Gala Manipur Sangai Festival kicks off amidst fanfare
Spotlight on rich traditions, vibrant culture & tourism industry

Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, November 21 2015 : With an ambitious objective to promote the State as an attractive tourist destination to the world, the Manipur Sangai Festival has been opened amidst dazzling lights and colourful cultural presentations at Bhagya-chandra Open Air Theatre this evening.

Large number of people were seen lining up to get inside Hapta Kangjeibung from around 2 pm.

The festival venue and adjoining areas were heavily guarded by a large number of security personnel in view of the bandh and boycott calls announced by an underground outfit.

Governor V Shanmu-ganathan, who attended the opening function as the chief guest, opened the festival by cutting ribbon of the main entrance gate and releasing colourful balloons in the presence of Chief Minister O Ibobi, Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam and Ministers, MLAs, DGP Shahid Ahmad, Chief Secretary O Naba-kishore, other high ranking officers and a large crowd.

Later, the dignitaries had a look of the Sangai theme park, heritage park, art gallery and other stalls.

During his visit to the heritage park, the chief guest lit up the 'Mera light' at 'Meitei Yumjao' and also interacted with the artisans.

Later, V Shanmuganathan and O Ibobi graced the grand and glittering opening function held at BOAT as the chief guest and president respectively.

Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam, Parliamentary Secretary (Tourism) M Prith-viraj and Ambassador of Royal Norwegian Embassy, New Delhi Nils Ragnar Kam-savg also attended the function as the guests of honour.

BOAT was jam-packed with cheering audience despite the boycott and bandh calls of an underground outfit.

Governor V Shanmu-ganathan while speaking at the grand opening function said that with the steady improvement in the tourism infrastructure such as hotels and road and transport coupled with initiatives taken up by the State Government like the Manipur Sangai Festival, things have started looking brighter in the tourism sector.

The Look East Policy and now Act East Policy of the Central Government is also poised to open up new avenues for tourism.

But the State is still far away from attaining the recognition it deserves, he said.

The Governor said, "We must persist with our efforts for exploiting the full tourism potential of the State.

The irony is that Manipur is known more for its law and order issues rather than its enormous beauty and human resources.

In recent times also, there have been incidents showing tendency of cornnmnal tension in this Statt: of multiple communities.

These negative reports are a serious deterrent to the people wanting to visit the State.

It is in our hands, the State Government and the people of Manipur to overturn this negative perception.

It would help to initiate a multi-media campaign focusing on the positives about the State" .

He further said that tourism is considered as the fastest growing sector today and the State must also position itself to take full advantage of it.

V Shanmuganathan said, "If the tourism ' potential we are endowed with is tapped successfully, our State also can maintain a vibrant economy.

No doubt, tourism infrastructure such as good accommodation, road and transport and other quality basic amenities are prerequisites for attracting the tourists and these need special attention in this State also particularly in the hill districts.

But another aspect which should engage our attention is marketing.

Marketing should be packaged neatly to catch the imagination of the tourists so as to enhance the saleability of the State as a tourist destination, he pointed out.

This is one area where the concerned authorities need to focus and do some hard selling to figure in the tourism map, he said.

Unfortunately, for reasons best known to them, certain sections of the people have refrained from participating in the festival and at the same time advocating others not to participate.

It is not a very happy state of affairs.

Every citizen of Manipur should ensure that this festival is made a success every year in the interest of the State and its people, the Governor said.

He added, "I also strongly feel that the festival is a rare platform where our artistes can show their talent.

I would urge them to show their best and also continue their efforts for improving their performance so that the rich cultural heritage of the State is displayed in its true spirit to entice the tourists" .

In his speech, Chief Minister O.Ibobi said that delegates from other countries and State arc participating in the festival this year.

He thanked the Ambassador of Norway for attending the inaugural function and expressed hope that he would carry back a beautiful memory of his stay in the State.

Ibobi also thanked the delegates of neighbouring countries and States for attending the festival.

He also said that Ambassadors, High Commissioners and representatives of neighboring countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia, Japan, China, Bhutan and Sri Lanka etc are likely to visit the State to witness the festival.

He expressed hope that the festival would be able to bring about a strong and good relationship between Manipur visiting countries.

The Chief Minister further said that as a part of the festival, the 9th Manipur International Polo Tournament would be held from tomorrow.

Teams of USA, UK and Thailand would take part in the tournament, he said.

He also said that Manipur has a recorded history of 2000 years and made lots of contributions to the world in terms of indigenous sports and different art forms.

The festival would promote State's rich cultural heritage, folk dances and music, handloom and handicraft items, indigenous musical instruments, tribal jewellery and tribal textile and natural beauty to the world.

Ministry of Tourism, Government of India had sanction the project for development of tourist circuit in the state at Imphal, Moirang, Khongjoin and Moreh in 2013.He said that the Government along with the agency concerned is looking forward to develop Loktak lake as a world class tourist place.

In his speech, Ragnar Kamsavg said that there is a similarity between Norway and Manipur as both the places have bold and beautiful mountains.

He also appreciated the people of the State for protecting its tradition and culture.

Minunshigi Sheidinna-pham, a choreographic presentation of the students of JN Manipur Dance Academy mesmerized the dignitaries and audience.

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