Sangai Festival 2014

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In September 2013 met someone from Silchar who told me about the Sangai Festival. So reached Imphal to see for myself. Festival is held from 21-30th November every year. Flight was Mumbai to Kolkata to Imphal. Reached by about 1 pm. It was the start of North-East Yatra ie Manipur, Kohima, Meghalya, Mizoram and Tripura. This is BOAT where the Sangai Festival is held.

U see visiting dignatory from Myanmar addressing the audience. Extreme right is CM of Manipur, Okram Ibobi Singh. Captions are written based on info gathered during festival and various sites.In case of any error please mail giving photo nos and correct caption. Program compere too gave me print outs of what he spoke. Thanks to all.

Opening ceremony is about life and working in Manipur at a glance. Everyone laughed when this person rode on cycle. Please help with story.

U see the most important festival of Manipur called LAI HAROBA, has its origin in pre-Vaishnavite period. This is a rigidly observed ritual that begins towards the end of the year into the new year ie March-April. "Celebrated in honor of the sylvan deities known as Umang Lai, the festival represents the worship of traditional deities and ancestors. The principal performers are Maibas and Maibis (priests and priestesses) who re-enact the theme of the creation of the world.With the arrival of Vaishnavism in the 15th century A.D., new compositions based on episodes from the life of Radha and Krishna were gradually introduced." PENA, a stringed instrument isused in this festival.

Dance called PUNG CHOLOM. Performed in every traditional religious ceremony. Manipuri classical drum is called PUNG. On left of pic what artist are holding in their hands brass bit is called MANDILA.

VASANTA RAAS. Lower dress worn ladies is POTLOI, made of carbon paper covered with saturn cloth and hand embroidery. It is worn by Meithi brides during wedding. "This is one of the most beautiful Raas Leelas, is celebrated on Chaitra Purnima, the full moon night in the month of Chaitra. (April - May). The dance depicts the eternal love of Radha and Krishna. The richness of the costumes worn by the performers adds grandeur to this dance. It ends with an ''Aarti'', a ceremonial worship of the Holy Union."This dance depicts the yearning of the Gopis for communion with their beloved Shri Krishna. In this raas Shri Krishna goes to the appointed grove (Kunja). The gopis led by Radha respond to the call of His magical flute. Together they play Holi. Finally there is union-Milan-Sambhoga.

CM and visiting dignitaries from Myanmar at the end of festivities on opening day of Sangai Festival. Events at BOAT start about 4.30 pm. During the day there were events in other parts of Imphal etc say indigenous games, trekking, polo, wind surging, water skiing, cross country mountain bike competition. Collection has about 120 pics so presented in two parts.

Day 2. Most basic, original and traditional form of Manipuri dance. Thoubal Jagoi - Centre for Social and Cultural Development Manipur. "In this dance, men and women worshippers present themselves before the deity, for an auspicious beginning to the ritualistic duties of the day. Towards the end of this dance a tug-of-war between men and women is enacted" see next pic.

Final part of dance - Tug of War. Females win. It is not possible to present all pics of each dance so taken select pics and tried to cover every tribe that performed. In case have missed out any performance apologies.

This is THANG-CHUNGOI YANNABA (duel fighting of sword and shield). This is an art of fighting of 2 warriors with sword and shield. The State has a rich martial art tradition which Manipuris are proud of. To see pics of Indigenous Games of Manipur Click here

Person u see covered his eyes with black cloth, before that covered eyes with dust cuts. In the centre is man with cucumber on his stomach, four corners are girls with cucumbers in their hands.This brave man picks up sword and slices the cucumber one by one. See next pic.

U can see pieces of cucumber on the floor. Must have practiced for hours to do this so effortlessly. This is called THABI KAKPA (cucumber cutting).

Lhou Sha Dance- Maring Tribe. The music that accompanies the dance had me pepped up, loved it. It is a performed after victory in battle or fight. "The Lhou Sha is a war dance performed at every confrontation between two villages. The dance form has been preserved as part of the tradition of the Maring community of Manipur and marks the conclusion of significant festivals. The dance, which was initially performed by men only, has evolved into a folk art, including the tribe’s womenfolk in its ambit."

PUNG CHOLOM-Thoubal District Art and Culture Development Association. Beating of drums in different forms. Every group that performed brought something unique to see. "The Pung Cholom or Drum Dance is a visual interpretation of the various rhythmic patterns played on the pung. In this dance, the drummer identifies completely with the intricate rhythms he plays on the drum and expresses it through corresponding body movements and footwork."

When performance starts they wear turbans. During performance it falls off. Then a few sit in the centre and the others jump in the air like u see. To read about Dances of Manipur Click here

Part of the performance. "The Kirtan form of congregational singing accompanies the dance which is known as Sankirtana in Manipur. The male dancers play the Pung and Kartal while dancing. The masculine aspect of dance - the Choloms are a part of the Sankirtana tradition. The Pung and Kartal choloms are performed at all social and religious festivals." The pung or Manipuri mridanga (drum) is the soul of Manipuri music. It is a cylindrical drum made out of wood and leather.

