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Raasleela: The Grand Bishnupriya Manipuri Festival

The Bishnupriya Manipuri people celebrates Durga Puja, and other festivals like Janmastami, Holi, and Sankranti with much fanfare and excitement. On the line of it, the community has its own festivals like Raasleela, Rathyatra, Merameri and door-to-door-begging as a part of Dolyatra.

By BN Sinha, New Delhi

Sri Krishna Raasleela is observed with great fanfare and enthusiasm in almost every Bishnupriya Manipuri village in Assam and Tripura. BM community is known to be the worshiper of Lord Krishna.

Rathyatra is one of the major festivals that BM community observes. Every BM individual is well acquainted with the terms like Raasdhari, Sutradhari, Duar, Mathang etc. which are the integral characters of Raasyatra apart from Krishna, Radha and Gopis. Raasyatra generally falls on the fullmoon of the Kartik month of Saka calender which is better known as Raaspurnima.

This year it falls on the Saturday 24th Nov. In order to perform Raasleela, the rehearsals generally take place much before the D day. All the participants are well dressed with traditional Polais and with Nupurs and gold ornaments etc. The program usually starts in the late evening and whole night Sri Krishna Raasleela is performed with beautiful dances and songs.

The corollary of Raasleela is so strong that every Bishnupriya Manipuri can croon at least few lines: “ kini kini baje, nupuro runu jhunu baje” or “ kalindi pulin bone kunjo bone sajo re”. Furthermore they might be aware of a dance step like “ ghintein -ta kkhit-ta ddhin-ta”. The program finally ends with Sri Krishna-Radha jugal aarati. And on that special day the participants are considered as real gods rather than mere artists.

Raasleela is definitely the most important festival the BM community observes. But the intensity is certainly plummeting day by day as there is dearth of disciples of dakula, eshalpa, raasdhari, sutadhari, etc. Though the reason for scarcity is not only the lack of interest in the youngsters; there are other inevitable reasons also like employment opportunities etc.

Futhermore, it not very clear to the BM community that which is our major festival, the one like Teej to Punabis, Durga puja to Bengalies and Chhat puja to the Biharies as Rathyatra is also celebrated as a major festival specially in the areas like Patharkandi, Dullabhchherra, the regions of Kushiyara valley .

Though Durgapuja is celebrated by the urban BMs of Silchar and Tripura nevertheless other festivals are also celebrated with great excitement like Janmastami, Holi , Sankranti etc. not to mention a special BM youth fest Merameri which takes place on the eve of Makar Sankranti. There are other typical BM customs like begging door to door as a part of Dolyatra,and the customary play of Dosh pochis after the Chaitra Sankranti.

It is a known fact that in the era of GSM , Orkut , Beyonce and T20, BM community has also started finding itself compatible to the emerging cosmopolitan culture of
India wherein occasions like New Year and Valentines Day are celebrated with much fanfare and enthusiasm irrespective of caste and community and modern BMs are also familiar with the Ricky Martins, Enrique Igliciouses, Norah Jhons and Shakiras notwithstanding the BM Gen-X also have not forgotten to compose and sing songs which says
“ aaho aaho amar emare mingal korik,
jaat hanore habihane tuliya goje korik”



  1. Hi BN,

    The best of all write up in the blog..Thanks for such a brilliant is a gift to all from ur side on Raas Purnima..Thanks once again..


  2. Wow BN,

    Wonderful information, and well written.

    The best Raash happens when the Radha and Krishna are only 6 - 10 years old and they dance with all the gopies surrounding them. after the Raash finishes they all cry and part.

  3. really a nice write up on our festivals...

    here's a article on the 165th Maha-Ras at Juramandav Bangladesh, that was celebrated in a grand way -


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