The origin of Manipuri dance can be traced back to ancient times that go beyond recorded history. The dance, which originated in the state of Manipur, is associated with many rituals and traditional festivals. There are legendary references to the dances of Shiva and Parvati and other gods and goddesses who created the universe.
However, Manipuri is not the only dance form popular in the Northeast state. There are several other folk dance forms worth knowing. Here are a few of them:
Popularly known as a divine dance, Raas Leela is an important part of traditional Manipuri culture and its uniqueness can be visibly seen in every aspect of the dance form, be it the costume or the moves. As per reports, Raas Leela was first treated as a dance form in 1779 by Ningthou Ching Thang Khambatta, also known as Rajarshi Bhagya Chandra, an 18th-century Meitei monarch. The dance depicts the connection of the individual soul with the spirit of the supreme being if true faith is developed. During the performance, eye-catching stylish movements and graceful gestures can be seen.
It is a famous dance style of Manipur which involves dancing and playing a drum simultaneously. Pung Cholom is also a combination of sound and movement, which demands acrobatic skills as it requires jumping and swirling.
Luivat Pheizak is one of most popular dances of the Tangkhul Naga community of Manipur. The dance, which depicts the different stages of cultivation and the simple lifestyle of the community, is performed during all traditional festivals in the state.
Popularly known as the fly dance, Shim Lam is the traditional folk dance of Rongmei community. The performers adorned with bright colourful traditional attires spin in circles around each other while following the rhythm of the chanting singers in the background. The men strut to the music with a ritual knife in their hands while the female dancers follow the beat with their twirling hands in the air.
Known as the art of sword and spear, this Manipuri traditional dance features a wide range of martial arts weaponry in their performance. From metallic swords to wooden spears, the dancers employ them in a dizzying display of steel and sparks as they soar among each other.