Lai Haraoba[1] is a festival associated with the Meitei people celebrated to please the Umang Lai, the traditional deities of Sanamahism.[2][3] Translated, Lai Haraoba means merry making of the Gods in Meiteilon.[4] In this festival, the people worship Sanamahi, Pakhangba, Nongpok Ningthou and around 364 Umang Lais or the deities of the forest. This festival is organized as a piece of memory of the contribution of Gods in creating the Universe and also it is celebrated in the memory of the development of plants, animals and human beings.[5]

Four types of Lai Haraoba are prevalent in the Meitei society, namely, Kanglei Haraoba, Moirang Haraoba, Kakching Haraoba and Chakpa Haraoba.[6] Kanglei Haraoba is performed in many parts of the valley of Manipur. Moirang Haraoba is only in Moirang, Kakching Haraoba is held in Kakching and Chakpa Haraoba is celebrated at Andro, Phayeng, Sekmai, Koutruk, Khuukhul, Leimaram and Tairenpokpi.[7]

Laiching Jagoi, a ritualistic dance performed by Maibis (local girls and youths)during the Lai Haraoba festival
Lai Lamthokpa or outing of the gods is organised during the Lai Haraoba festival


Thougal Jagoi, a dance performed during the Lai Haraoba festival

Lai Haraoba (Old Manipuri: ꯂꯥꯢ ꯍꯂꯥꯎꯄ, romanized: lai ha-lau-pa, Old Manipuri: ꯂꯥꯢ ꯍꯔꯥꯎꯕ, romanized: lai ra-lau-ba) is a ritualistic festival of the Meiteis observed since ancient times.[8] It is a ritual enactment of the creation myth. It mirrors the entire culture of Manipur and depicts the close affinities between the hill and plain people. It is a combination of religious recitations, traditional music and dance, traditional social values and ancient cultural aspects.[9]

The rituals within the festival are the same except in some items or hymns, such as ikouba, ikourol, and yakairol at the beginning and mikon thagonba, ngaprum tanba at the end of the festival. In the performances, the evolution story with the amorous love-affairs of Nongpok Ninghthou and Panthoibi is depicted and played equally in all kinds of lai haraoba.[10] According to folklore, the gods held the first Lai Haraoba on the Koubru Hill so that their descendants would imitate them by performing the same rites.

Lai Haraoba IsheiEdit

Lai Haraoba Ishei is a famous folk song played mainly during Lai Haraoba. This song contains lyrics with veiled references to erotic mysticism.[11][12] The main quality of the song is the rhythm in its tune.[13]

The pena, a musical instrument used in the festival

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Samson, Kamei (2015). "Social Change among the Tribes of Manipur Valley: A Case Study of Rongmei". Sociological Bulletin. 64 (3): 356–374. ISSN 0038-0229.
  2. ^ "TBI Blogs: How Manipur's Festivals & Traditions Are Intrinsically Linked to Its Sporting Heritage". Retrieved 5 May 2022.
  3. ^ Ayyappapanicker, K.; Sahitya Akademi (1997). Medieval Indian Literature: An Anthology. Sahitya Akademi. p. 330. ISBN 978-81-260-0365-5.
  4. ^ Acharya, Amitangshu; Soibam Haripriya (27 July 2007). "Respect to foster unity in cultural mosaic - festival/lai haraoba". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 3 February 2013. Retrieved 5 November 2008.
  5. ^ "Lai Haraoba Festival of Manipur". Retrieved 5 May 2022.
  6. ^ "LAI HARAOBA – THE MOST IMPORTANT FESTIVAL (Merry Making of Umanglai) - Imphal Times". Retrieved 5 May 2022.
  7. ^ "5 facts to know about 'Lai Haraoba' the ancient dance form of Manipur!". Retrieved 5 May 2022.
  8. ^ "Rich traditions seek to revive Manipur's Lai Haraoba festival". Retrieved 5 May 2022.
  9. ^ "Workshop on making of "Laipot-Senpot" of Umang Lai Haraoba kicks off". Retrieved 5 May 2022.
  10. ^ Allen, N. J. (1999). "Review of The Pleasing of the Gods: Meitei Lai Haraoba". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. 62 (1): 160–161. ISSN 0041-977X.
  11. ^ MCDUIE-RA, DUNCAN (2012). "The 'North-East' Map of Delhi". Economic and Political Weekly. 47 (30): 69–77. ISSN 0012-9976.
  12. ^ Devi, Khwairakpam Renuka (2011). "REPRESENTATION OF THE PRE-VAISHNAVITE CULTURE OF THE MEITEIS: "CHEITHAROL KUMPAPA" OF MANIPUR". Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. 72: 501–508. ISSN 2249-1937.
  13. ^ "Lai Haraoba Ishei". 7 June 2005. Retrieved 5 November 2008.
  • Parratt, Saroj Nalini; John Parratt (1997). The Pleasing of the Gods: Meitei Lai Haraoba. Vikas Publishing House.

Further readingEdit

  • Kshetrimayum, Otojit. (2014). Ritual, Politics and Power in North East India: Contexualising the Lai Haraoba of Manipur. New Delhi: Ruby Press & Co.