How do Manipuris entertain ?

By:- RK Lilapati Devi *

Entertainment is a part and parcel of a society. Man is a social animal. He cannot live alone. He needs his fellow beings be with him to live on. He is in tandem with his fellow beings in every walk of life.

Work alone cannot fill his heart and soul. There are also certain things without which life seems incomplete. They are those things which brings laughter, joy, happiness and satisfaction in our social libido.

Manipuris are noted as one of the communities that loves to entertain through out the year. Come January, February, March or any month, entertainments galore. Forget the state festivals which are celebrated with pomp and gay. Every locality; every village has its own favourite items of entertainments.

We are no lesser than the Romans or French in entertaining ourselves, but far behind all the glitz of civilisation they made. There are more than 29 tribal communities in Manipur and they all have their own forms of entertainments.

Lets take a very simple example, the recently concluded Durga Puja festival : There might have been a time in the history when this festival came into being in Manipur, we do not know., we are worshipping Godess Gurga and Panthoibi in this festival. We are certain Goddess Durga is a foreign lai. like Shree Ram or Ganesh . Or we have similar Gods like Lord Jaganatha.

We Manipuris are far generous in devotion to any kind of god. Most of the entertainments weaves around worshiping Gods or doing rituals, whether original or foreign originated. It is we who adds spice to these events and make an altogether palatable concoction of a festival. Come Ningol chakouba, we have a great feast with our brothers and sisters, followed by a gifting session.

When, it is dusk, people just do not enjoy staying in their homes. We have a musical night, or a theatrical experience in nearby theatre or in a leikai lampak. True, it is visible. We generally do not want to conclude ant type of festival. We always look for something to prolong .

Now-a days digital films are also being screened in our nearby lampak, that too in a so called charity show. Alas, it is a big slap to the film fraternity of producers. It is a blow to their revenue stream. Very recently, the Film Forum Manipur has given a statutory ban to such screening of films in leikai lampaks.

They have set guidelines to screen films only in theatres. They are true, what theatres are for! And that was not the case that some community development officer showed the films. Gone are the days we had such things and films like Roti Kapada aur makan, Masoom, Kranti etc were screen in leikai lampaks.

Once, there were hindi films in our theatres, people enjoyed its dance music and so called masala and the not so real type, make belief story. It was fun those days going to nearby theatres. Whenever any hit movie hits the theatre, cine goers ,teenagers to ahal hanubas will throng there.

Forget legendary films like Sholay that brought a sea of people in front of the theatres. Typical movies like Jackie shroff stared Hero, Sridevi stared Nagina, Aamir khan stared Qyamatse Qyamat tak, jaya Pradha starer Sangam, Sanjog, Salman Khan stared Meine pyar kiya et all made a fuss in the entertainment scenario in Manipuri society. There were many times, theatres were declared housefuls and people came back home disappointed.

And not only theatres could perform fully in the entertainment scenario, there were many a video palour opened in many localities with the devices like VCP or VCR. In that case, people could watch latest movies or movies on demand. Technology changed on wink of eyes. Those video parlours vanished forever from the scene.

Things went on , then Naharols appeared in the scene interfering in the entertainment palate too. They banned hindi movies consequently. Now we have the digital phenomenon of sucking entertainments in every form possible, digital movies, digital TV, mobile phone entertainment and so on. Entertainment globalised. We too took its share.

When march comes, entertainment comes to full circle. All naha, ahal and angang equally enjoys Yaoshang. From morning to late night, entertainment or the so called ritual goes on and on. There is din and hullabaloo whole day everywhere. Well, some sports events are also held in many leikais. That's a good community spirit.

There was a time the Thabal chongba continued till Meetei Cheiraoba. Even now-a days, some leishabi groups take permission from the social law maker groups to celebrate that , long after yaoshang is over.. Not only that, some unscrupulous group of people hold thabal chongba in many cases.

And nobody objects Now, lets come to the socio political picture of Manipur. It is a turbulent society. Where there is neither stability nor slow progress in any case, if we truly introspect.

It's not a news when somebody is killed in an ambush, bomb blast, hurling of grenades, everyday Wakat Miphams , JAC against xxxx and so on. The news paper have come to a daily dose of these items but only in different pages or different columns with the subject and objects changed.

The wakat miphams held here and there. It's no wonder so many people in a small state are engaged in every day riots and agitations. It seems people have begun to find a new taste in these regular agitation or the social activity so much so that, the real spirit of agitation seems to fade away and people are beginning to take it as an entertainment form.

Sorry Folks ! Can we use an insight here, how hundreds of women folks who had been ever busy with their household and keithel lairembi chores with their true meitei nupi spirits are ever wasting their time and have resolved to engage in daharanas or xxxx which had always rendered a futile activity in long run ! One thing is sure they are never a fool, they know the game of loss and gain. And above all, we Manipuris are all the entertainment loving species.

Sorry, community festivals like lai haraoba, jhulon, and many a religious, cultural festivals or even private festivals have been omitted in the discussion. It's not because, we hate those things. The same vein running there.

* RK Lilapati Devi wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition). This article was webcasted at on 10th November 2009.

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