Meitei Manipuris celebrate Lai Haraoba in Tripura

December 22nd, 2009 - 8:56 pm ICT by ANI  

By Pinaki Das

Agartala, Dec.22 (ANI): The Meitei Manipuri people in Tripura, who have settled and made this State their homeland, celebrated Lai Haraoba recently with pomp and show after a gap 30 years since peace has started returning to Tripura.

The objective of the celebration was to keep alive the cultural heritage of Manipuris who are living away from their home State and let the new generation know about their cultural heritage.

A team from Manipur was invited to conduct this special programme.

Lai Haraoba, which literally means pleasing of the Gods, festival is the biggest single key to the religion, culture and history of the Meitei Manipuri.

It is celebrated through oral literature, music and dance, ceremonial and ritual, which presents a unique pre-Hindu Vaishnav religion of the Manipuri people. Some believe it is the festival of Shiva and his consort Parvati.

The Manipuris believe that Lai Haraoba dance represents the concept of the beginning of the world.

“This festival is taking place at least after 25 years. I am enjoying it for the first time. Lai Haraoba is the biggest festival of the Manipuris and it means pleasing of the Gods. I think such festival unites people, said Swapna Sinha, one of the audience.

Hymns are narrated on the creation of this universe; the sun, the stars, the planets, the moon, the earth, air, water, etc. accompanied with dances shown through different khut-theks (hand movements).

Legend about the origin of the festival is that the gods held the first Lai Haraoba on the Koubru hill, so that their descendants should imitate them and perform the same as it had been done by the deities so that they will never forget the secret and sacred story of the creation of this universe and the birth of the different lives on this earth.

Meanwhile, people thronged the venue to have a glimpse of the classical dances and spectacular martial arts of Manipur.

The Manipuris have inherited their martial arts tradition from their forefathers who had to defend themselves from the attack of neighboring countries. Therefore, Manipuris developed and mastered sophisticated forms of martial arts since olden times.

Of the various forms of Manipuri martial arts, sword fighting, spear fighting and wrestling are well known. A fascinating display of these martial arts skills was displayed during the function.

Lai Haraoba is the only cultural activity in which social, philosophical and religious life of the Meiteis is depicted. (ANI)

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