Pung Cholom

pung cholom or drum dance is a combination of sound and movement, the later in parts demanding acrobatics

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Pung Cholom ( also known as The Mridanga Dance or Dhumel or Dram dance), is a combination of sound and movement, the later in parts demanding acrobatics abilities. The dancers themselves play the Mridanga(Pung) while executing the performance. In 1850 AD, king Chandra Keerti Singh added some compositions and was instrumental in introducing 64 pung dance or drum dances.

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It is highly refined classical dance number characterized by the modulation of sound from soft whisper to a thunderous climax. There is the interplay of intricate rhythms and cross rhythms with varying markings of time from the slow to the quick with graceful and vigorous body movements leading to ecastic heights.

It is performed either as an integral part of Nat sangkirtan (Pala Kirtana) or independently. As a part of Pala, it performed by two players but as an independent dance at least 14 players follow the sequence of Pala Kirtana with about 40 complicated talas and Sanchars. The rulers patronized and organized 4 distinct types in connection with Hindu religious festivals.

 

Nata Pala

the Pala Kirtana is a group performance of male partners, using cymbals and wearing snow-white ball-shaped large turbans

 

Vaishnava Pala Kirtana using Dhak and Kartal became most popular factor in Manipuri fine arts. The dance is otherwise known as Kartal Cholom or Cymbal Dance is a characteristic of the  Manipuri style of dance and music. The initial movements of this dance are soft and serene , gradually gathering momentum. It is a group performance of male partners, using cymbals and wearing snow white ball-shaped large turbans, who sing and dance to the accompaniment of the ancient classical drum “Dhak”.

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Pala kirtan or Nata Sangkirtan is an invariable item for the life cycle of manipuris and religious festivals. Nothing from birth to death is complete without it. The pala’s under two leaders i.e, Ishalpa (main singer) and Duhar (leader of the choom part) with turbans and Dhuties perform the kirtan. King Jaysingha is said to have initiated the prsenet form of Pala Kirtan style.

 

Khamba Thoibi

Khamba Thoibi dance is a duet of male and female partners, a dance of dedication to the sylvan deity, Thangjing of Moirang , is the depiction of the dance performed by Khamba and Thoibi

Khamba-Thoibi is duet dance which is performed either a part of Lai- Harouba or independently. This dance typically represents the Tandava and Lsya aspects of Laiharouba movements. In the Khamba -Thoibi tells the story of Khamba, a poor brave lad of khumal clan who fell in love with Thoibi, a princess of Morang.In 15th century AD, Khamba, a prince of the previously routed Khumal Royal family fell in love with Thoibi – a princess of the Moirang clan .[Note 2.1] The union have been to the political advantage of both Khumals and Moirangs ; but the moirang chief resisted on purely personal grounds. The result was tragic not only for the young lovers but also for the feuding tribes of Manipur

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. Khamba Thoibi dance is a duet of male and female partners, a dance of dedication to the sylvan deity, Thangjing of Moirang , is the depiction of the dance performed by Khamba and Thoibi, the hero and heroine of the Moirang episode of the hoary past.[Note 2.2] This, with the “Maibi” dance (Priestess dance) , the “Leima Jogoi” etc. form the “Laiharaoba” dance. This dance is a part and parcel of Moirang Lai-Haraoba. It is believed that the legendary hero – Khamba and heroin – Thoibi danced together before the Lord Thangjing, a celebrated deity of Moirang, a village in the South-West of Manipur which is known for its rich cultural traditions, for peace and prosperity of the land.

 

References:

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Khmaba of khumal dynasty can probably be a Bishnupriya and Thoibi of Moirang dynasty can probably be a Meitei – as mentioned in the article A people Besieged by Syed Jainul Akmal Al Mahmood / The daily star Weekend Megazine, Vol-4, Issue-184, Jun 21,2000 Dhaka, Bangladesh, Page -7. This article also states – ” To this days, popular memory of love affair between Khamba and Thoibi. Who knows, if the affair hadn’t ended in tragedy, the course of history might have been altered; perhaps the Bishnupriyas wouldn’t have in exile today.”

