I had planned and then postponed a trip to Manipur more than once, in the past few months which was kind of frustrating. Now looking back, I realize, the postponements were actually a blessing in disguise. After I planned my Manipur trip the third time, I found that the dates almost coincided with the Manipur Sangai festival 2017. So, I made a few tweaks to my other commitments and made sure my dates actually coincide with the festival. Dates sorted, I landed a couple of days before the start of the festival. And to my pleasant surprise, I came to know that the curtain raiser of this year’s Sangai festival was scheduled for that day. Within a couple of hours after I had landed, thanks to a friend, I found myself on my way to attend the same.
What is the Manipur Sangai Festival?
Named after the shy and gentle brow-antlered Sangai deer, Manipur’s national animal, the Sangai festival is the biggest tourism festival of Manipur. The Sangai festival is organized by the state government of Manipur every year and is your one-stop destination to see and experience the handicraft, food and culture of Manipur. Celebrated in the Month of November, this 10-day event attempts to show every aspect of Manipuri history and culture over a period of 10 days. This year, it is being celebrated from the 21st to the 30th of November.
The Curtain Raiser of Sangai Festival 2017 At Loktak
For the first time this year, the Sangai festival is being celebrated at multiple venues. On the same lines, the curtain raiser too was celebrated in Moirang and not in Imphal. The road connecting Imphal and Moirang passes through numerous small towns and villages which gives you a wonderful glimpse of life in country-side Manipur. By the time we reached Moirang, all the VVIPs who had come to flag-off the Sangai run had left but the celebrations had not yet started. So, we proceeded to deeper into the Loktak and somehow, ended – up having quite an eventful journey. But more on that, later.
We were back soon after the celebrations have begun. The start was pretty electrifying, thanks to the unbelievably well-coordinated performances of Pung Cholom (Drum Dance). What followed was a continuous flow of soulful performances by various local artists. A significant number of the performances were in Manipuri but each and every song and dance was so soulful, I never felt a disconnect with what was going on.
The Night Was Long
As time passed, the chill in the wind started to increase and so did the crowd on the festival ground. We too, with cans of Diablo in our hands, coupled with humble portions of Manipuri bora, were swaying to the vibe of the place. We did not really want to leave but it was close to 11 at the night and we were far from Imphal. We had to leave and leave we did, but not before attending one last joyful performance by yet another local band.
Oh! And did I tell you, all the bands that performed, they all were built around the lead lady singers? Truly empowered women!
The beignning of the Manipur Sangai Festival 2017 was truly a wonderful one if you ask me, and so were the rest of the days which I attended. I will be writting about them in the coming days. But before that, I have a ton of pending posts to write!! *sigh*