Manipuri Nata Sankritan Mahajagya Guru Leimapokpam Lakpati Singh‘An obedient disciple and a path follower of his Gurus’

Yumnam Suren Wangkhei

Leimapokpam Lakpati Singh
To be a professionally expert person in any field of our life without the lead of a guide or a mentor is impossible. It helps them to achieve their goals and to do things in their best possible way. Only the devotion and sincerity of the disciple towards their gurus will ultimately make them a successful learner. Even though the learner has become whatsoever big in life, he/she never stops to respect their guides or Aadi Gurus. This is a tradition which has been going on from the very beginning. The meaning of guru itself is the one who removes the ignorance of disorder from our lives and teaches us how to live a happy life. There are many Gurus in one’s life but the importance of his/her first Guru is something different. They have been given a prominent place by their obedient disciple. Guru Leimapokpam Lakpati Singh, a maestro and a mentor of Nata Sankritana was born in Manipur, at Kwakeithel Nganapi Thong Mapal, western side of Imphal. He is now 83, he still follows the finest path of his Guru, Shree Khangembam Gulapi Singh (1919-81) who guided and nurtured him in the field of Nata Sankritana. Guru Leimapokpam Lakpati Singh did his ‘Boriba’ (a ritual of visiting his/her Guru for the first time with some special offerings) when he was only 17/18. From the day onward of Guru Boriba he never says the exact name of his Guru individually or in any conversation with others. This is really a very unique and special ritual practiced in Manipur which is very precious for every ‘Sishya’ or disciple. This is the culture inherited by our forefathers and it's still preserving by the present generation.
Apart from others, Guru Leimapokpam Lakpati Singh is serving the institution called ‘Gulapi Nata Sankritana Academy’ as a director. It was founded in the year 1993, the very same year, they have started a kind of ritual for Guru called ‘Guru Kritan Seba’ here the tribute is given to Guru Gulapi Singh including all the renowned and dedicated artists of Nata Sankirtana, Manipuri Jagoi, Bashak (a kind of traditional art form of singing in the name of Lord), Khongjom Prava, Wari Liba (Story-telling), Amaiba Amaibi Jagoi (priest and priestess dancing form) all are paid homage also celebrating their works and sacrifices. The Guru kritan Seba is celebrated during the Mid –October (mera gi 14 ni panba, thanil) of every year, which was organized by the Gulapi Nata Sankritana Academy with traditional folk song, Nata Sankritana Program,etc because the same day Guru Gulapi Singh himself left for the heavenly abode .May his soul rest in peace. There were times when Guru was worshipped and paid gratitude. The term Guru-Sishya parampara or lineage or teacher-disciple relationship which centered around the transmission of teachings from a guru to a disciple has become shattered but there are some who still exist. They are the true teacher and mentor who sets an example for the future, inspiring the future generation to maintain the culture and tradition of Guru- Sishya Parampara till the end. Likewise, Guru Leimapokpam Lakpati Singh is one of them whose works are precious and incomparable to all.
Guru Leimapokpam Lakpati Singh was born on 21st of October, Saturday, 1939 at Kwakeithel Nganapi Thong Mapal, Imphal West, Manipur. But as a custom, the exact date of birth of Guru is replaced by 12th of Oct, 1953 as his academic age. Guru Lakpati belongs to a culturally rich background family, all his parents and grandparents were mostly the artists of Nata Sankirtana or other art forms. He used to hear songs and folk songs from an early age. His father Shree Leimapokpam Hirachandra Singh (1891-1961) was a very famous artist and mentor of Nata Sankirtana. He was also a guide of Guru Gulapi Singh and he was always honored and respected by the Guru maintaining the respect of being his Guru. In the year, 1935 king Churachand Singh (1891-1982) awarded him for his outstanding work of pioneering the Nata Sankirtana in Manipur Language. And his mother was also an artist of Nata Sankirtana, her name was Ibemhal, surname Elangbam. There is an interesting story behind the name Lakpati given to Guru Lakpati Singh by his father. It was when Ibemhal was expecting his son, Lakpati Singh within 5 months his father prospered a lot. It was like all the blessings showered upon them by God to their family. He was so successful in those days. Even they have become so rich at that time. So, the name itself is very precious and blessed to Guru Lakpati Singh.
An Artist of Nata Sankirtana like Guru Lakpati Singh is a born artist at the same time a very good student. He always stood first or second in his final examinations. Simultaneously he was very fond of learning music and culture because at the time the Manipuri traditional art forms like ‘Nupa Pala’ ‘Angng gi khubak Ishei’ were very famous. He was always taking part in it and people used to like him and his performances. Predominantly, from time to time his works were immensely appreciated because during those days he never missed to participate in any culture and religious program activities of Nata Sankirtana. In 1974, when he was 35 Guru Lakpati Singh joined the Jawaharlal Nehru Manipur Dance Academy. However, he retired from the post of lecturer/teacher in 2013 as the grande Guru and from 11th of May, 2015 Guru Lakpati Singh is a visiting Guru at the same academy till now.
The name of the Gurus whom Guru Lakpati Singh learned Nata Sankirtana and other related art forms are:
1. Sangeet Ratna Guru Khagembam Gulapi Singh, Keishamthong Elangbam Leikai.
2. Former Jai Patra of Sri Govindaji , Laishram Tolpishak Singh, Kwakeithel Laishram Leikai.
3. Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee , Guru Sagolsem Shem kalidaman Singh Thangmeiban Lourung Purel Leikai.
4. Padma Shree Awardee, Guru kongrailatpam Ibomcha Sharma ( Abhiram Saba) , Kwakeithel Mayai koibi.
5. Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee, Guru Thangjam Chaoba Singh, Khurai Thangjam Leikai.
6. Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee , Guru Maibam Ibungohal Singh, Ningom Thongjao.
7. Guru khaidem Biramangol Singh, Kwakeithel Thiyam Leikai.
8. Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee Guru Laishram Ibohalmacha Singh, Kwakeithel Laishram Leikai.
9. Guru Toijam Nitai Singh, Sangeet Ratna, Wangkhei Thambalkhong.
10. Guru Okram Tomba Singh, Singjamei Khongnang Pheidekpi.
11. Guru Thounaojam Kunjo Singh, Nongmeibung.
12. Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee, Guru Shrimati Mongjam Subadani Devi, Lilando Lampak.
13. Guru Hanjabam Nandakishare Sharma, Vyakaran Shastri, Wangkhei Ningthem Pukhri Mapal and
14. Sangeet Natak Academy Awardee Guru Sorokhaibam Naran Singh, Kongpal respectively.
To be contd