Padma Shri Wareppa Naba, Manipur's renowned theatre personality passed away at a hospital in Imphal on Sunday. He was 82.
Naba, who was honoured with Padma Shri in 2017 for his contribution to the world of theatre in Manipur, breathed his last at Rajmedicity hospital, Imphal at 12.30 am on Sunday, sources said.
Expressing grief, the chief minister prayed for the departed soul and extended sincere condolences to the bereaved family.
"Aggrieved to learn about the demise of Padma Shri Wareppa Naba who was a renowned theatre personality. I extend my sincere condolences to the bereaved family, and pray for the departed soul to rest in peace at the heavenly abode of almighty God," Biren tweeted on Sunday.
Theatre body Kalakshetra Manipur also condoled the death in a Facebook post, saying, “We are deeply saddened by Oja Naba Wareppa's (Padmashree) passing away. He was a committed theatre worker and a well-wisher of Kalakshetra Manipur. He was one of Kalakshetra Manipur's founding members. He had made enormous contributions to the theatre world. We recognise his contributions to theatre and traditional performances, including sumang kumhei, nata sankirtana, and many more.
“We cherish him and express our appreciation for all the spiritual guidance he had provided us throughout. We, the Kalakshetra Manipur members, offer prayers for him and his family.”
A prominent Sarkirtana performing artist and a director, Wareppa Naba was honoured for his tremendous contributions in the field of theatre, sankirtana and narrative performing arts.
Born on October 16, 1941 at Haobam Marak Thingel Ngangom Leikai, Imphal West, Manipur, Wareppa Naba spent his early years in the field of traditional art and culture under the guidance of his father.
During his student life, following his love for theatre, he took active part for establishment of his group, Theatre Mirror with a band of enthusiast theatre workers under the leadership of Padmashree H Kanhailal in the year 1965. He also took an active part in the promotion and protection of theatre culture in the region.
Following the establishment of Theatre Mirror, he put in his heart and soul for the promotion of Theatre culture in the region with high professional aptitude. He played a major role in reviving Shumang Leela (courtyard plays) of Manipur, and acted in over 150 plays and directed and produced over 100 plays. He had also written over 20 plays, and won innumerable awards at the national and international levels.
And among the many awards, he was conferred the Padma Shri in 2017 for his contribution in the field of Art and Culture and also won the “International Lifetime Achievement Award'', an honour by INFA, Kathmandu in 2014.
Warrepa Naba was also conferred the “National Vayoshreshtha Saman” in 2018 for his contribution in the field of creative arts. He also gave his service in the field of Moirang Parva and Shhumang Leela tradition.
The theatre personality took keen interest and active service for the promotion and protection of all those rare but languishing Narrative and Performing Art Forms in Manipur. He also took various initiatives for the promotion and protection of Nata Sankritana tradition in Manipur.
As president of the Theatre Centre, Manipur, one of the premiere apex cultural organisation in the region, he organised Festival of Narrative Arts to promote all rare art forms such as Lairik Theeba Haiba, Waree Leeba, Pena Phamshak, Khongjom Parva, Khubak Eshei, Nata Sankirtana, Khunung Eshei, Maan Bhanjan, Goura Leela and Khullang Eshei.
The United Committee Manipur (UCM) also condoled his death. It said the demise of Guru Naba Warrepa is a great loss not only for Manipur but also in the field of theatre. UCM observed condolence service at its head office, Lamphel, Imphal West on Sunday.