Traditional music and dance of Manipur, Northeast India

Traditional and rare folksongs from Kakching, with Ima Chandani

Traditional and rare folksongs from Kakching, with Ima Chandani

Here are some rare folksongs performed by Ima Yehkhom Chandani Leima. Ima remembers some of the songs from her youth. Today many songs are being forgotten and it is only the elder folks of the villages who retain them. Perhaps Ima Chandani is the only person left who remembers these songs. Ima Chandani was 86 years old at the time of these recordings in Dec. 2014. This set of recordings was made possible with the help of M. Gourachandra and his People’s Museum of Kakching, Kakching Makah Leikai,  at Sabal Ashang Pareng. It was Oja who arranged for Ima Chandani to be filmed for this session, and it was the first time she had ever been recorded. Here are four songs taken from the session.

Ima Chandani sings a Rice Planting Song. In Manipur valley although rice paddy fields are for the most part still planted by hand the old planting songs are no longer sung. This then is an example of one such old song which is now no longer in use. Ima remembers this song from her youth. 

This is a recording from the set I did with Ima Chandani, the 86 year old Ima from Kakching as she remembers songs from her youth. Here is a nearly forgotten Rice Pounding song. In the old days rice was pounded to make a powder for Yuu (rice wine), and also to husk and make a flour. Today this rice pounding is no longer done in the traditional large standing mortar and pestle fashion and it is a utilitarian activity that has gone to the wayside. For the recording we actually did three takes of the song as Ima said she was remembering more verses as we went along and Ima wanted to add them. This is the third take, which is the most complete. It is an interesting song, as it is a conversation and debate between a mother and daughter as they trade verses.

This song is a Lullaby, a cradle rocking song singing about nature and flowers.

This song is a Lament, a mourning song, for a lost child.

This is a conversation interlude that takes place before the music taping session began. Here Oja Gourachandra sensing Ima’s unease at being filmed for the first time in her life adds some humor to make her more comfortable. Oja M. Gourachandra is the dedicated historian and researcher of traditional Kakching history. He single handily created a museum, which is now called The People’s Museum of Kakching. Oja is also a wonderful singer with a great voice. It was Oja who set up this whole recording session. It is also a wonderful candid portrait of the Kakching dialect.

Recorded and edited by Byron Aihara for Seven Sisters Music. Arranged by M. Gourachandra and the People’s Museum of Kakching, Kakching Makah Leikai, at Sabal Ashang Pareng. Copyright Byron Aihara and People’s Museum of Kakching.