Ukhrul: Dhareo Phanit, a popular pre-harvest festival, at Hungpung village in Manipur’s Ukhrul district witnessed thousands of people from the hill district as well as other parts of the state on Saturday.

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Organised by Lower Hungpung Public Organisation (LHPO), Dhareo Phanit is annually celebrated in the month of October just before the harvest season.

The annual one-day village fair is one of the most sought-after festivals in Ukhrul since its inception in 1964. Dhareo comes from two words, ‘Dhar’ means ‘new’ and ‘Reo’ means ‘to pluck’, so the festival is a celebration of plucking or harvesting new crops from the fields.

During the fair, farmers from the village and its neighbouring villages earned handsome amounts from their newly harvest agricultural and horticulture products.

“Today, on behalf of the village, the Lower Hungpung Public Organisation (LHPO)  has organised this Dhareo festival. This festival is not only for the villagers but we are also giving a platform to other farmers from neighbouring and far-flung villages to promote organic farm produce and livestock,” said Themmayo MK, chairman, LHPO.

This year, farmers from far-flung villages like Chingjaroi, Kharasom, Khamasom, Theiva from Ukhrul district and Kangpat, Sorbung, Koso from Kamjong district brought their farm produce, especially the giant hornet, which is one of the major attractions of the festival. Asian giant hornet is considered to be expensive and a delicacy among the community.

Altogether, around 100 stalls of varied items were put up during the festival.

Local youth KSV Ngashanpam, who runs a duck and local chicken farming business, was among the highest sellers at the festival.

“Around 350 ducks worth Rs 3.5 lakh were sold off at Dhareo festival this time. Most of these ducks were bought by those vendors who put up stalls for lotteries and gambling during the festival,” informed Ngashanpam, who had returned home from Delhi during the pandemic and started the business.

Acham, a resident of Chingjaroi village, was also hoping to make a handsome amount by selling his harvested giant hornet at the festival.

Since my family is not financially sound, I am trying to make some money through this and meet some of my family’s needs, said Acham, who had traveled over 80 km from his village to the festival venue.

“I am also here to sell Hao Khamui (Naga bread/sticky rice bread), some flattened rice, pounded rice and guavas. In the past, I used to come and sell vegetables and other agricultural products,” added Mary from Tashar village.

“I am here to witness the Dhareo and it is quite a fanfare. It is quite an exciting scene,” said Worngachan, who had been visiting the festival since his childhood days.

Though the organisers are unsure of the exact revenue being generated from the one-day fair, the festival has helped to boost the village and its periphery economically.

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