Let Mangka Grow Taller
The name Mangka, until recently, was known only to a few people who are interested in folk art and Pena, the traditional string musical instrument. Those who have known her have been showering her with words of commendations. Mangka started giving live performances as a child artist on the radio when she was in the eighth standard. Except for a few, many people must have been unaware that this young girl represented the country in the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Radio Song Festival 2014, which was held in Colombo. Mangka was selected along with an artist from Bangalore. Only two of them among a host of artists were picked out to represent India. As expected, Mangka struck a chord with the audience with her performance in the said festival. On her return home after the festival, Mangka was interviewed live over the All India Radio, FM Rainbow channel, from its Mumbai studio. This kind of interview is a rare occurrence in the life of an artist, and is surely testimony to the caliber of the artist. IFP also had carried her interview in last year’s July issue. Our online readers have been sending wishes for Mangka since then.
But Mangka’s feat had largely remained unnoticed by the public until her performance in the opening ceremony of the 8th Manipur Polo International tournament held in November last year. The theme song of the tournament, based on the Meitei mythical horse and penned by B Jayantakumar Sharma, ‘Samaton Ayangba’, which was performed on that day by Mangka went viral on the internet. It is heartening to learn that since then, there have been unprecedented demands for Mangka’s performance from different quarters. As we are told, organisers would print Mangka’s name in the performance programme without any prior information either to Mangka or Lai Hui, the musical ensemble to which she belongs. They would fervently push their demand without any compunction of having printed someone’s name without prior consent of the concerned. Besides, people in positions and power send their emissaries to press their demand for Mangka’s performance, on a date fixed by them in advance. Such proclivity towards her performance, or Lai Hui’s genre of ‘contemporary performance’ of folk music, is encouraging. But the way in which this proclivity is expressed leaves plenty of room to doubt whether it is an expression of their genuine love for the arts or whether it is a display of some coarse elements in play.
Lai Hui and its young artists, and particularly Mangka have reached a milestone in popularising their folk art in our time. As we have seen, it has been Lai Hui’s determined endevour to popularise Pena and its associated performance among the youths, seeking tutelage from different maestros of the instrument from across the state. From a very young age Mangka has learned under gurus like Langathel Thoinu and Khangembam Mangi. Needless to remind that this is a time when her peers are busy running from one tuition center to another, in the rat race to find a foothold in the ‘career’ battleground. Mangka on the other hand has been scaling artistic heights without compromising her formal education. It might not be out of place to add that Lai Hui and Mangka require space to grow to reach greater heights. Let us all give them that space lest our embrace becomes a smothering hold.
Leader Writer: Senate Kh