Centenary of the introduction of Manipuri dance in Santiniketan
Text & pics: Dr. Swaraj Chatterjee
February 26, 2020
The year 2020 is a special year in the history of Santiniketan and among the Manipuri dance fraternity. Introduction of Manipuri dance in Santiniketan has completed 100 years and it is a proud moment for those who are studying or had studied. During 1919, Kala Bhavana was inaugurated with the purpose of teaching and learning of both arts and music. But in 1933 it was separated into two distinguished institutions named as Kala Bhavana and Sangit Bhavana. In 1919, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore introduced Manipuri nritya at Santiniketan after witnessing the mesmerising dance performance of Manipur in Sylhet. The flawless movements of the divine art form were a treat to his eyes and he had requested the king of Tripura, Birendra Kishore Manikya, to send a Manipuri dance teacher to Santiniketan. As a result, Santiniketan received its first Manipuri dance guru Rajkumar Buddhimanto Singh.
First Manipuri dance Guru
Rk Budhimanta Singh
The students and faculty of Manipuri dance section, Sangit Bhavan, Santiniketan
The celebration was conducted at Sangit Bhavana stage on 5th and 6th February 2020 where all the students, faculties, ashramiks, eminent Manipuri gurus and others participated. Guru Devjani Chaliha was the chief guest, while Diyali Lahiri, Subhra Tagore, Madhuri Sinha and Arunabha Roy were the guests of honour.
The first day of the program started with the traditional lighting of the lamp, followed by Rabindra Sangit which was beautifully presented by the students of Sangit Bhavana. This was followed by discussion and sharing of experiences of the eminent guests. Their words changed the entire environment and pulled everyone into that era. After that, the dignitaries released the souvenir. The next segment of the celebration was the performance of the students, where variety of Manipuri dance items like Khamba Thoibi, Maibi Jagoi, Kartal Cholom, Mandila Cholom, Basanta Ras along with Rabindranath Tagore's 'Bhanusingher Padabali' was staged.
The second day of the celebration was divided into two segments. The morning segment had group discussion and a lecture demonstration. Multiple questions were asked by the students and research scholars. After that, in the most fascinating part of the celebration, everyone was able to witness the 100 year old dance steps and movements. Diyali Lahiri showed the young dancer that age is just a number, as her passion and love for dance is as fresh as it was when she was a teenager. The morning session was brightened by the presence of recent Padma Shri awardee Dr. Susobhan Banerjee. The session concluded with the unique song "Ore Grihabasi Khol Dvar Khol", where everyone on stage and off stage joined together and danced with joy.
She is our own, the darling of our hearts, Santiniketan.
In the shadows of her trees we meet in the freedom of her open sky.
Our dreams are rocked in her arms.
Her face is a fresh wonder of love every time we see her,
For she is our own, the darling of our hearts, Santiniketan.
- Rabindranath Tagore