What is Shumang Leela?

1 min read
What is Shumang Leela? Blog Image


The artists of Shumang Leela bear the brunt of the enduring ethnic violence in Manipur which is also jeopardizing the vibrant cultural fabric of the state.

About Shumang Leela

  • It is a traditional form of theatre in Manipur.
  • In this the roles of female artists are all played by male actors and male characters are played by female artists in case of female theatre groups.
  • It was started as a comic genre for royalty and has evolved into a powerful medium for mass education, entertainment, and relaxation. 
  • In this, the roles of women are all played by men, called Nupi Shabis.
  • The female roles are taken up by transgender actors.
  • The tradition is believed to be descended from Lai Haraoba, a ritual of the Meitei community of Manipur.
  • Purpose: The plays provide a vehicle for educating the public about social, political, and economic issues.
  • Types - Shumang Leela is of two types
    • Nupa Shumang Leela – It is Performed only by men
    • Nupi Shumang Leela – It is Performed only by women

What is Lai Haraoba?

  • Lai Haraoba is a religious festival celebrated by the Meitei people who are largely settled in and around Manipur.
  • It is held at neighborhood shrines dedicated to the local umanglai deities.
  • It is observed in the months between February and May-June. 

Q1) Who are the Umang Lais?

The Umang Lais (the sacred deities or sylvan deities) are the only mysterious deities believed to reside in the sacred groves of Manipur and the Meiteis (Manipuris) worshiped and celebrated the Umang Lai Haraoba Festival every year.

Source: From stage to streets: Manipur’s Shumang Leela performers grapple with survival amid ongoing ethnic strife