There is a folklore related to this dance that once when the Copies were engaged in dancing with Krishna in ‘Maharaas’ the Natraj Shiva sought permission to witness the same. Krishna permitted him to watch the performance but only with his back facing the dancers but Shiva was so enchanted with the dance, sound of Mrudangs, flute and guhungroos that he forgot his promise and hiding himself watched the dance. He then returned to his abode in Himalaya and decided to perform the ‘Raas’ with his wife Parvati.
For performing ‘Raas’, Shiva chose Manipur and invented instruments like ‘penga’ and ‘Pena’. Sheshnag (the king of serpents) lit up this area with the ‘mani’ in his hood and since then the region is known as ‘Manipur’.
The dance having been influenced by ‘Maharaas’ describes mostly the playful acts of Krishna. This dance is usually performed by girls but men are not barred from performing it.
In the Manipuri dances four types of Raaslilas are performed i.e. Vasant Raas (Raas of spring season), Maharaas (Raas of full moon day), Kunj Raas (Raas of tree clusters) and Nitya Raas (Eternal Raas).
This dance has a preponderance of’Lasya’ and the footwork, eyebrow movements, hand pestures and body postures all imbibe ‘Lasya’.
Costume: The costume of Manipuri dance is extremely, attractive and colourful. The women dancers wear a costume called ‘Pulloi’ A loose lehanga of bright satin or silk is worn which is called ‘coomin’. It is adorned with motifs made with glass and Jari which is covered by transparent silk or peshwan. To blow the ‘coomin’ near the knees, bamboo sticks are placed inside in a circular form. The face of the dancer is covered with transparent silk. The hairs are raised and then tied in a knot. The shape of the knot is according to the type of Raas. The Gopis usually wear costume of red colour while Radha wears green colour.