Traditional Dance Of Manipur | Classical and Folk Dance

In the northeastern corner of India, Manipur, the small state is filled with so many elements of its cultural heritage. The region is filled with so many artistic expressions, dance being one of them. Fluidity, grace and a profound sense of spirituality surround the dance forms of Manipur. If you are thinking to discover these wonderful dances, this blog can be your best guide to get a proper taste of them.

History and Origins

The rich culture of Manipur gave rise to Manipuri dance. Manipuri dancing appears in ancient texts and art. It began as Krishna and Radha devotion in Manipur temples. It adopted Tibetan and Southeast Asian culture.

Forms of Manipuri Dances

Traditional and folk Manipuri dancing are distinct.

Classical Manipuri Dance:

Ras Lila

Ras Lila is the most revered Manipuri dance. In this form of dance Krishna and Radha’s sweet love story is important. Costumed dancers recreate Krishna’s playful and amorous antics here. Slow, delicate movements, precision footwork, and expressive faces characterize the dance magnificently.

Nata Sankirtana

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Manipuri Nata Sankirtana combines dance, music, and story. Male dancers and musicians playing Manipuri pung and kartal perform the whole dance. In this dance legendary dances make acrobatic moves.

Lai Haraoba

The other Manipur dances include Lai Haraoba, performed during religious events. This traditional Manipuri dance celebrates various deities. The dance features intricate hand gestures and symbolic dances by men and women in elaborate costumes and masks.

Folk Manipuri Dance:

Maibi Dance

In Manipur, the Maibi priestesses conduct a traditional dance. Priestesses with magical powers dance to heal and exorcise. Powerful movements, skilled footwork, and dramatic attitudes characterize Maibi dance.

Khamba Thoibi Dance

The classic Manipur dance Khamba Thoibi tells Prince Khamba and Princess Thoibi’s love story. It is a vibrant dance by men and women in bright costumes.

Symbols and Meaning

Manipuri dance is cultural, religious, and spiritual as well as entertaining. Dance is utilized for spiritual connection and storytelling during religious festivals, rituals, and ceremonies. Key aspects of significance:

Devotion Religion

Hinduism and Vaishnavism base Manipuri dance. Ras Lila, where dancers convey Krishna and Radha’s love, is revered.


Manipuri dance and music convey mythological, historical, and cultural tales. This protects and transmits regional oral traditions.

Costumes and Makeup

Manipuri dancers use bright clothes and complex makeup. The Manipuri-inspired costumes enhance the dance’s beauty and grace. Some Manipuri dancewear and makeup:

Cymbals and drums

Male Ras Lila and Nata Sankirtana dancers perform pung and kartal. These instruments add melody and rhythm.


There is no doubt that the traditional dance of Manipur is a celebration of its spiritual essence. For centuries such spiritual knowledge and moves have been imbibed into these dances. A profound meaning is imbued in these dances that only the dance and art lovers can unearth from them.

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