Ras Leela

 Vaishnavite Dance of Manipur

"Two young dancers portray Lord Krishna and Radha in Ras Leela. Both dancers are members of artistic families. Thounaojam Lalitkanta, portraying Krishna, is grandson of Sarangthem Guru Meitei Tomba, and son of Ojha Thambaltombi Devi, Principal of Manipur State Dance College. Moirangthem Noopur, as Radha, is daughter of Moirangthem Guru Nabaghana Shyam Singha and Christel Stevens of Nritya Rangam/Temple of Dance in Maryland, U.S.A."

"Vaishnavism expressed itself in the new very important ritual dance-drama, the 'Ras', a creation of the Meiteis conceived by King Bhagyachandra of Manipur who was himself a saintly devotee of Shri Krishna. This king, inspired by a religious dream, caused a statue of Krishna, cut from a jackfruit tree, to be placed in a new palace temple called Manipur Govindaji. In the Mandop (arena) attached to this temple, centering around the statue, with his own daughter playing the part of Krishna's beloved Radha, the first 'Ras' dance-drama was performed; and it has now become the heritage of Meiteis who perform it yearly." Louise Lightfoot, Dance Rituals of Manipur, India.

Maharaja Bhagyachandra



Saturday, September 27, 1997



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