Lai Haraoba, Manipur
Lai Haraoba means the 'Festival of Gods'. The traditional Lai Haraoba dance, which enacts the ‘Creation of the Universe’, was initially a part of the Lai Haraoba festival. The dance is traditionally presented before the shrines of Umang Lai, the ancestral God of the Meiteis, at the village temples. The principal performers are the maibas and maibi, meaning priest and priestesses, who are considered to be embodiments of purity. They invoke the deity through their repetitive and rhythmic movements, which are highly symbolic. It is essentially a ritualistic dance and is considered to be the precursor of the classical Manipuri dance form as seen today. The maibas and maibis, through their dance, trace the philosophy of the Meitei people and describe evocatively their way of life.