Shillong: The three-day annual 100 Drums Wangala Festival began on Thursday. Indigenous games and handloom, handicrafts and other local products produced by local self-help groups were exhibited at the Saras Fair as part of the festival that is on till Saturday.
The Wangala is the most significant post-harvest festival of the Garos, generally held in the second week of November every year. It is a thanksgiving ceremony to Misi Saljong, also known as Pattigipa Ra∙rongipa (The Great Giver), for having blessed the people with rich harvest of the season. The festival, which was started in the year 1976 at Asanang, the headquarters of the Rongram Development Block near Tura, has grown over the years under the patronage of the government of Meghalaya and nurtured by the festival organisers.
Indigenous games like Jakpong Pe-a, Rongma Chilsusa-a, Rongma Gosusa-a, Wa-pong sika, An-ding Oka were organised on the first day of the festival. An added attraction this year is the special dance performances by Tura Government College, Ruga Dance and Atong-Chugan, on the first day of the festival.
Tug of war, cultural competitions, Rugala Chachat So∙a, Dani Doka and Rhythm of 100 Drums will be held in the following days.
The chief executive member, Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC), Tura Dipul R Marak inaugurated the Saras Fair in the presence of deputy commissioner, West Garo Hills, Ram Singh.
Speaking on the occasion, Marak said that women of the region are very good in making and preparing pickles, traditional food items, including weaving and dressmaking, among others. He also mentioned that the organic turmeric from the state is being exported to other countries and therefore, urged all the people of the region to buy and use local products which are organic and also help and encourage the local entrepreneurs to sell their products.
Meanwhile, deputy commissioner Ram Singh informed that Saras Fair which is being organised by the Meghalaya State Rural Livelihood Society (MSRLS) is a programme under the Union ministry of rural development to alleviate poverty and ensure financial inclusion and livelihood support to self-help groups of the area. He also said that the fair provides a platform for the rural artisans to sell their produce and thereby promote the livelihood activities of the self-help groups of the region.