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Guru Rajkumar Achouba Singh (1936-2023)
- Sinam Basu Singh

August 31, 2023

Guru Rajkumar Achouba Singh
The renowned Guru of Lai-Haraoba and Thang-Ta (martial art), Rajkumar Achouba (Achoubisana) left for his heavenly abode on August 19, 2023. A milestone of Manipuri culture, Guru Rajkumar Achouba Singh's demise is a great loss for Manipuri culture as well as Indian culture.

Guru Rajkumar Achouba SinghGuru Rajkumar Achouba Singh

Rajkumar Achouba Singh was born on 5th December 1936 at Imphal, son of R.K. Sanahal Singh and Ch. Mangisija Devi. Achouba was brought up in an environment of an artistic family and he nurtured arts since his early childhood. He was excellent in academics too as he passed Intermediate Science under Guwahati University in 1961. Guru Achouba learned various art forms of Manipur from different Gurus. He learned the fundamentals of Manipuri dance from Ch. Suchindra Singh and R.K. Akesana Singh of Bijoy Govinda Rasdhari in 1985. And further he learned dance from Guru Maisnam Amubi Singh and Guru Haobam Atomba Singh. Academically he completed the Diploma Course in 1972, Post graduate Lai-Haraoba in 1974 and Post graduate Raas in 1979. Rather than dance, Achouba learned Manipuri martial arts (Thang-Ta) from Gurus like Th. Amuba Singh of Heirok, R.K. Gulamjat Sana of Kangjabi, L. Damu Singh of Naoremthong, Yaima Singh of Naoremthong, Th. Ibohal Singh of Thokchom Leikai, R.K. Sanahal (Aminsana) of Singjamei Thongam Leikai and R.K. Kanglen Sana of Yaiskul.

Sinam Basu Singh with Guru Rajkumar Achouba Singh
With Guruji

He was a regular contributor of articles on Manipuri dances and heritage of Manipur. He was the author of 'Pena Anoi,' a book on Manipuri music. During his lifetime he was associated with many cultural departments like EZCC Kolkata, NEZCC Dimapur, Art and Culture Manipur, Manipur State Kala Akademi etc. Govindajee Temple Board of Manipur had appointed him as Bor Senapati since 1998. He was visiting Guru of Lai-Haraoba of Acharya Class of Govt. Dance College. Jawaharlal Nehru Manipur Dance Academy, Imphal, a constituent of Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi, had appointed him as Principal (Pradhan Guru) on May 24, 2007. He was the founder director of 'Anoi Sindam Pham.'

Guru Rajkumar Achouba Singh receiving the Padma Shri
Receiving the Padma Shri

For his tireless contribution in the field of Manipuri arts, he was bestowed with various awards like Manipur State Kala Akademi award in 1998, Padma Shri in 2010 by President of India, Nritya Ratna in 2013 by Manipur Sahitya Parishad.

A condolence meeting was held on August 24, 2023 at P.A.L. complex, Imphal, by the artists of Progressive Artiste Laboratory. A two minute silence was observed to honour the departed soul.

Sinam Basu Singh
Sinam Basu Singh, SNA Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva awardee and 'Top' Grade Artiste by Prasar Bharati New Delhi, is a Manipuri classical dancer, choreographer, teacher and PhD research scholar.

Achoubi Sana's passing is a great loss to eveyone who values intangible cultural heritage and his great contribution to the understanding of Meitei cultural traditions, espcecially Lai Haroba. My heartfelt condolences to his wonderful family whom I had the opportunity to meet in 2020 at his home on my last visit to Imphal. In 1974 and 76, he was my guide and friend enabling me to attend daily classes with Ranjani Maibi assisted by Kumar Maibi and also visit many local Lai Haroba festivals. Moving on bicycles throught the monsoon season at a time when Manipur was cut off from outside visitors, it was a great privilege to be allowed there as a foreigner to study  Ras at the Akademi, Kartal Cholom with Guru Thangjam Chaoba Singh and Achoubi Sana made my dance practice and research on Lai Haroba possible. May his memory be a blessing for all. It was my great good fortune to have known him.
- Sharon Lowen (Dec 24, 2023).

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