Manora, also known as Nora Chatri, is a folk dance-drama tradition practiced by the Thai community in the north Malaysian states of Kelantan, Kedah and Penang, as well as throughout southern Thailand. A Manora performance incorporates stylised dance, singing, comedy, and drama.
Ritual elements are strong in this performance tradition, which is often performed on special occasions such as Buddhist temple ceremonies and the initiation or coming of age rites of a dancer. Manora is also held at community gatherings such as weddings and public festivals.
The word manora derives from a Buddhist jataka tale about Manora, a heavenly bird-princess who falls in love with a human prince, Phra Suthon. This tale forms the basis of the tradition’s main dance sequence in which the principal dancer, as Phra Suthon, performs a courting dance with Manora and her heavenly sisters. Dance movements are characterised by backward-bent fingers and outstretched arms, alternating subtle and sudden gestures that are said to reflect those of a mythical bird. The opening dance is followed by a lakon (dramatic sequence), during which various stories are performed by the principal dancer, a pair of clowns and supporting actors.
In Kelantan, the Manora has incorporated many characteristics of Kelantanese Malay traditions, particularly the Mak Yong. The musical instruments of Manora usually comprise of gendang, geduk, gedumbak, gong, canang, kesi, wooden clappers, and serunai. PUSAKA works closely with Kumpulan Manora Cit Manit Kg. Bukit Yong, led by the principal dancer, Manora Ah Tid.