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Lahui’s Silver Jubilee Festival – 2010 —A Retrospective To Our Folk Music—

Can you believe one hour and more than 100 pages in text is not enough to describe the beauty of legendary Moirang Thoibi by a Muslim folk song? This happened in the 3rd day of the four days Silver Jubilee Festival of Lahui, a premier Centre for Research on Tradition and Indigenous Arts (16-19 December, 2010) held at Manipur Dramatic Union, Imphal. Even, Mahakavi Hijam Anganghal, author of only epic of Manipuri literature, Khamba and Thoibi may envy it.

There’s lot of music enthusiasts for modern song or pop music and Nat Sankirtana because of its popularity and commercial point of view. However, in the case of folk music, only a few enthusiasts took interest. Younger generations took no interest in folk music and there’s no commercial viability for it. So, it’s difficult to survive in this sophisticated world of music. So, the survival of folk music lays in the hands of few music lovers.

Even though folk music has little impact on modern people but its importance is so immense that the rich cultural heritage of that particular community can be found through to their folk music. The source of history is also from folk songs at its earlier stage. Modern world considered that oral literature is the most valuable asset. Folk song descended the tradition of oral literature. So, to study folklore is one of the important subjects in many universities and study centers of the world. Government and many financial institutes which invest in education spend a huge amount of money to folk music.

Many of rare art forms including folk music of this State have been on the verge of extinction day by day due to lack of people’s enthusiasm and support. Some of them have disappeared permanently. However, some Governmental agencies like Sangeet Natak Akademi and Dept of Culture, Govt of India take some programs like awarding fellowships and programs of Guru-Siksha Parapara to nourish various rare art forms of the country. Some non-governmental organizations also tried to develop rare art forms. They got financial assistance from Government and other financial agencies for this purpose. However, their efforts and enthusiasm could not be met by their financial assistance. An art form can’t survive without people’s enthusiasm and interest even though it has huge financial assistance. The best way to awaken people’s enthusiasm is to develop awareness among masses.

The name of Lahui is synonymous with many folk music lovers of the State for its various activities in recent times. Lahui’s production of Manipuri opera has attracted not only sensitive audiences of the State but also those from outside the State. Phouoibi, Lahui’s latest Manipuri opera production, gave its performance in Kolkata, Bangalore and Chennai.

Even, the audiences of metros appreciated their performance. Lahui’s specialty in modernization of traditional folk music and dance are praised in elite circle of State as well as outside.

In order to preserve and promote folk music of the State Lahui organized Lahui Festival, 2010 from 16 – 19 December last in the premises of Manipur Dramatic Union in connection with their Silver Jubilee

Celebration with the theme ‘our folk music – a retrospect’ supported by Ministry of Culture, Govt of India.

During the four-day festival altogether sixteen different groups of folk music who have been involved in promotion of folk music of the State, gave their performances. Some of them were so rare that the songs may not be seen any more after the old performer expired. The situation is graver in case of tribal folk music. Christianity baptized almost all the hill area of the State so that new generation of tribal area may not be even remembering a single sentence of their folk music. The situation is also not so good to scheduled caste people of the valley. So, Lahui’s timely festival gave a room to breadth for folk music lovers of the State.

On the first day of the festival, Ukai Kappa, a Pena eshei directed by Guru Khangembam Mangi Singh gave its performance after the formal inaugural function of the festival before the enthusiastic audiences. The screening of a documentary film named ‘Pena the fiddle of languor’ under the banner of Akavision concluded the day one’s program. All together six groups performed on 2nd day of the festival. They are—Chiru folk music by artistes of Nungasai Chiru, Khunung Ishei by artistes of Kakching Khunou, Maring folk music by artistes of Sandangsenba Maring, Phayeng folk music by artistes of Phayeng village, Khurkhul folk music by artistes from Khurkhul village and Moirang Sai— Kabaw Leikai Koiba directed by Guru Langathel Thoinu. The day’s program concluded with the screening of Neovista’s documentary ‘Tarao’,

On the 3rd day of the festival, altogether four groups gave their performances. They are—Chothe folk music by artistes of Purum Khullen, Andro folk music by artistes of Andro village, Meitei Pangal folks by artistes of Keirao, Haorao Seigonna Jagoi directed by Ema amaibi L Dhani. The screening of Neovista’s documentary film ‘Zeliangrong—A Colorful Entity’ concluded the day’s program. There were five groups which gave their performances on the fourth and the last day of the festival including a discussion on ‘Preservation of Our Folk Music’. They are—Khoibu folk music by R Simion Khoibu, Tangkhul folk music by artistes of Poirou Cultural Committee, Poirou, Liangmei folk song by artistes of Tamei, Drum ensemble by artistes of Major Khun Young Association and Tankhul folk song by Guru Rewben Mashangva. The day’s program concluded with the screening of Neovista’s documentary film ‘Teshel’.

Those performances of folk music by different groups of valley and hill are so valuable that one cannot easily get the chance to witness this folk music in this modern day. It’s difficult to find a group which is dedicated to folk music among this day’s heavy atmosphere of pop music. The survivals of these groups are on verge of extinction because younger generations take no interest to this folk music.

Before this festival, a few are aware of the fact that there is Muslim folk song that can stretch for more than one hour to describe the beauty of legendary Moirang Thoibi and hundred pages in” text. Guru Rewben Mangshava and his son’s Tangkhul folk added another feather to the cap of this four-day festival.

The discussion on ‘Preservation of Our Folk Music’ generated a lot of heat among the panelists. Many opined that Lahui’s festival gave a room to our folk music.

They further opined that some immediate policy and programs should be taken up to preserve and promote our folk music. To include understanding of our culture in the syllabuses of schools and colleges of the State, to organize more festivals and program to bring awareness about our folk songs by younger generation, modernization of our traditional art forms etc are the highlights of the discussion.

We suggest that Lahuis take up more programs to promote folk songs of the State in particular and Northeast India in general as a great contribution towards preservation and promotion of our rich cultural heritage.

*The article is written by Rajmani Ayekpam.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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