Shumang Leela: Where Even Feminine Roles Are Played By Male Artistes
| Brown Nongmaithem, Imphal, Manipur - 28 Feb 2019

Manipur Governor Najma Heptulla Inaugurates Shumang Leela Festival 


The unique feature of Shumang Leela Groups comprising exclusively male artistes is, where even feminine roles are played by the male artistes.  

Brown Nongmaithem, Bureau Chief, Indian Observer Post

Imphal, Feb 28, 2019: “Shumang Leela Acts as a Catalyst in bringing Peace and Harmony in Society,” said Governor of Manipur Dr. Najma Heptulla while inaugurating the 47th Manipur Shumang Leela Festival 2018-19 here in Imphal, today. The festival is being organised by Manipur State Kala Akademi, Imphal and will continue till 16 March, 2019. 

Speaking as Chief Guest of the inaugural function, Dr. Najma Heptulla said that the present day Shumang Leelas have been trying to focus on the issues of moral values, unity and integrity as well as brotherhood and friendship among various communities in the State with the objective of strengthening the very social fabric which binds the people of Manipur together and thus acts as a catalyst in bringing about peace and harmony in society. 

She said that in the earlier days, Shumang Leela Groups contributed to the promotion of humanism, tolerance, confidence, devotion, truth and justice through their performances.

Shumang Leela activists should remember the contribution made by the Shumang Leela groups for the betterment of society besides adopting Shumang Leela as their livelihood, she added. 

While congratulating all the award winners, the Governor said that it will be worthwhile to recall the origin of Shumang Leela while organising the festival. She said ‘Shumang Leela’ stands for ‘Open Air Performance’ generally performed in the courtyards of residential houses. Originally, it started as a comic genre presented before the kings and noblemen which ultimately developed into the present form of courtyard enacted play.

Stating that Shumang Leela has evolved over the generations not only into a popular entertainment medium for the common man, she further said that Shumang Leela has become a powerful medium for mass education as many stories of mythologies have been successfully staged through this medium. 

Expressing her hope that the present Shumang Leela festival will provide a good opportunity for the performers to showcase their artistic talents, she said, it will also help in standardizing the present Manipuri Shumang Leelas on the whole.

She added that the unique feature of Shumang Leela Groups comprising exclusively male artistes where even feminine roles are played by male artistes has seen coming up of groups comprising entirely female artistes and have gained prominent presence in many festivals. 

Considering the difficult phases of the State, she said, it is our responsibility, irrespective of caste, creed, religion and language to preserve and promote the unity and integrity of the State.

The Governor appealed to all sections of the people of Manipur including the Shumang Leela groups to contribute their best in their respective capacities with sincerity, discipline and confidence for ensuring peace and prosperity in the State. 

Lauding the relentless efforts of the Manipur State Kala Akademi (MSKA) in promoting art and culture of the State by instituting awards and scholarships over the years, the Governor said that the festival thus organized will help in enhancing the standard of Shumang Leelas in Manipur.

The Governor also urged other performers to rise to the challenge and strive for winning recognition and prizes in the coming festivals.

 M. Lakshmikumar Singh, Commissioner (Art & Culture), said that Shumang Leela is a part of life of every Manipuri. In the past it has been taken as an entertainment but now has become an art form.

There is a quality change in Shumang Leela comparing the past Shumang Leela presentation. We need encouragement in every field to promote Shumang Leela, he added

As part of the function, a Souvenier of the 47th All Manipur Shumang Leela Festival 2018-19 was also released by Governor. Prizes were distributed to the Medal Winners of the 46th All Manipur Shumang Leela Festival 2017-18.

Altogether twenty-one (21) Shumang Leela groups comprising of twelve (12) Female Shumang Leela groups and nine (9) Male groups are participating in the festival. The function was attended by Renowned Artists, Shumang Leela Groups and Art Lovers of the State. 

Second Photo - (File) 11th Shumang Leela Ningtham Kumei / Winter Festival at Iboyaima Shumang Leela Sanglen, Imphal, January 30 2014 Courtesy - 

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