. The whole performance is characterized with graceful and vigorous body movements that lead to make it a unique.

Khamba Thaibi Dance

Khamba Thaibi Dance:
Khamba Thaibi dance is widely performed in Manipur. It is a popular art form. Generally, it is performed either as part of Laihaoraoba or as an independent performance. For performing this dance, man candidates pick up their partners at dance arena. Girls become ready with colorful dress-up with flowers in their hands.

Khamba Thaibi dance is a duet performance describing the story of a poor and brave lad of the Khuman Clan of Khamba. The boy fell in love with a girl, Thaibi. She was a princess of Moirang. Both keenly love each other. They succeeded in forming a love affair. But for that, many heroic deeds on the part of Khamba were done and the troubles were taken by Thaibi. The King, the father of Thaibi did every possible to defy her will. They performed a dance in front of the god Thangjing, after which they came to known as the incarnation of Shiva and Parvati. This was perhaps a best complement for a couple, such belief rooted in mind of people through this dance.

Khamba Thaibi dance, a duet of male and female partners to show a dedication to the sylvan deity known as Thangjing of Moirang. It is a form of the dance that depicts a performance by Khamba and Thaibi, the hero and heroine of the Moirang episode. This dance with the "Maibi" also termed as Priestess dance & the "Leima Jagoi" etc. form the "Laiharaoba" dance, Popular as festival dance.

The "Laiharaoba" dance is treated as an excellent example of the modern Manipuri dance form. This dance is a part and parcel of Moirang Lai-Haraoba.This dance was performed before the Lord Thangjing, which was a celebrated deity of Moirang. The village is in the Southwest of Manipur & rich in its rich cultural traditions, for peace and prosperity. This is a ceremonial dance.

Rasa Leela Dance

Rasa Leela:
The Rasa Leela is the famous dance of Manipuri culture invoking deep feelings of people. The dance illustrates an eternal love of Radha and Krishna as been described in the Hindu scriptures & puranas. Also reveals the sublime love of Lord Krishna and Radha including the devotion of Gopies towards the Lord.

In its actual meaning, Manipuri Rasa Leela specially depicts the connection of the individual soul with the spirit of the Supreme Being, if true faith is developed. The Gopikas represent individual souls confined to mundane responsibilities. The Godhead, represents by lord Krishna, is projected through the call of his enchanting flute.

With an eternal bond of love, they sneak out of their existence of human body but get united with each other with the soul. Therefore, it is a representation of projection of an interconnection of the human souls with the Supreme Being. In actual dance performance, the eye catching stylish movements and graceful gestures can be seen. During performance, these movements are controlled very much, that it acquires a touch of spiritual force.

Many steps or dancing style differs according to place but central theme & graphic precision for dance remain same. That is derived from local rituals that are believed to influence the well being of the locality of performance. These are among the rare art forms of India.

It is said that there are five different form of Manipur Rasa Leela, such as:
(i) Maha Rasa performed during kartik Purnima celebrated in the month of October (ii) Kunja Rasa performed during Ashvin Purnima celebrated in the month of December (iii) Basanta Rasa performed during Chaitena Purnima celebrated in the month of March (iv) Diva Rasa, which is performed during daytime (v) Nitya Rasa performed without any restriction of time, as to the season of the year.

The performance of Rasa Leela is carried out in an enclosure in front of the temple called as Nat mandapa & the performance lasts for the whole night. Viewers see it with a deep sense of devotion. Rasa performances are seasonal and varied. Some are even performed at the temple of Shree Govindajee in Imphal at night on occasion of Basanta Purnima, Sarada Purnima and Kartik Purnima and at local temples afterwards.

The composition of dance is a combination of solo, duet and group performance depending upon time of performance. This is highly stylized form of dance with the richness of the costumes similarly gives luster to the beauty of the art & culture.

Maibi Dance

Maibi Dance:
Maibi Dance is performed during the celebration of festival Lai-Haraoba.This is an annual ritual festival of the Meitei Manipuris living in the valley of Manipur. The Maibis are the priestesses considered as spiritual mediums as per the local people. This feeling can be traced through their dances & the whole concept of cosmogony of the Meitei people and their way of life get described.

At the beginning of dance, description about the process of creation is given. Through which they show the construction of houses & temples and various occupations of the people adopted to sustain them with time. In short, it is a kind of re-living of the way of life lived the past.

The Maibi people perform such items on ceremonies for the God or on festivals at the bank of a river. Summoning Gods spirit in an earthen pot tied with nine threads and seven threads for God and Goddesses, dance begins. At a time of dance, the Maibis hold the leaves of sacred plant called Langthrei between fingers.

Nupa Dance

Nupa Dance:
Nupa dance or Nupa Pala which is also known as Kartal Cholom or Cymbal Dance. This dance represents the characteristic of the Manipuri style of dance and music.

The movements involved in this dance are soft, gentle and serene at the time of initial stage gradually gathers momentum in it. It is a group performance of male partners only. They also use cymbals and wear snow-white ball-shaped large turbans on head. Generally, the Nupa Pala acts as a prologue or introductory dance to the Rasa Leela dances. Besides an independent performance too or in connection with religious rites, it is also performed. The performers wear white Pheijom (Dhoti) & white turban. They sing and dance to the rhythm of Pung i.e.Mridanga.

Some even coins a term Nupi Pala with this dance. Nupi Pala is a term that counterpart to Nupa dance. That means it is a kind of Kirtan performed by female in sitting position with mandira`s i.e.small cymbals in hand.

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