GUWAHATI: Renowned Manipuri dance guru and Meghalaya Day-cum-U-Tirhot Sing Award winner Guru Hari Charan Singha is no more. The around 85-year-old dance guru breathed his last at a hospital in Shillong on Monday, leaving behind his wife and children.
Born at Singari on the outskirts of Silchar town in Cachar district in Assam on June 29, 1934, Guru Haricharan had his primary education at Silchar. His father was late Krishnadhan Singha and mother was late Krishna Devi. At the age of 14, he was trained as a Manipuri dancer under the guidance of Guru Senarik Rajkumar, a professor of Manipuri dance at Shantiniketan, Calcutta. He also underwent music (vocal) at Silchar Sangeet Vidyalaya from 1954-57. He went to Shillong in August 1957 to propagate classical Manipuri dance and associated himself with the Bangiyo Sahitya Parishad, Shillong.
Life took a turn for the better in 1961 when he had secured scholarship from the Government of India for advance training in classical Manipuri dance and music at Imphal under great Guru late H Atamba Singha. After completion of his training he was conferred with the title Guru by many prominent gurus of Manipur, and the Union Ministry of Scientific Research and Cultural Affairs issued him a scholar’s certificate in 1963.
From 1964-88, he was attached with many English educational and music institutions, like Pine Mount Government Girls’ School, Shillong; Loreto Convent, Shillong; St. Mary’s Convent, Shillong; St. Joseph’s Convent, Shillong; SWA Music College, Shillong; Shillong Music College, Shillong; to name a few. In 1971, he was appointed as a Manipuri dance teacher at Banasthali Vidyapith in Rajasthan, but he had to come back to Shillong as he failed to acclimatize himself in Rajasthan. In 1980, he was appointed as an examiner and question paper setter in Manipuri dance by Bhatkhande Sangeet Vidyapith, Lucknow. Again in 1985, he was appointed as an examiner and question paper setter by the Banasthali Vidyapith, Rajasthan (Deemed University). In 1997, he was appointed as a visiting professor of Bhatkhande Music College, Lucknow and Dehradun from 1999-2000. From 2001 onwards, he was an examiner and paper setter in Manipuri dance at Bhatkhande Sangeet Sansthan (Deemed University), Lucknow. From 1999-2002, he had been attached to a few educational institutions to teach Manipuri dance in Dehradun. Some of them are Seven Oaks School, Gahri Cantt, Jaswant Higher Secondary School, Pestle Weed College, Children’s Academy, Govind Garh and Welm Girls’ School. However, not being able to adapt himself with the climatic condition there he had to come back to Shillong.
Some of his major stage performances were the dance number presented by him and his party at the SAARC Summit held at Shillong State Central Library Auditorium under the chairmanship of the then Prime Minister of India Rajib Gandhi on May 8,1986. From 1991-95, he and his party had been performing Manipuri dance in the Cultural Integration Nite at Raj Bhavan in Shillong when Madhukar Dighe had headed the gubernatorial office. Many of his students took active part in both state and national cultural meets and competitions, and brought laurels to Meghalaya. On July 20, 1997, he presented a dance in the cultural function organized to honour the then Prime Minister IK Gujral.
He received the Meghalaya Day-cum-U-Tirot Singh Award from the Government of Meghalaya on August 15, 1993. The Nikhil Bishnupriya Manipuri Mahasabha, Assam honoured him with Nartan Kanti Award in 1997. In an interview with The Sentinel on 2011, the dance guru was on record saying: “I don’t have the political push for awards like Sangeet Natak Akademi Award or Padmashree that remained elusive for me.”
Former Meghalaya Minister in-charge of Urban Development Ampareen Lyngdoh, Professor Tony Gill and Padamaja Sinha (Rubi) are some of his students.
Also read: Assam news