Manipuri (Indian Classical Dance from Manipur)
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About Manipuri Dance
Manipuri is known and respected as one of the major Indian Classical dance forms, especially famous and popular for themes based on majestic execution of Ras Lila, dance drama depicting the love between Krishna and Radha, and Vaishnavism.
What are the various themes depicted by Manipuri?
Besides Ras Lila and Vaishnavism, Manipuri is also based on myriad themes including Shaivism, Shaktism and on the silver-clad deities named Umang Lai during the festivals of Manipur- Lal Haraoba.
This particular dance style is named after Manipur, India’s north-eastern state, but its roots can be traced from the ancient Natya Shastra, the traditional Sanskrit Hindu text. A blend of Southeast Asian culture and Indian culture is evident in this dance form.
The time-worn dance tradition is taken from the great epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana, where the ancient Manipur dance experts are coined as Gandharvas.
The Manipuris perform this holy art and believe in aiming at depicting spiritual values during various cultural occasions; marriage for instance and Hindu festivals.
The main plays and repertoire of this dance style centers around myriad seasons. The age-old style of this dance form showcases lyrical, gentle and graceful movements.
The Manipur dances are performed during the autumn-August to November, and once during the full moon nights of spring.
While Vasant Ras is performed during the Holi, other dance forms are scheduled around the Diwali time, during the post-harvest season.
Themes and songs are mainly symbolic of the eternal love between Krishna and Radha in the company of the Gopis namely Lalita, Visakha, Chitra, Champaklata, Tungavidya, Sudevi, Rangadevi, and Indurekha.
The costumes worn by the female performers are quite unique in their style. The male dancers, however, wear a dhoti, in bright vivid color, referred to as dhotra or dhora.
A peacock feather adorned crown is placed on the dancer’s head. The costumes of the female dancers, however, are similar to that of the dress worn by a Manipuri woman at her wedding, known as Potloi costumes. The jewelry is basically made of flowers and adorns the neck, wrist, hands, and ears.