Wari Leeba, a unique narrative form of storytelling of the Manipuri community, is believed to be a living tradition over the past few centuries in Manipur. To keep the spirit alive, a five-day Wari Leeba festival will be organized at the Hojai town in Assam’s Nagaon district from May 24.
At the Hojai festival, altogether 13 storytellers including four from Repertory of Wari Leeba Manipur and the rest from the surrounding areas of Hojai will share their oral version of a section of the famous epic Mahabharata and the Ramayana.
According to experts, these oral stories would serve as memories and histories of the respective societies through the power of spoken words. Experts also claim that it was the power of the spoken words that ruled human societies in different parts of the world.
Wari-Leeba which forms an integral part and parcel of the Meitei culture is now on the verge of extinction due to the lack of patronage as the storytellers of the older generation passed away with the rapid urbanization and global process.
According to experts, the art form of Wari-Leeba is slowly dying in Meitei inhabited areas of Bangladesh and Tripura while it is picking up in places like Hojai and Cachar in Assam. It has also been said that a handful of storytellers numbering around 200 are trying to revive this art form in the region at different levels and capacities.