Raas Leela Festival of Manipur

Raas Leela Festival of Manipur, Raas Leela Festival Manipur, Rass Lila by Krishna, Ras Leela, Rasa Leela, Raas Lila

The Raas Leela is the famous dance of Manipuri culture invoking deep feelings of people. The dance illustrates an eternal love of Radha and Krishna as been described in the Hindu scriptures & puranas. Also reveals the sublime love of Lord Krishna and Radha including the devotion of Gopies towards the Lord.

The actual meaning, Manipuri Raas Leela specially depicts the connection of the individual soul with the spirit of the Supreme Being, if true faith is developed. The Gopikas represent individual souls confined to mundane responsibilities. The Godhead, represents by Lord Krishna, is projected through the call of his enchanting flute.

With an eternal bond of love, they sneak out of their existence of human body but get united with each other with the soul. Therefore, it is a representation of projection of an interconnection of the human souls with the Supreme Being. In actual dance performance, the eye catching stylish movements and graceful gestures can be seen. During performance, these movements are controlled very much, that it acquires a touch of spiritual force.

Raas Leela Festival of Manipur

There are different kinds of Ras-dances. They are:
  • Maharas - to be played on the full-moon day of Mera (October) based on Shrimad Bhagavata Panchyadhyaya.
  • Kunjaras - to be played on the full-moon day of Hiyanggei (November) based on Brahma Beibarta Purana.
  • Basantaras - to be played beginning from the full-moon day of Shajibu (April) to the full-moon of Kalen (May) based on Govinda Lila Amrita.
  • Nityaras - to be played on any auspicious day of ten months except Hiyanggei and Shajibu based on Govinda Lila Amrita.
  • Dibaras - to be played in all months on any auspicious day, based on Govinda Lila Amrita.

Raas Lila Manipuri Festival

Here are some facts you need to know of the festival.

1. Approximately 150 years old Ras-Leela festival, considered to be one of the biggest festival of Vishnupriya Manipuri community was first introduced during the reign of Manipuri ruler Maharaj Bhagya Chandra.

2. The Ras dance begins with assemblage of cowboy in a mandap and serve cooked rice and vegetables to the cowherd girls , also called ‘gopiyas.’It was followed by a dance where Manipuri children also take part. The dance symbolizes divine love story of Lord Krishna and Radha.

3. The Ras festival comprised of six different types of dance forms – Maha Ras, Basant Ras, Nitya Ras, Krishna Ras, Gopi Ras and Udshool Ras.

4. History claimed that Bhagyachandra, strong worshipper of Govinda, himself instituted Ras-Leela dance. And he celebrated the first Ras-Leela fest in Manipur likely in 1779 on the full moon day of November (Kartik month according to Bengali calendar). His daughter – Bimbavati performed as Radha in the Ras-leela.

5. The dance has different kinds of rhythms and body acts. Costumes for the Ras-Leela consist of vibrant embroidered stiff volume skirt over which a sheer light muslin garment is worn over it with a white veil on the head. The dancers wear light jewellery. The males performed with instruments like ‘kartals’ and ‘pungs.’ Drummers, flutist, conch shell blowers and esraj players are also involved in the Ras-Leela.

6. Artists or performers in the Ras- Leela should abstain from non-vegetarian foods during training and performance period as mark of ritual observance.

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