Imphal: Sangai Festival, one of the state’s grandest annual cultural festivals, came to an end amid much fanfare at Bhagyachandra Open Air Theatre (BOAT) in Imphal on Monday.
Despite a boycott call on the festival by the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI), the 10th edition of the Sangai Festival sailed through in a peaceful manner with thousands of people, both locals and visitors, thronging the venues at Hapta Kangjeibung, Mapal Kangjeibung and Lamboi Khongnangkhong, Mao at Senapati district and Keibul at Bishnupur district.
The festival, since its inception in 2010 as a state-level event, has grown in popularity while showcasing the rich cultural ethos and diverse traditions of the state globally.
The festival is named after the state animal, Sangai, the brow-antlered deer found only in Manipur.
Speaking at the closing ceremony as the chief guest, Manipur governor Najma Heptulla pointed out that Manipur, in other parts of the country, is known more for its law and order situation rather than the beauty of the place. “It is a fact of life that negative reports travel much faster than positive attributes,” Heptulla said.
She further appealed the state government and people of the state to work towards dispelling such negative aura and take Manipur on the tourism map through various activities.
Interestingly, the two extended days of the festival saw a good number of visitors which automatically gave a boost to business for both domestic and international sellers.
Kamal Anwal from Cairo, Egypt who sells artefacts and antique at Lamboi Khongnangkhong, said that the last two days had been good since more people are visiting the stalls.
Presiding the closing ceremony, chief minister N Biren Singh also informed that the extended two days were decided by the state government keeping in view the demands by public.
However, expressing his concern over some of the civil society organisations trying to disturb the festival, Singh said: “Sangai Festival has now become a showcase of the state and the nation. Many dignitaries and prominent figures from different countries are visiting our state during this festival. And when we don’t show our hospitality and warmly welcome them, nobody would like to visit our state again.”
“And we don’t know how to grab such opportunity, we will remain as it is and not a way forward state,” he added.
Singh also stated that celebrating festivals such as Sangai Festival and Shirui Lily is a mechanism to bring people, both from hills and the valley, together and imbibe a sense of belongingness and togetherness.
The closing ceremony was also attended by cabinet ministers, law and order enforcement officials and other state officials.