TANGKHUL NURABI staged in New Delhi


NEW DELHI, April 5 (MIC): Delhites had a chance to witness a rare performance of Tangkhul  Nurabi which was a ritual drama embedded in the Lai Haraoba (Pleasing of God) festival of Manipur on Sunday evening at the open air auditorium of the Indira Gandhi National Centre of Arts(IGNCA), Rajendra Prasad Road here. The cultural performance was a part of the Indigenous Theatre Festival of North East India being held from April 2 to 10 under the sponsorship of the IGNCA where 14 plays from the eight North Eastern States were takinf place. 
The 75- minute play directed by the noted film maker Dr. Makhonmani Mongshaba of Epathoukok, Manipur depicted the episodes of the quarrels and the subsequent union of the two prominent deities of Manipur who contributed to the growth of the civilization of the Meetei community in Manipur.  It was a ritual enactment performed by the Amaiba and Amaibis, the male and female shamans respectively, one day before the end of the Lai Haraoba festival. 
The love and romance of the ancestral God Nongpok Ningthou who was the guardian of the eastern region and the ancestral female deity Panthoibi were dramatized through the frolics of the Tangkhul, an inhabitant of the eastern hills and Nurabi, a lass of the foothills, as incarnations of the two deities.
Tangkhul came down from the hills, and on the way, spotted a group of women led by Nurabi engaged in slash and burn cultivation.  On his way back from the market in the valley, he saw the women encroaching on his ancestral land.  Disputes between the two protagonists about their inherited ancestral domains resulted in intense hostility and sexually charged actions.  Through the intervention of an old Lampu, the mediator and organizer of hill and plain relations, the two protagonists were united as man and wife.  This ritual dramatization of male and female as complimentary principles in reproduction were sanctioned by cosmic beliefs in the culture of the Meetei for fertility, abundance and health of the policy.
Dr. Makhonmani said that actual female shamans were themselves actors in the play.  First noticed in the 11th century as antiphonal songs, the later introduction of speech acts evolved the sequence into a well structured play form compulsorily attached to the fertility rites.  Antiphonal songs, humour and sexual innuendos, along with creation dances and music made it one of the unique forms of ritual dramas of the valley of Manipur.
Ch. Iboyaima who acted as Tangkhul, though he was not a professional theatre artiste, did his performance brilliantly. He acted, sang and danced like an opera artiste; and enthralled the huge crowd of the Sunday evening. Amaibi Memma Leima who acted as Nurabi was not lagging behind in her performance. Everyone enjoyed the play.
Amaibi Tamu Leima, H. Amumacha, R. K. Jenny, Ng. Ranjita, Ksh. Pajaton Chanu, S. Minakumari, Y. Reena Devi, Ng. Ibopishak Singh, Nabakanta, Ph. Sonia, N. Jilatombi, M. Rajen, Damukanta Sharma, Jitchandra, L. Ramananda, L. Rattan, A. Kumarbi, M. Gourachandra Singh and Manju Elangbam were among the cast and crews of the production.


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