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Shumang Lila Under Threat From Westernization

IMPHAL, May 20: Fearing that Shumang Lila or courtyard theatre play has been increasingly subjected to the danger of being wiped out with the jettisoning of its tradition and the import of western culture, director of Theatre Mirror and Sumang Lila Warepam Naba has expressed the need to preserve the art in its pristine form.

Shumang Lila is a traditional performing art form of Meitei society of Manipur which is performed with the accompanying musical beats produced from traditional instruments like penna, Longdel etc. Shumang literally translates as courtyard while Lila means a play. It is performed traditionally on the courtyard, hence the name Shumang Lila.

In an interaction with media, the director of Theatre Mirror and Shumang Lila sounded caution on the future of the art form with the increasing use of western instruments.

“The traditional flavor of Shumang Lila is weaning in modern Meitei society,” Mr. Naba rued, while also adding that an academic subcommittee is exploring every possible way to revive the changing face of the art form and to reintroduce it in its pure form.

He is optimistic that the revival of the ancient art will be an engine which will take the rich cultural heritage of Meitei to the outside world and put it across for national and international recognition.

Speaking at Iboyaima Shumang Lila Shanglen in Palace Compound in Imphal today, Mr. Naba said that he has been in theatre movement since the 1980s and has performed in about forty Shumang Lilas in Manipur.

The present scenario of Shumang Lila is precarious with the introduction of western instruments like drums and keyboards, he said.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express/ Newmai News Network)

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