 

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W. Yamjao Singh, in his book “An early history of Manipur” says that -“Thus from the earliest time Manipur was a Brahminical kindom and was learned well enough, their fame in astrology reaches as far as the distant part china”(page -23). So, references of ancient Manipur are probably not of the non-Aryan people. The Manipuri community is divided into the following clans such as Khumal, Moirang, Angom, Luwang and Meithei etc.( Ref: Assam District Gazette/ V.C Elen, Religious Development in Manipur in 18th and 19th Century/ Dr. M. Kirti Singha, Descriptive Ethnology of Bengal/ E. T. Dalton), out of which the first four clans are other than the Meithei and belong to Aryan. The Khumals were most powerful and after them The Moirangs whom subdued by the Meitheis and form them into a single people (Ref: Assam District Gazette/ V.C Elen, Part -IX, Chapter -II, Page-11). It can be noted that the descendents of Khumal, Moirang, Angom, Luwang and Mangang clans collectively known as Pancha Bishnupriya in the Bishnupriya Manipuri community,

 

Khubak Ishei

 

During the month of Aashar The Manipuris observe Rath Jatra (Drawing of car of Lord Jagannatha) on the model of Puri festival. According to Manipuri tradition every temple in every place will observe it with great supports of peoples who contributes their mite to its success. It has a 9-day program of devotional music and dances followed by the free distribution of Khichuri’s, a dish made of rice and beans.

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Khubak Ishei and Jaya Deva are the gifts of Rath Jatra in Manipuri culture. The significant events for the daily service during the nine days, apart from the above are listening to sacred texts explained by a specialist in the day , the recitation and singing of Dasa Avtar Slaks and the performance of Khubak Ishei by the male or female artists. Khubak Ishei is a type of Clapping song mainly performed by the female singers with a male drummer. This form was initiated during the reign of King Churachand Singha.They sing the song of Radha’s pang of separation after Krishna left her and the Gopis and went to Mathura on a car to join Kamsa’s Yanja.

Rakhual or Gutha-leela

The “Rakhual”( sometimes called as Gustha-leela ) Dance is a group dance performed by a group of boys, wearing colorful dresses and ornaments.. The theme of the dance that is described in the Mahabharata where Lord Krishna dances with his mates.

 

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 Sri Krishna’s game. association with the pastoral boys, Yosoda‘s love for her son, The coming of sage Narada to the palace of Nanda and teaching Krishna and Balaram how to milch and graze the cattle are invariably shown. Then the Gopas go to tending cattle with the permission of their parents. When the start playing , two demons come to kill Krishna and Balaram by the order Of Kamsa. The Roles of Nanda, Yosoda, Rohini, Narada and his disciples are performed by the elderly people. This form celebrates the Krishna story through dance that is obviously derived from the older forms, but is more stylized, and altered considerably by the wearing colorful dresses like Feichooms or Dhutis, Churas, koknaams, leitrengs and khobols .This highly stylised form of Dancing has sublimity, subtlety and grace.

Rasa Leela

The Ras Lila, the epitome of Manipuri classical dance is inter-woven through the celestial and eternal love of Radha and Krishna as has been described in the Hindu scriptures and reveals the sublime and transcendental love of Krishna and Radha…

It is said that when Krishna, Radha and the Gopies danced the Ras Leela, Shiva made sure that no one disturbed the beauty of the dancing. Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva also wished to see this dance, so to please her, he chose the beautiful area of Manipur and re-enacted the Ras Leela. Maharaja Bhagya Chandra Singha – King of Manipur introduced the “Manipuri Maha Rasleela ” in the Manipur valley during his reign. It ushered in a new era in the development of this style. The Ras Lila, the epitome of Manipuri classical dance is inter-woven through the celestial and eternal love of Radha.

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and Krishna as has been described in the Hindu scriptures and reveals the sublime and transcendental love of Krishna and Radha and the Gopies ‘s devotion to the Lord. It is generally performed in an enclosure in front of the temple throughout the night and watched with a deep sense of devotion.

