My Musings On “Potloi” – Manipuri Wedding And Ras Leela Costume

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Manipuri Bride in Wedding Costume (photo Source :12bubbles.com)

 

The beautiful bridal wear potloi is the wedding dress of Manipuri brides. This stunning costume was originally introduced by Maharaj Bhagya Chandra of Manipur, India. During his reign, he used to organize Ras Leela Dance where the potlois were seen worn out by the Gopis and Shrimati Radhika . And, it is believed that that was the time when potloi had come into popularity due to its elegance and uniqueness. Later, the Manipuri Meiteis, who follow vaishnavaism, started to use this as the bridal wedding dress.

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Manipuri Rasa Leela Dance (Photo source e-pao.net)

 

What Manipuri brides wear in their wedding day in present days had actually undergone a lot of changes since its inception during the reign of Maharaj Bhagya Chandra according to the “Cultural History of Manipuri: Sija Laioibi and the Mahara” by Dr. Jamini Devi. This book contains the whole detail about Potloi and the best part of it is that it had been translated into English by Sheela Devi Chaudhary. So, people who want to know the beautiful culture of the Manipuris and especially, about the stories related with the potloi, could go through this book. Perhaps, these stories will make people aware that from where and how this amazing design of wedding costume gets its inspiration and probably, this will definitely give you some vivid ideas and clues to our generation and the generations to come. So, let us respect and preserve this beautiful traditional wedding and Rasa Lila Costume of the Manipuris of India.

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Latest Designs of Potloi (photo source e-pao.net)

 

Born and brought up in Assam, India in a Vaishnava Hindu Manipuri family since my childhood this Manipuri Costume of Rasa Lila has allured me pretty much. And, I always wanted to know about it. But, for the first time while I was a kid I have seen my aunt wearing it in her wedding day. I still remember my classmates and friends from other Indian communities used to ask me about this dress and more curiously they used to ask me about how a girl could move or stand or sit while she in potloi. Because, it’s kind of a skirt that covers right from the top of the waist to toe and it looks heavy and oversized as well. Apparently though, I was curious too that time I had also no clue over this whole matter. But, yes after the experience of wearing potloi in my own wedding now I have some answer.  Though it is heavy, still one can manage to move and make slow steps as well, otherwise, how it would be possible to make those beautiful and difficult dance steps in Rasa Leela after wearing this Manipuri Rasa Leela Costume.

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Close up look of Potloi

 

The Manipuri bridal wedding dress includes gold and other accessories with the Rasa Leela Skirt.The Gopis wear the Potloi kumin as skirt and it is beautifully decorated with glitter items and the skirt is covered with satin and fully embellished with different pieces of brass in Rasa Leela. The designs are all of bright colors and especially, Shrimati Radhika wears the green potloi and the Gopis wear the red potloi. But, the red potlois are worn mostly in wedding. However, a bride can also wear the green potloi if she wishes to. Since, Potloi is the Rasa Leela costume it has other accessories and clothing items to complement with it. In Manipuri wedding, the bridal costumes are almost like Rasa Leela costumes but the only difference lies in upper portion of the costume. Because, wearing koktumbi is not necessary in the wedding. Instead, brides wear beautiful hair accessories and the innaphi to cover the blouse. Last but not the least, all the makeups and makeovers are incomplete without thilak (chandan siri kangba) on the forehead of both bride and bridegroom because wearing Tilak is the essential part of the Manipuri Vaishnava devotees. However, other than the occasion of marriage ceremony, they just wear tilak while attending and organizing every auspicious occasion held in their community.

Manipuri Rasa Leela Dance and a small part of Manipuri wedding Video are included here:


You will learn by reading

But you will understand with love.

~ Shams Tabrizi

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