Lai Haraoba is an annual ritualistic festival associated with Meitei communities of Manipur, India. It is celebrated to please traditional and ancestral deities locally known as Umang Lai. During the festival Amaiba (the priests), Amaibi (the shaman priestesses) and Penakhongba (the balladeers) along with villagers performed a recollection of the stories of Creation dramatizing the Meitei worldview of the first origin of the universe, evolution of plants and animals and the process of human civilization.
Harao Seigonnabi is a compact performance of some selected dances of the Lai Haraoba.
Act 1 : will comprise with the following dance repertoires in briefs:
Chakmang Jagoi – It is a dance specifically performed by village virgin girls at the altar of the shrine in the morning before lunch. The dance is performed wearing clean and sanctified clothes reminiscing the story of playfulness of the deities by singing the dignifying songs of the deities.
Loutarol – It is a ritual performance of songs and dances with a good deal of dramatic elements, depicting the sowing seeds at the initial stage of cultivation, for a prosperous year ahead. While Panthoibi was planting in the fields and Nongpok Ningthou was out for hunting, they encountered and fell in love with each other.
Lai Nupi Thiba – ‘seeking a consort for the male god’ – The basis of this performance is believed to be the myth that Nongpok Ningthou came down to find himself a consort with his face veiled and polo mallet over his shoulder.
Panthoibi Jagoi – This ritual performance focuses upon goddess Panthoibi. The basis of the performance is the myth of the romantic legend between Nongpok Ningthou and goddess Panthoibi, a beautiful maiden. The dance episode depicts this struggle of finding her lover Nongpok Ningthou and finally they are united. The body movement and the song depicts the unison of the two lovers in subtlety.
Paosha Jagoi – Paosha means ‘exchange of news’ in the sense of expression of feelings of love. The dance cast in the form of riddles and containing veiled sexual imagery. The exchange of ideas and intellects between Gods and Goddesses on the relationship between males and females, their rights etc are expressed.
Long Khonba – (‘Long’ is the fishing basket.) In this episode, the long is used symbolically of the gathering of the scattered souls of the Supreme God and Goddess (including the community after the celebration). The basis of the episode is the believed that even though God Pakhangba and Goddess Laisna are united, Laisna went in search of Pakhangba’s real souls in the streams of waterbodies. Gathering the five souls and the six including the shadow, the souls are given life.
Lai Kaba – return of the soul to divinity – After the union of the Supreme God and Supreme Goddess, the time has now come to return to their abode and they blessed the village and the country for the prosperity.
Thang Katpa – The dancers performs the sword dance, symbolically, it is a performance of driving away the evil spirits and purifying the community from the evil thoughts, the performers call for a prosperous and peaceful society ahead.
Duration 24 min.
Act 2: Chafu Jagoi – The basis of this dance sequence is the believed that when there was only a waterbody, God Aseeba – the mortal – created the earth drawing the solid mass underneath from the water.
Laiching Jagoi – It is the dance by Amaibis bringing the Gods and Goddesses, imitating the creation of Universe, earth, living creatures by the Gods and Goddesses.
Anoirol – The dance depicts the procreation of human being by the union of the Father Sky and Mother Earth creating life through body movement. As Anoirol is sung, the mimed dance depicts the movement of life cycles which includes the making of the body (called hakchang saba). The movement symbolizes ‘life’.
Yumsarol – After the creation of the human being, this dance sequence depicts the making of houses for the shelter by cutting trees.
Fisarol – It is the dance depicting the process of making clothes – the production of cotton from planting to making thread, weaving and finally making clothes.
Paton Jagoi – It is a dance on the basis of knowing the body both inner and outer (nung-paan) specifically the nerves, veins and their streams and flows. The purpose is to clean and purify the streams and flows to make it a clean channel for a better and prosperous society. The human body is also imagined as the Universe.
Chungkhong Jagoi – Chungkhong are the posts that represent the corners of the four directions. The dance sequence is an episode of paying obeisance to the four directional Guardian Gods for a peaceful and prosperous Community and Country.
Thang Katpa – Burning fires on the four corners of the shrine, the amaibis performs the spectacular sword dance. Symbolically, it is a performance of driving away the evil spirits from the courtyard and the village, while the smoke from the fires signifies cleansing and purification. By warding off the evil spirits, dispelling the threats to the land, purifying the community from the evil thoughts, the performers call for a prosperous and peaceful society ahead.
Duration 22 mins.
M Mangangsana Ng Durgeshwori Kh Sandhyarani P Gitanjali Y Anjila L Turist Devi Mangka M P Mutum Urmila Sanatombi Devi P Lilabati Ng Michael Singh Romi Meitei P Tiken Singh Ph Kamalkanta Laishram Prithibiraj
Concept and Choreograpy: Mangangsana