Generally, it is performed either as part of Laihaoraoba or as an independent performance. For performing this dance, male candidates pick up their partners at dance arena. The female dancers decorate themselves with colourful dress and flowers in their hands.
Story of Khamba and Thoibi Dance
Khamba belonged to the Moirang clan. Before the death of his parents he was handed to his maternal uncle who was neither affectionate towards the boy nor took proper care of him.
Khamba did not receive proper education but he excelled in other activities like sports and games which was a cause of envy for other boys. He then took up the job of a milkman delivering milk in houses and helping in the household work of the chieftains. He had access to the palace of Chinghuba who had a beautiful daughter named Thoibi and gradually Khamba and Thoibi fell in love with each other.
Khamba was loved by the king who ruled over all the smaller chiefs of that place. When the king came to know about Khamba's secret love, he instructed Chinghuba to marry his daughter with Khamba.
Chinghuba could not disobey the order but did not want the marriage to materialize. He wished to marry his daughter to Chief Nongban of Angom clan. Nongban, on the other hand was Khamba's rival. Chinghuba and Nongban together tried to kill Khamba several times. The king had once ordered Khamba to fight against a mad elephant which he successfully accomplished but was gravely hurt. While Khamba lay bedridden Thoibi went to nurse him. During this time, the love that they bore for each other gave vent to their feelings.
After this, Thoibi approaches her father where the later rebukes her and hit her with a club. Thoibi faints but later regains her consciousness. Her raged father then sends her to exile. Khamba presents her a club for her protection. Thoibi goes to reside in the house of the chieftain of Burma. She stays there with the daughter of the chieftain, who mistreats her. Meanwhile, in the Moirang village, a tiger was destroying the cattle and the crops hence both Khamba and Nongban were sent to hunt the tiger. While fighting Nongban was badly injured and died. Khamba accomplished his task and successfully killed the tiger. The king pleased with his service gets both Khamba and Thoibi married.
Khamba admires and praises his wife before his friends. His friends jokingly instigate him to examine the loyalty of his wife. Khamba prompted by their words approaches his wife in disguise. He then behaves with her in an indecent way. Thoibi gets shocked and alarmed at the behaviour of this unknown man and before Khamba could reveal his identity she thrusts a spear into his heart. This leads to the tragic end of Khamba and their love story.
Performance of Khamba and Thoibi Dance
Khamba and Thoibi dance is divided into various parts. The first part of the dance portrays Khamba's growing up years, his meeting with Thoibi and how he falls in love with her. It stretches till Khamba's fight against a mad elephant, his bedridden condition and Thoibi's care for him. The most celebrated and artistic dance in this episode is the duet dance that Khamba and Thoibi perform in front of Lord Shiva temple.
The second episode known as 'Loikum Loikab' enacts how Thoibi gets hit by her father, her exile, her protection in a club provided by Khamba and how Nongban dies. It ends with Khamba and Thoibi's marriage. The most important dance in this part is that performed by Thoibi in the court of the Burmese Chief.
The last part of the drama begins with the depiction of the happy married life of Khamba and Thoibi and ends with the tragic end of Khamba and their love story.
With time the divine love of Radha and Lord Krishna got transmuted into the tragic love story of Khamba and Thoibi. The episodes, folk-lores and songs enacted in the dramas portray the love story of the couple.
|More Articles in Folk Dances of Manipur (4)|