The Traditional Dress of Manipuri Dance

Manipuri is a style of dance created in northeast India. It is based on themes from Vishnu Purans and involves intricate footwork along with graceful movement. There are several styles of Manipuri; each style requires a specific attire.

  1. Khamba Thoibi

    • Khamba Thoibi tells the story of a commoner, Khamba, who falls in love with a princess named Thoibi. At first Thoibi's father is not pleased with the union; later he changes his mind and the two are free to be in love. The dancer portraying Khamba wears a white dhoti (a long piece of cloth, wrapped around the waist and legs), kurta (a long shirt that falls below the knees), and turban, while Thoibi wears a phanek (similar to a sarong).


    • The Rakhual dance is heavily based on the life of Lord Krishna, particularly depicting his relationship with his boyhood friends. It is performed by boys wearing colorful churas (peacock feathers wired on the head), koknaams (a gauze worn over the head) and Feichoms (a saffron colored dress).

    Ras Lila

    • Ras Lila is one of the most classical forms of Manipuri. It tells the story of Krishna and his lover, Radha. The female costumes are elaborate and intricate; Radha and her cow-herd girlfriends, the Gopis, wear long, cylindrical shaped skirts. Radha is highlighted in a green skirt while the Gopis are draped in red. Krishna typically wears a dhoti.

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