RAAS LEELA. "Krishna wears a yellow dhoti, a dark velvet jacket and a crown of peacock feathers. The jewellery is very delicate and the designs are unique to the region". Performance by Government Dance College. "There are 5 principal Ras dances of which 4 are linked with specific seasons, while the fifth can be presented at any time of the year. In Manipuri Ras, the main characters are Radha, Krishna and the gopis.". To know about Manipuri Dance and Music Click here

"The themes often depict the pangs of separation of the gopis and Radha from Krishna. The parengs or pure dance sequences performed in the Rasleela dances follow the specific rhythmic patterns and body movements, which are traditionally handed down. TheRas costume consists of a richly embroidered stiff skirt which extends to the feet."

U see Krishna with Gopis at end of performance. Lower garment of Gopis is called POTLOI as stated earlier. Top garment is KOKTUMBI. Imphal has good hotels. Hotel Nirmala 0385 2459014,2458904,Click here. Anand Continental 0385 2449422/23,Click hereNext to Anand is Apollo Hotel, both these are run by Punjabis u will get North Indian food.A 10 minute walk, close to Ima Market is a Marwari Thali place on 1st floor and fast food rest below where u get dhokla, dosa, puris, milk shakes very good stuff. These hotels cost between Rs 1300-2000/ a day for double rooms. For 4 star try CLASSIC Group hotels.

Zeliangrong group of Naga tribes. I think it is KABUI tribe - community dance. To know about Tribes of Manipur Click here

Lhou Sha Dance- Maring Tribe. Pic 13 had earlier description. To add to that dance derived from an indigenous game of war ie shon-la. When a Lhouba won his enemy he would jump in the form of dance. He used Maring traditional shield (chung) and dagger (laanglashon) which were used in war. Also used bow and arrow to attack rival.

Gurkha Dance. To read about Festivals of Manipur Click here

Bamboo Dance - Thadou Kuki dance. Every group performances bamboo dance in different ways. Here two boys at each corner with three girls in the centre.

Maram tribe belonging to Naga group - their cultural dance.

Maring tribe. Holding gun part of their culture. Gun was required to protect people during harvesting or attack by any other tribe.

Gostha Leela-Raang Tarang Mandal. This dance is associated with Shri Krishna''s childhood episode and tending cattle. It has become a very popular form of religious expression and entertainment. It enacts Krishna''s childhood - how he tended to cattle and played with his cowherd companions in fields in evening sunlight.

Artist in green lower garment is Balaram and right is brother Krishna. Others are cowherds. Merrymaking of boys is well depicted and details of Shri Krishna''s play with cowherds is fully described in Sri Bhagavat.

Krishna, brother Balaram and cowherds. "Raas Leela was initially visualised by Maharaja Jay Singh in AD 1700. Every Manipuri dance based on the theme of Lord Krishna’s life, reveals as it progresses, the supreme love of the Lord for mortals."

Next was Fusion Music by Rhythms of Manipur. Never knew Manipur was such a store house of talent. See their performance in Singapore Click here

It was time for man on the drums to keep us enthralled. If you want to contact them call Sanatomba Singh, Secretary, 8974005015. Their site is Click here

Old traditional story. King and Queen have 2 sons, weaker one is EBUDHOU PAKHANGBA and other is LAINING THOU SANAMAHI. Story of how 2 brothers became God. Parents said will give throne to any son who tours world seven times and returns first.

MEIBI Dance. "Despite the prevalence of Vaishnavite faith, every part of Manipur has a guardian deity, who still commands the devotion of the state’s denizens. Through this dance, the maibis invoke the deities and exhort them to bless the entire community. Depicting the creation and evolution of life, the dance is an ultimate offering to the guardian deities."

Outside BOAT where performances take place is a huge garden. On left of pic are stalls selling Manipuri textiles, wood items, cane items and Thais selling their products etc. On right are food stalls. For veggies like me got noodles, friend rice and bhajiya (very good). For non veggies it was a treat.

Start of day 4. First item was Cultural performances by artists from Tamenglong district. The challenge here is who can hang on the horn of a mithun (local equivalent of a buffalo.) at the highest level. Person who goes up to maximum height is champion. A young man also tried to do pull ups, crowd cheered.

KAHMAI PHUNGBO or carrying of paddle/shuk. A Kahmai will be carried by the person on his back with his leg entwined on the Kahmai without touching the ground and crawl on the ground only using his hands. When there was more than 2 khangchiukys in the village, competitions involving these games were contended among the members.

Dance by another tribe from Tamenglong district. Do not remember name, so showcasing their dance. Carefully observe their garments.

Dance by another tribe from Tamenglong district. Do not remember name, so showcasing their dance. Carefully observe their garments.

