Moibung Ishei

Moibung Ishei is extremely auspicious and brings good fortune to those who get the rare opportunity of hearing it. It is an inauguration of what is to follow. The musician plays a pair of moibungs (conch shells) to produce thunderous, yet appealing and melodic ishei (music). This style of music is found only in Manipur.

Dhon Dholak Cholam

This drum dance is an important feature of holi, the colorful spring festival of Manipur. The players of the dhon and dholak drums perform intricate rhythms while executing cholam, graceful and dynamic movements of the body. In Manipur, sankirtan, devotional group singing, often accompanies Dhon Dholak Cholam.

Maibi Duet

Priestesses, known as Maibis, are considered to be spiritual mediums in Manipur. In this dance, they trace the history of creation and the growth of civilization by performing a complicated dance ritual.

Lai Haraoba Dance

This is the most important and popular folk dance of Manipur. It is generally performed during the summer and early monsoon seasons at Laibungs, the temple grounds of Umang Lai, the sylvan gods. Lai literally means gods and goddesses and Haraoba means joyful festivity. This joyful folk dance is accompanied by very ancient Manipuri music and instruments.

Dasa Avatar Solo

The Dasa Avatar dance drama is composed purely in the classical style of the great Manipuri dance guru, Amubi Singh. The dancer enacts the pastimes of the Dasa, ten principle, Avataras, incarnations of  Lord Vishnu. The song is taken from the Gita Govinda, composed by Jayadeva Goswami.

Khol Marul

The Marul language of the Manipuri Khol drum has a delightfully mesmerizing effect upon the listener. The present day Manipuri Khol is a wooden adaptation of the Bengali clay Khol, which was brought to Manipur as part of the Gaudiya Vaisnava liturgy in the 18th century.

Abhimanyu Jagoi

Abhimanyu, a boy of only 16, learned from his father Arjuna, the hero of the Mahabharata, the science of penetrating into the military phalanx known as the Chatur Vyuha. He was to be followed into the phalanx by the senior militia of the army, who would then defeat the opposing army’s generals. Somehow, the phalanx was sealed after Abhimanyu’s entrance. The six great generals of the opposing army took this unfortunate situation to their advantage by mercilessly killing him in a dishonorable six-against-one battle. The Abhimanyu Jagoi dance is a dramatized account of this famous and highly emotional conflict.

Aniga-Amaga Yannava

Aniga-Amaga Yannava (two-against-one fighting) was a common scenario for the people of Manipur. The Manipuris had to defend themselves regularly against the marauding Burmese, who outnumbered them 40-to-1. Manipuri women participate equally with men in the field of martial arts and when attacked seem to possess an almost mystical strength.

Thangpak Yannava

Thangpak, scimitar-like swords, are used in this spectacular display of force and dexterity—not for the weak at heart!

Kabui Shim Lam

This Shim Lam (“fly dance”) takes one to the exotic surroundings of a mountainous Kabui Naga village of Manipur. According to Kabui legend, there was a prophet named Mhung, who provided laws for all of the creatures on earth. Mhung performed a great sacrifice to which all the different creatures of the earth were invited. At this sacrifice, the guests performed their respective dances. The Kabui people imitate these dances during the seed planting and harvest festivals.

Instrumental Music

Esaraj (a stringed instrument), Basi (flute), Pung (Manipuri classical drum) and Mandilas (ladies’ hand cymbals) combine to create beautiful music that is distinctly Manipuri.

Pung Cholam

Pung Cholam is an acrobatic and energetic drum dance. The Pung (Manipuri classical drum) is an indispensable part of the social, cultural and religious lives of Manipuri Vaisnavas (followers of  Lord Vishnu). Pung Cholam is traditionally performed as an invocation before both Nata-Sankirtan (group devotional singing and dancing) and the Rasa Lila dance.

Vasanta Rasa Lila

Manipur’s Bhagavat culture has found its supreme expression in various forms of esoteric devotional dance and music, the most important of them being the Rasa Lila, popularly know as Manipuri dance. The sublimity of Rasa Lila manifests the quintessence of Bhagavat culture and philosophy—the yearning of the individual soul to surrender to the supreme soul, Lord Sri Krishna, thereby attaining transcendent happiness and the ultimate fulfillment of spiritual desire. Of the five Rasa Lila dances performed in Manipur, the Vasanta Rasa Lila is played on the full-moon night of the spring season. Lord Sri Krishna goes to an appointed Kunja (grove) on the bank of the Yamuna river in Vrindavana and plays His enchanted flute. His beloved Gopis (cowherd girls), led by Srimati Radharani Devi, respond to the call of His mystical flute by joining together with Him in dance, while playing Holi to their utmost delight. This Vasanta Rasa Lila dance is a gift from Rajarshi Bhagyachandra Maharaja who obtained it in a divine vision of Lord Sri Krishna Himself. Rajarshi Bhagyachandra ruled Manipur during the 18th century and was instrumental in preserving and developing Manipur’s rich cultural heritage.

Click here to view a 5 minute Flash presentation of some of Ranganiketan‘s repertoire