Bhagyachandra dance fest opening day saw Nata Sankirtana, Maha-Raas performances

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BISHNUPUR, November 6: Rajarshi Bhagyachandra’s divine visions, which resulted in Raas dance and Nata Sankirtana, are widely acclaimed throughout the world as the highest level of art, Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh today observed while inaugurating the 10th Bhagyachandra National Festival of Classical Dance at the Ningthoukhong Gopinath Mandir.

He said what is important today is to analyse and keep intact the valuable asset that Rajarshi Bhagyachandra had left for the people of Manipur in the field of culture and performing art, he observed.

Nata Sankirtana’s inscription in the UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity is a great achievement, for which we must pay our respect to Rajarshi Bhagyachandra, he continued.

He said the idea of holding the festival in the memory of King Bhagyachandra of the 18th century was conceived years back in 1989 keeping it at a par with other national festivals such as Konark and Khajuraho.

It has since then been successfully organised featuring many eminent dancers of the country including dancers of our State, he said.

The main dance festival will commence tomorrow at the Kangla and continue for three days, the Chief Minister said before adding that the festival also gives an opportunity to the people of the State to witness various major dance forms of the country.

The Chief Minister paid tributes and homage to the Rajarshi, and said as part of the festival Nata Sankirtana performances had been offered at Govindabari, Jiyaganj and Shri Shri Anumahaprabhu temple, Nabadwip in West Bengal on November 3 and 4, respectively along with a puja of ‘Khunti or Jai Patra’, a symbol of recognition of Maharaja Bhagyachandra as ‘Rajarshi’ which is still preserved and worshipped at Radha Krishna temple, Govindabari, Jiyaganj.

“A replica of this Khunti has been brought to Manipur for future reference and will be displayed at Kangla during the main dance festival.”

The Maharaja is revered not only in Manipur but he is still very much respected and worshipped in West Bengal by Gouriya Vaishnava Sampradaya for his devotion, spiritual realisation and most importantly for his role, influence and contribution in bringing back the tradition of worshipping idols of deities in the temples publicly in West Bengal, he said.

Worshipping of deities in the temples was earlier banned and strongly prohibited by the then Muslim rulers and as such, people use to hide idols of deities in the dugout caves, he added.

The festival is jointly organised by the Arts and Culture department and Gopinathjeev Sevayat Committee Ningthoukhong.

The inaugural function was also attended by Commerce and Industries minister Govindas Konthoujam, Khangabok MLA Landhoni.

Nata Sankirtana and Maha-Raas dance performance during today’s full-moon evening as an offering to the Rajarshii Bhagyachandra was the main highlight of the evening.

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