Manipur is a state in northeastern India, with the city of Imphal as its capital. Manipur is sometimes called alternative names such as Kangleipak or Sanaleibak. Manipur literally meaning "A jeweled land" nestle deep within a lush green corner of North East India. It seems much like an exquisite work of art executed by superb hands of Nature and is indeed a state of exquisite natural beauty and splendors, the beauty of which once inspired Mrs. St. Clair Grimwood described it as " A Pretty Place more beautiful than many show places of the world" Late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru paid a fitting tribute by describing it as "Jewel of India". Manipur is bounded by Nagaland to the north, Mizoram to the south, and Assam to the west; Burma lies to its east. The state covers an area of 22,327 square kilometres (8,621 sq mi). Its people include the Meetei, Kuki, Naga, and Pangal peoples, who speak Sino-Tibetan languages.
The detail analysis of Population Census 2011 published by Govt. of India for Manipur state reveal that population of Manipur has increased by 24.50% in this decade compared (2001-2011) to past decade (1991-2001). The density of Manipur state in the current decade is 331 per sq mile.
Manipur is birth place of Polo. This is the place where Rajashree Bhagyachandra created the famous Ras Lila, the classical dance of Manipur, out of his enchanting dream by the grace of Lord Krishna. Her folk dances reveal the mythological concept of creation of Manipur. Having a varied and proud history from the earliest times, Manipur came under the British Rule as a Princely State after the defeat in the Anglo-Manipuri War of 1891. After independence of India in 1947, the Princely State of Manipur was merged in the Indian Union on October 15,1949 and became a full-fledged State of India on the 21th January, 1972 with a Legislative Assembly of 60 seats of which 20 are reserved for Scheduled Tribe and 1 reserved for Scheduled Caste. The State is represented in the Lok Sabha by two members and by one member in the Rajya Sabha.
The people of Manipur include Meitei, Naga, Kuki, Meitei Pangal and other colourful communities which have lived together in complete harmony for centuries. These are the people whose folklore, myths & legends, dances, indigenous games and martial arts, exotic handlooms & handicrafts are infested with the mystique of nature. The wonders has no end in Manipur.
The Meetei ethnic group, represents majority of the population of Manipur state. The language of the Meetei people, Meitei (or Manipuri), is the lingua franca in Manipur. By comparison, indigenous tribal peoples constitute 30% of the state population; they are distinguished by dialects and culture that are often village-based. Manipur's ethnic groups practice a variety of religions.
Manipur has primarily an agrarian economy, with significant hydroelectric power generation potential. It is connected to other areas by daily flights through Imphal airport, the second largest in northeastern India.
Its own art-forms and cultural expressions and ramifications distinctly showcase Manipur to the World. Its famous classical dance remains unique in all Manipuri dance forms whether it's folk, classical or modern and has a different style and gesture of movement. Love of art and beauty is inherent in the people and it is difficult to find a Manipuri girl who cannot sing or dance. Manipuris are artistic and creative by nature. This has found expression in their handloom and handicraft products, which are world-famous for their designs, ingenuity, colorfulness and usefulness. Each ethnic group has its own distinct culture and tradition deeply embedded in its dances, music, customary practices and pastimes.
Ras Lila:-The Ras lila, the epitome of Manipuri classical dance is inter-woven through the celestial and eternal love of Radha and Krishna as has been described in the Hindu scriptures and reveals the sublime and transcendental love of Krishna and Radha and the Gopies' devotion to the Lord. It is generally performed in an enclosure in front of the temple throughout the night and watched with a deep sense of devotion. Ras performances are seasonal and varied and performed at the temple of Shree Shree Govindajee in Imphal on the nights of Basanta Purnima, Sarada Purnima and Kartik Purnima and at local temples later. As to the composition, the performance is a combination of solo, duet and group dances. This highly stylised form of dance has sublimity, subtlety and grace. The richness of the costumes gives lustre to the beauty of the art.
Nupa Pala:-Nupa Pala which is otherwise known as Kartal Cholom or Cymbal Dance is a characteristic of the Manipuri style of dance and music. The initial movements of this dance are soft and serene , gradually gathering momentum. It is a group performance of male partners, using cymbals and wearing snow white ball-shaped large turbans, who sing and dance to the accompaniment of Mridanga, an ancient classical drum "Pung" as it is called in Manipuri. The Nupa Pala acts as a prologue to the Ras Lila dances, besides an independent performance too, in connection with religious rites.
Pung Cholom:-Pung or Manipuri Mridanga is the soul of Manipuri Sankritana music and Classical Manipuri Dance. It assumes an important ritual character, an indispensable part of all social and devotional ceremonies in Manipur,-the instrument itself becoming an object of veneration. Pung Cholom is performed as an invocatory number preceding the Sankirtana and Ras Lila. It is highly refined classical dance number characterised by the modulation of sound from soft whisper to a thunderous climax.
There is the interplay of intricate rhythms and cross rhythms with varying markings of time from the slow to the quick with graceful and vigorous body movements leading to ecastic heights.
Maibi Dance:-During the festival of Lai-Haraoba which is an annual ritual festival of the Meiteis, the inhabitants of the valley of Manipur, the Maibis, the priestesses considered to be spritural mediums, trace through their dances the whole concept of cosmogony of the Meitei people and describe their way of life. Beginning with the process of creation, they show the construction of houses and various occupations of the people to sustain themselves. It is a kind of re-living of the way of life of the past.
Khamba Thoibi Dance:-Khamba Thoibi dance is a duet of male and female partners, a dance of dedication to the sylvan deity, Thangjing of Moirang , is the depiction of the dance performed by Khamba and Thoibi, the hero and heroine of the Moirang episode of the hoary past. This, with the "Maibi" dance (Priestess dance) , the "Leima Jagoi" etc. form the "Laiharaoba" dance. The "Laiharaoba" dance , in many ways, is the fountainhead of the modern Manipuri dance form.This dance is a part and parcel of Moirang Lai-Haraoba. It is belived that the legendary hero - Khamba and heroin - Thoibi danced together before the Lord Thangjing, a celebrated deity of Moirang, a village in the South-West of Manipur which is known for its rich cultural traditions, for peace and prosperity of the land.
Manipur enjoys a distinct place amongst the Handloom zones in India. Handloom industry is the largest cottage industry in the State. This industry has been flourishing since time immemorial. One of the special features of the industry is that women are the only weavers. According to the National handloom Census Reports 1988 there are about 2.71 lakh looms in Manipur.
It is believed that Chitnu Tamitnu, a goddess, discovered the cotton and she also produced the yarn. When the threads are ready for weaving she arranged the required equipments and constructed the 'Sinnaishang' (work shed). It is also believed that the goddess Panthoibee once saw a spider producing fine threads and making cowebs and from it she found the idea of weaving and thus started weaving.
Most of the weavers who are famous for their skill and intricate designing are from Wangkhei, Bamon Kampu, Kongba, Khongman, Utlou etc. in respect of fine silk items. The rest of the villages of the State producing all varieties of fabrics. Tribal shawls are all varieties of fabrics. Tribal shawls with exotic designs and motifs are the products of five hill districts of the State. Fabrics and Shawls of Manipur are in great demand in the national and international market.
Today, major handloom production activities are undertaken by three Government organizations namely
Manipur Development Society (MDS)
Manipur Handloom and Handicrafts Development Corporation (MHHDC)
Manipur State Handloom Weavers Co-operative Society (MSHWCS).
Bihar became the first state in India to have separate web page for every city and village in the state on its website www.brandbihar.com (Now www.brandbharat.com)
See the record in Limca Book of Records 2012 on Page No. 217