Manipur, which has over the years produced many award winning artists, has added another feather to its cap through Khangembam Mangi Singh, the first Pena player to receive the Padma Shri.
Singh, who received this prestigious honour for Art: Traditional Music of Manipur (Pena) this year has been practicing it since he was 11.
He has performed all over the world, including in Mexico, USA, UK, Germany and France.
"I got the news about this award, while I was at a public meeting. I was surprised. I never expected that my hard work would be appreciated so much and recognized by the people. So, I was so shocked and at the same time I was overjoyed," said Singh.
Singh was born to on November 8. 1927, and is currently working at the Sana Leikham Pena Shanglakpa, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Centre for Research on Traditional and Indigenous Performing Arts.
He joined the Jawaharlal Nehru Manipur Dance Academy in 1975 and retired as Guru of Lai Haraoba. He was one of the founder members of Laihui, which was established in 1985. t is his life's mission now to keep alive the Pena music legacy, as he imparts lessons to around 27 students at present.
"I am not only teaching Pena, but also Lai Haraoba. Earlier there weren't many students, but today many students are showing an interest in learning this age-old art," said Singh.
The students said they were fortunate to learn the art from a genius like Singh.
"The way he teaches us is very different from others. Whenever we have any doubts he is willing to help us. So I am so happy to learn from him," said Geetanjari, a student.
"Since 2004, I have been learning Penna. I am happy to learn from him. Because of my teacher I have learnt how to play Pena. I am extremely happy that our guru has got an award," added another student Apung. (ANI)