By Bhudeb Chakrabarti
Manipuri Dance – One of the eight Indian Classical Dance Styles
Manipuri dance, from the ancient land of Manipur, is one of the eight and the finest Indian classical dance styles.
As the legend goes, Lord Shiva, the great connoisseur of cosmic dance of Lord Krishna, Radha and the Gopis, ensured that no one disrupted the rhythmic beauty of the heavenly dance. When Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva, desired to see the ethereal dance, he chose Manipur as the venue for re-enactment of the divine Raas Leela Dance.
Manipur: The land of unparalleled natural beauty
Manipur is a land of unparalleled natural beauty with an oval shaped lush valley surrounded by the ranges of evergreen blue hills with abundant flora and fauna.
People – Unity in Diversity
Manipur with Myanmar to its east, Assam to its west, Nagaland to its north and Myanmar and Mizoram to its south, is generally inhabited by the Meitis (mainly Hindus), in the valley and the Nagas and Kukis (mostly Christians), in the hills. Its people are mainly of the Indo Mongoloid stock, with their distinctive customs and cultures, martial tradition, independent spirit and great capacity for physical and mental endurance.
They speak in their in own rich and expressive languages and also speak ‘Meiteilon’ (Manipuri), the language of the Meiti people and the ‘lingua franca’ of Manipur.
They have lived together for centuries in complete harmony setting up a great example of unity in diversity.
Manipur has a historical record for at least 2500 years. Its old name was Kangleipak with Kangla being the capital of the rulers of Manipur. It retained its Independence till 1891, when the invading British Forces annexed the independent land of Manipur.
The Indian National Army reached Moirang in Manipur on 14 April, 1944 and unfurled the National Flag for the first time, on the soil of India. However they were compelled to retreat from the place.
Finally after India became independent in 1947, Manipur became an integral part of India, and attained full statehood on 21 January, 1972.
Panorama of Manipur
I went to Manipur several times in my life. Some of the places of Manipur are worth visiting, for a life time experience.
Tamenglong, a district of Manipur, is inhabited by the colourful Rongmei, Liangmei and Zeme Nagas and Kukis, each group with their own characteristic and beautiful handwoven costumes, artistic handicrafts and vibrant music and dance.
A paradise on earth with eternal spring, Tamenglong is to the north west of the capital city of Imphal. The district, aided by a plentiful rain, is splendidly lush green with exquisitely and flowery orchids, including some very rare orchids which are strictly forbidden to be taken out.
The Barak River, which flows through the district, provides an enchanting backdrop to the scenic landscape with, as many as, seven waterfalls joining the meandering river. The rushing silvery waterfalls particularly during the monsoon are a virtual treat for the viewers.
The grassy meadows of Buning near the picturesque Tamei Village, and the caves of Tharon both to the north of Tamenglong Town are ideally suited for people with a wanderlust.
The azure Zeilad Lake, with its tranquil waters, reflects the splendidly blue sky of Tamenglong Hills. Last, but not the least, the breath taking Khoupum Valley with its green carpet of paddy fields on the Old Cachar Road would make the visit to this serene land memorable.
Ukhrul, to the north east of Imphal City and the highest hill station of Manipur, enjoys a cool climate all throughout the year. Christmas time in the Ukhrul Hills is especially colourful and the festive atmosphere is truly unforgettable.
However the real charm of Ukhrul lies in its particular type of land lily. Come summer and the Siroy Hills to the north east of Ukhrul Town will be covered with the flowering land lily. The blooming Siroy Lily in the high hills of Siroy is bound be a captivating spectacle.
Imphal on Imphal River, the site of the Kangla Fort of the Manipur. Kings in their heydays, is at the heart of both the State of Manipur and the Manipur Valley.
Imphal Airport is the only Airport of Manipur.
The historic Sri Govindajee temple adjoining the Palace of the former Kings of Manipur, a beautiful edifice with the presiding deity in the centre flanked on both sides by the shrines of Sri Krishna-Balaram and Sri Jagnnath, is visited by a multitude of devotees every day which on special occasions of the Raas Leela Dance and Holi bear an atmosphere of heavenly bliss.
The imposing Shaheed Minar of Bir Tikendrajit, the hero of Manipur, in the heart of the city commemorates the indomitable spirit of the Manipur martyrs who laid down their lives. fighting against the British in 1891, for defending their freedom.
The women of Manipur Valley are noted for their dexterity in weaving exquisitely textured and beautifully coloured Handloom articles and making ingenious handicraft items. The independent women further market the products of their village level cottage industry either in their village market or in Imphal.
Khwairamband Bazar the World’s only market with shops owned, run and controlled by women is a symbol of women empowerment. Nupilal Memorial Complex in Imphal is a tribute to those courageous Manipuri women who sacrificed their lives fighting against the British.
Moirang in the valley district of Bishnupur, is famed for the ancient temple of the pre- Hindu deity Lord Thangling. Come May, Manipuri men and women dressed in colourful traditional costumes sing and dance in honour of the Lord.
Moirang will find a place in the hearts and minds of the people of our country as at Moirang the Indian National Army unfurled the National Flag under Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
Loktak Lake in Bishnupur District, is the biggest fresh water lake in the North East India. The fisher folks, dependent on the vast water body, have their homes on the shores of the Lake and cast their nets on the azure waters. The vast blue Lake is like a miniature inland sea and a visit to this watery environment will linger in the memory for long.
Keibul Lamjao National Park
Keibul Lamjao National Park on the fringes of Loktak Lake is the only floating National Park in the world. It is the last habitat of the brow-antlered rare “Sangai Deer” – the dancing deer of Manipur. The glimpse of the shy fleet footed beautiful deer in the unique wetland is an experience to be treasured in memory long after the visit to Keibul Lamjao.
The rich ancient culture and traditions, and heavenly dance of Manipur, makes it a unique state in India.
1.India’s Northeast – paradise unexplored (North Eastern Council Secretariat Ministry of DoNER )
2.Manipur Guide Map (Directorate of Tourism Government of Manipur)
3.Manipur Map – Manipur Remote Sensing Applications Centre, Government of Manipur.
This article is contributed by Bhudeb Chakrabarti, Dy IG (Retd) CRPF. He has commanded several Operational and Administrative functions in the force and has imparted training to gazetted officers of CRPF and other central & state police forces.
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