Performance by Kabui tribe. "During the Gang-Ngai festival, the Kabuis perform a series of dances in different stylized forms, accompanied by the sound of heavy drums and high-pitched songs. The boys wield sharp weapons (daos) in their hands and move around in circles along with girls dressed in traditional costumes. "

This is probably Hmar tribe of Chin-Kuki group of tribes. Again notice their clothes as they enter stage for performance. To see pics of Loktak Lake Moirang Click here

Performance by Kabui tribe. "During the Gang-Ngai festival, the Kabuis perform a series of dances in different stylized forms, accompanied by the sound of heavy drums and high-pitched songs. The boys wield sharp weapons (daos) in their hands and move around in circles along with girls dressed in traditional costumes. "Please correct me if caption wrong. To see pics of Kangla Fort Imphal Click here

Please let me know which tribe ka dance this is.

Dance performance by Prativa, Kalahandi, Orissa. "Prativa is engaged in research, workshop and training on tribal dance and music of Kalahandi district. We were stirred with their high voltage dancing and interaction between pairs with the men sporting painted decorations on their loin cloth clad bodies, wearing bead necklaces and nose rings, their hair blowing wild with their frenetic movements while the dainty girls were in bright yellow costumes. The drums used in this item had two bunches of peacock feathers adorning them.''This dance is called BAJASALIA.

Start to Cultural show by artists of Prativa, Bhawanipura, Kalahandi, Orissa. Amazing and enjoyable performance. To read more about their performance, Odissa music Click here

This dance is called BAJASALIA. Kalahandi is endowed with many folk dances like Ghumura, Bajasalia and Dhap. Here BAJA means instrument used in the dance and SAL means the place where these instruments are played. Before marriage function many small pre-marriage functions are held acc to traditions. Instrumentalists get together and play in these functions. This is called Bajabasa.

After these functons marriage held. When bride and groom enter the house energetic youths come in contact with instrumentalists with a great desire and perform their dance. This is called Bajasalia ie what you see. They have performed in Delhi etc. Their contacts 91 9437140676, 9437326835 and 06670 231867, Click here

Wish had taken a close up of pic of their jewellery. This dance expresses the love, attraction, desire towards Dhangra (Young Boy), Dhangri (Young Girl) which enhance the beauty of the dance. Found everyone so involved in the dance that they seem to forget everything else.

Bamboo dance by Kuki tribe. Here u see 2 persons in front and 1 on each side unlike another dance where there were 3 in front. It is very cold in Manipur during festival time esp since goes on from 5 to about 9.30 pm. Go well prepared.

This is Chakpa Thougal Jagoi - Sanchali, A Centre for Performing Arts. There are different types of Lai-Haraoba festivals in Manipur, vary according to local traditions. This Chakpa dance is performed by women. It is a composition of both Chakmang Jagoi and Laibou Jagoi, the two deities of Chakpa Haraoba Dance;

This is start of Nata Sankirtana (Nupi Pala) - Shri Shri Radha Govindo Seva Dol. Manipuri Rassa Leela was conceived and executed during the reign of Rajashri Bhagyachandra (1763-1789) and was established with the worship of Shri Shri Govindajee.

Very graceful. "Manipuri dance incorporates both the tandava and lasya and ranges from the most vigorous masculine to the subdued and graceful feminine. Generally known for its lyrical and graceful movements, Manipuri dance has an elusive quality. In keeping with the subtleness of the style, Manipuri abhinaya does not play up the mukhabhinaya very much - the facial expressions are natural and not exaggerated-sarvangabhinaya, or the use of the whole body to convey a certain rasa, is its forte."

A bit of action. "The rhythmic complexities are usually overlooked as the dancers do not wear ankle bells to stamp out the rhythms in a theatrical display, as this interferes with the delicate body movements. However, Manipuri dance and music has a highly evolved tala system."

PUNG CHOLOM by Children - Shree Shree Govindaji Nat Sankirtan. I love Pung Cholom but watching young boys perform was another experience. See one foot being in the air.

Each performance must take hours of practice. Manipuri Raasa Leela is divided acc to season and time of the year ie Maha Raasa at Kartika Purnima, Kunja Raasa at Ashwin Purnima, Basanta Raasa at Chaitra Purnma, Kunja Raasa at Ashwin Purnima, Basanta Raasa at Chaitra Purnima.

The last 3 boys on right look really young. The Basanta Raasa, eternal love story of Radha and Krishna forms the theme of the beautiful lyrical classical dances of Manipur.

During performance a group sits in the centre and others fly in the air performing. Wow sight.

A very graceful dance by ladies from Orissa. I think this is the Dalkhai Dance, is the one the famous folk traditional dances of Orissa. Dalkhai was a tribal goddess of Kalahandi people . This dance is performed by unmarried girls on the occassion of dalkhai goddess prayer.

Wish had taken a close up of their jewellery. Day 4 ended with a Fashion Show. To see pics of Handlooms of Manipur Click here

Day 5 had Cultural performances by artists from Churachandpur district. Just showing pics, do not know details of each performance. To see pics of Khajuraho Dance Festival Click here

This Bamboo dance has 4 persons on each side unlike another where had 2 persons in the centre. To see pics of Jaisalmer Desert Festival Click here

Performance by another group. To see pics of day 5 to 10 see Sangai Festival 2014 part 2 To see pics of Hampi Festival Click here

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