The Wangala Festival of Meghalaya is one of the most important festivals of the Garo tribe in the state. Celebrated since 1976, every year around the time of November the festival attracts a lot of tourists. This year, although November 13, has been declared a holiday on account of the festival, a lot of apprehensions surround the organising committee members regarding its celebrations owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The festival is a time of vibrance and merriment amidst its people, and they eagerly look forward to this celebration every year. Here are some interesting facts one should know about the Wangala Festival of North East India:
1. The festival is held in honour of Saljong, the Sun-god of fertility; Wangala festival is a harvest festival celebrated by the Garos of Meghalaya. It marks the end of a period of toil in the fields and also signifies the onset of winter.
2. Wangala festival is also known as ‘The Festival of Hundred Drums’. During this festival, the girls in the village perform different kind of dances. Drums and bamboo flutes are played to the tunes of the folk songs of the region. ‘Dama Dagota’, a traditional dance is performed to the sound of various folk songs. Sacrifices are offered to please the Sun- god, Saljong.
3. The cerebration of this festival lasts sometimes for a week and is generally celebrated for a span of two days. The first day of the ceremony is known as ‘Ragula’ and is performed in the house of the chief. While, the second day is called ‘Kakkat’. People come out in colourful costumes with feathered headgears to dance to the beats of long oval- shaped drums.
4. Tura in Meghalaya is epicenter of these festivities. However, one should head to the villages of Sadolpara in the West Garo Hills to witness the festival in its most traditional form.
5. During thus festival the people choose to relax and are in a festive mood. The hills and valleys echo with the beats of drums for many days. Through this festival, the Garos attempt to preserve and promote their cultural identity.