Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bhagyachandra National Festival of Classical Dance 2011

This is a part of the upcomming most sought tourism fest called "Sanhai Festival".

Venues: November 10 at Kaina, November 11-13 at Kangla

A brief about the Festival

The ninth edition of the Bhagyachandra National Festival of Classical Dance 2011 is being held for four days from November 10-13, 2011. The Manipur Chief Minister Shri O Ibobi Singh will be inaugurating the Festival on November 10 at Kaina. The highlight of the day’s event is performance of Sankritana and Maha Raas.

The Manipur Governor Gurbachan Jagat will open the Main Performance of the Festival at the Shree Shree Govindajee Temple Complex at Kangla on November 11 evening. Well known artistes from across the country will be in the city to present their art and encapture the spectators with their mastery on the classical dance forms. Young and upcoming artistes from the State will share a common space with the masters during three evenings of thrilling experience.

The festival had been appropriately named after the saint king, Meidingu Chingthangkhomba who is popularly known in Manipur history as Rajarshi Bhagyachandra Maharajah (1759-1798 A.D.). The king is credited as having conceived the form and design of the Raas Leela, the Manipuri classical dance which was introduced in 1797 AD.

This national festival of classical dance had grown out of the desire to provide a platform where artistes from all over the country could present their best performances before an audience well versed in the arts and culture. At the same time, it could provide an opportunity to generate emotional integrity with the rest of the country through art. Within this framework, the Bhagyachandra National Festival of Classical Dance is designed as a celebration of the art of dance, interpreted as an integral part of our lives. We have looked for aesthetic excellence and clarity of expression. We have looked for the best communicators in their respective arts.

The first edition of the festival was held in 1989, under a joint venture of the East Zone Cultural Centre, Kolkata; North East Zone Cultural Centre, Dimapur and the Department of Social Welfare, Art & Culture, Government of Manipur. Since then, eight editions have come and gone, leaving in their wake fond memories of fleeting feet keeping rhyme to estatic drum music, and fluid body movements that kept the spectators glued to their seats, finally erupting in thunderous applause.

In summing up the broad objective of hosting the festival, the former Art & Culture Director, (late) Chongtham Samarendra aptly commented, “This Festival is the first of its kind ever held in the whole of East and North East India. The contribution of Rajarshi Bhagyachandra to the cultural renaissance of Manipur has so far not been properly acknowledged and projected outside Manipur.

The highly artistic Manipuri classical dance form owes its origin to the savant King of Manipur who was the innovator, creator, patron, connoisseur, composer and choreographer of Raas Leela. It is our sincere wish that this Festival will herald a new era of cultural growth in this remote part of the country”.


Kaina is an important worship site of the Vaishnavite Manipuris. The place is associated with the legendary saint King, Meidingu Chingthangkhomba, popularly known as Rajarshi Bhagyachandra, a great patron of art and culture, and who introduced the Manipuri classical dance Raas to the world in 1797 AD. According to legend, the god Shree Shree Govindajee appeared in the dream of Rajarshi Bhagyachandra and He asked the King to create an image of Him and to worship it.

The King instructed his master craftspersons to carve the image of the god out of logs of a jackfruit tree that grew at Kaina hillock. And thus began the worship of Shree Shree Govindajee by the Vaishnavite Hindus in Manipur. Kaina is situated 29 km east of Imphal in Keirao-Bitra subdivision of Imphal East District, and the place is reached after crossing the scenic Ngariyan hill.

An area covering 22x18.40 sq.m. inclusive of the temple complex and its immediate surroundings are protected by the Government of Manipur under the provisions of the Manipur Ancient & Historical Monument & Archaeological Sites & Remains Act 1976.


Standing proud and strong, defying age and weathering, Kangla is a legacy of the Manipur Kings. Each space of the landscape, every inch of the standing monuments narrate tales of the glory and achievements of the Manipur Kings who ruled at Kangla since 33 AD up to the 19th century AD.

The essence of Manipur’s civilization and cultural history are embedded in the walls, the bricks and the fabric of the monuments that stand testimony to the whirling times in history when the Manipur kings ventured as far as the Kingdoms of Siam, Ava, and the hill tracts in the north bordering the mighty Chinese Empire. According to a popular myth, in those ancient times when the earth was covered with water, there was a patch of land that dried first. This place ‘Pungmayon’ was at the centre of the world. As this place dried first, it came to be known as ‘Kangla Pungmayon’.

Kangla is a revered holy place of the Manipuris. There are numerous sites that are held sacred by the Meiteis, such as the Kangla men surung, Nunggoibi, Yaoreibi, Oakshang and Langshang. It was customary for the Manipur kings to ascend the throne at Kangla. When the British forces occupied Kangla in 1891 AD, much of the structures within the fort were severely damaged or completely levelled with the ground. Some structures like Shree Shree Govindajee temple, Bheithap, Brinabanchandra temple, wall portion of Citadel, and the steps leading up to the Uttra Shanglen survived the destruction.

The natural setting and architectural design of Kangla served as an ideal fort capital of the Manipur Kings. The entire landscape is strewn with the aura of a religious setting mixed with historical nostalgia of a past civilization. The architectural design of Kangla indicates the martial character of the Manipuris, while also showcasing the religious temperament of the people. The temple enclosures remind us of the cultural enthusiasm of the Manipur Kings who patronized art and culture.

Maha Raas

Of the five Raas Leelas - Maha Raas, Vasanta Raas, Kunja Raas, Nitya Raas and Diva Raas, the first three are attributed to the saint king, Rajarshi Bhagyachandra (1759-1798 AD). A great patron of art and culture, Rajarshi Bhagyachandra conceived the form, text and concept of the Raas, and for the first time ever, the King dedicated a Maha Raas performance to Shree Shree Govindajee for five consecutive nights culminating in the full moon night of Hiyangei in 1797 AD.

The King’s daughter, Vimbavati, popularly known as Shija Lairoibi, took the lead role of Radha. The theme and sequences of the Maha Raas are based on the Bhagavatam (Ras panchadhyaya) in which the slokas of the Bhagavata text are recited and sung. Manipur owes greatly to Rajarshi Bhagyachandra for founding, creating and designing such a unique dance at once spiritual and graceful in its import and expression.

Source: http://e-pao.net/epSubPageExtractor.asp?src=manipur.Arts_and_Culture.Article_Dances_Manipur.Bhagyachandra_National_Festival_of_Classical_Dance_2011_Part_1

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