While there is ‘bhava’ (emotion) of Radha’s surrender to Krishna, in some, the other’s have the theme of Radha-Krishna “Shrinagar”, and some depict the “viyoga” (separation) of Krishna. These are the themes of Gita Govinda GovindaliLamrita and other Varnava literacy works. Typical Rasleela includes the following steps –

  1. Krishna Abhisaar
  2. Radha-Gupi Abhisar
  3. Arrangement of Mondob
  4. Rag-Alap of Gupis
  5. Achouba Vongipareng
  6. Krishna Nartan
  7. Radha Nartan
  8. Different kind of Dances of the Gupis

There is no restriction of the number of Gopis in the Ras-dances. Also there is no restriction of the duration of the performance. The Guru (termed as Oja/Rasdhari) and Shutradhari should take as much time as they think it necessary for arousing the feelings of rasa, raga, anuraga, bhava, bibhava, etc. within the hearts of the Gopis as well as in the hearts of the audience. Waiting for Shri Krishna, calling his name, decorating for this satisfaction are all the important steps sung by the Gopis shedding tears on the chicks.

There are different kinds of Ras-dances. They are:
1. Maharas – perforemd in the full moon day (purnima tithi) of Kartik (October-November) based on Shrimad Bhagavata Panchyadhyaya.
2. Kunjaras – perforemd in the full moon day of Agrahayan (November-December) based on Brahma Beibarta Purana.  3. Basantaras – perforemd in the full moon day of Falgun (April) and Chaitra (May) based on Govinda Lila Amrita.  4. Nityaras – can be played on any auspicious night based on Govinda Lila Amrita. First introduced by Shrijut Chandrakirti Maharaj.
5. Dibaras – Often termed as Beliras; can be played in all months on any auspicious day, based on Govinda Lila Amrita.

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Ras performances are seasonal and varied and performed at temples of Manipuri inhabited areas in Bangladesh, Tripura and Assam and also in the temple of Shree Shree Govindajee in Imphal. Manipuri Maharasa, the yearly festival is being observed by the Bangladeshi Manipuris since 1845, during the full-moon-day of the month of October/November in ShivBazar JuraMandap, Madhabpur (A thickly Manipuri populated area of Moulvibazar district). Here hundreds of young Manipuri girls wearing the tradition Rasa dresses, dances all the night in three temples situated side by side in an equal manner. People from home and abroad flock to enjoy this festival.

Today the technique of the production and presentation has been modified to a great extent. The Padavali’s, which are mainly in Brajabuli, are now translated to Bishnupriya Manipuri language and also to Meitei language. This not only makes people to understand the lyrics properly and enjoy all the inner beauty and meaning of the dance,

 

Dance Costumes

The Ras costumes and ornaments of Sri Radhika and the Gopies are colorful and handsome. The skirt the present day Ras dancers wear is modeled on the one the Maharaja Bhagya Chandra(1763-1798) saw in is dream.

The costumes in Manipuri dance is very colorful, attractive and very richly bedecked. The female dancers wear a dress called “patloi”. The lehenga is called “Kumin” with mirrors and zari work intricately woven into beautiful designs. It is layered with a transparent silk or “Pasuan”. The choli is also embellished with zari, silk or gota embroidery. On the head, covering the face, they wear a transparent odhni, through which the expression and emotion on the face of the dancer can easily he seen. Gopis usually wear a red dress while Radha stands out in green attire. The male dancer, who is Krishna, wears a saffron dress.

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Ras costumes and ornaments of Sri Radhika and the Gopies are colorful and handsome. The skirt the present day Ras dancers wear is modeled on the one the Maharaja Bhagya Chandra(1763-1798) saw in his dream.

Here is List of Costumes and some terms related to the costumes and ornaments Used in Manipuri Dance –

Potlei : Ras costume of Sri Radhika and the Gopis, designed by the Potlei-setpa’s who rent them for the performance at some rates.

Koknaam : A gauze at overhead, embossed with silver Jari.

Meikhumbi: A transparent and thin vail thrown over the head.

kumin: An Embroidered brightly colored silk skirt.

Pasuan: A short flair of silver gauze over the kumin.

khaon: Rectangular embroidered piece with belt.

koktombi: Cap covering the head.

Thabret: A griddle round the waist.

Khangoi: Small rectangular belt over the Pasuan.

Leitreng: Golden ring round the head.

Chura: Made of peacock feathers, wired on top of head .

Feichom: Dhooti, a saffron dress.

Ghungur: Ornament for the foot.

 

 

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The dressing in a ras is so designed as to free them from any stimulus, excitement to the opposite sex. Dance is but the rhythmic expression of action and activities of life on the upper part of the body. The parts below the neck to feet are covered with cloths and the women hide the movements of the lower position of the body while dancing.