A friend of mine told me to check out this picture of the deities in Manipur – they are so beautiful! I was thinking about their unique Manipuri dress and where the unusual design might have come from, when I remembered that I have a book on Manipuri dance. This outfit is a replica of the traditional costume used for the Manipuri Rasa Lila dance. It is believed that the design of the costumes was originally conceived by Raja Bhagyachandra (1763-1798) who saw a divine vision of the rasa lila in his dream and reproduced the clothing he saw accordingly. Over the years, the costumes have become more decorative. Designers have also gradually stiffened the skirt more and more to give it its fixed shape.
In 2005 I visited the temple in Navadwip run by the Manipuri devotees who cooked us an amazing Manipuri feast and gave us a demonstration of their traditonal martial arts.
The deities at the Navadwip temple – Radha Krsna and at the bottom, Sri Gopaldeva – the picture is really bad but you can Radharani has her hands in a unique dancing pose.
This picture also reminded me of how lucky I was to attend a program in New York last year with Bhakti Svarupa Damodar Swami. It was my second day there and I was feeling very jetlagged, but as he sang the bhajan ‘Gay Gaura Madhur Svare’ so beautifully, I felt my tiredness lift; as he spoke I was touched by his humility, sincerity and intelligence. He invited everyone at the program to come to Manipur and visit the new temple and cultural centre they were building at the time. I wonder if I will ever get there. For now it’s off to Vrindavan – goodbye for three weeks little blog…