Monday 21 March 2022

Collaborative excellence marks Twelfth Pragjyoti Festival: Part 2 - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

In the session on 'Modern Languages and Literary Studies' in association with Guwahati University, Priti Patel, one of the sought after composers/performers in Manipuri, spoke of working along with television personality and researcher into traditional art, Sadhana Srivastava, who has curated a film (for the SNA) highlighting the perils Manipur's indigenous art forms face in the world of today. Referring to traditional arts fashioned by a people who lived in the lap of nature, who thought of the sounds of the lute as imitating the sound of wind passing through bamboo groves, Priti referred to how raw materials from nature were utilised to fashion an instrument like the Pena (oral teaching) which is like the human voice, tugging at your heart strings with the emotive power of the music produced. Speaking of the Lai Haraoba celebration in the open even today, where the ancient, animistic religion evoking abstract divinity, still very dear to the Meiteis, is restaged - through an elaborate process of awakening divinities existing in the water bodies, by the Maibas and Maibis, worshipping the Mailei Gods impregnated with the spirit of these divinities, and finally lulling them to sleep till the next year - all done to the accompaniment of the Pena. One wonders about the future for now the Pena is becoming a rare instrument. It is the high ritualism which enabled art forms to thrive. Now with rituals compromised, art forms too are in danger.

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