A Portrait of Three Young Pena Singers from Phayeng, Manipur

April 29th 2023
Northeast India
Archive of the future
Field research
Poetry, myths and legends
Wisdom Keepers

Lai-Haraoba is one of the most important ritual for the Meitei Community of Manipur

It is a ritual performed as a form of paying homage to the indigenous deities of Manipur collectively called the ‘Umang Lai’. The ritual is conducted for seven to nine days depending on the particular deity of a clan or region. During these days, the community comes together along with Shamans called Amaiba, Amaibi and Pena Singer to narrate tales of cosmological myths, establishment of civilisations and indigenous ways of living.

Pena Singers play an important role in Lai-haraoba. It is almost impossible to perform this ritual without the presence of the Pena singers.

Due to modern lifestyle and gradual ignorance from the modern generation towards these native rituals, the number of new generation willing to engage in learning or mastering the indigenous instrument had decreased for the past few decades. However, many present youngsters has come forward with new wave of enthusiasm to reconnect with their rich cultural past.