TODAY -

Sangai Festival : It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

Sunny Sharma Gurumayum *

Manipur Sangai Tourism Festival 2013 : Opening day at Hapta Kangjeibung, Palace Compound on November 21 2013
Manipur Sangai Tourism Festival 2013 : Opening day at Hapta Kangjeibung, Palace Compound on November 21 2013 : Pix - Ashok Ningthoujam



It was the best of times, it was the worst of times
"It was the season of Lights; it was the season of Darkness.
" Charles Dickens.

I had been excited for quite some time now. All the advertising seemed to have affected my mind. I planned going to the Sangai festival, an annual tourism festival in the city of Imphal.

From my research, it is supposed to carry on for 10 continuous days. On the third day of the festival I decided to personally experience what the hype was all about. At around five o'clock in the evening, I and my friend began to drive towards our destination. On our way we saw strings of light decorated everywhere. The city lights made me hope for the best.

When we reached the festival we were told to park the car in a place very far away from the main entrance. Maybe it was for security reasons. Maybe it was a necessity. Maybe it was for the better. Maybe it was for the best.

After succeeding an impossible task of finding a parking spot we were told to walk a long distance to get our entry tickets. Having purchased the tickets, we had to go through a security frisking. Having had the frisking action done, we then walked a long road decorated with many holiday lights. Twinkle lights were hanging on trees and they dangled radiantly. Lights were flickering everywhere.

When we reached the entrance, to our surprise, there was a very long crooked line of human beings. The crooked line was divided into two sections, one for the males and the other for the females. We looked at each other and my friend said hopelessly, "Might as well go back, we are never going to make it. By the time we entered the gate the festival would be over." I insisted on staying. The sparkling lights made me optimistic for the day. Lights ad infinitum!

We stood there, in the long never ending stretch for our chance to be frisked yet again, on the hopes of eventually getting inside and becoming a part of the crowd. Laughing and talking, waiting in line, we were literally a human train. 5 minutes later, all of a sudden, a family with a bunch of security guards around them, steps out of a fancy car and enters the gate without the formality of having to stand in the never moving queue like any one of us.

After a while it happened again. 15 minutes after, this act of "powerful Government servants" minimizing the rules became a regular. It was a regular in the eyes of almost everyone who was a part of this never ending, never moving crooked line which was divided on biological sex.

A wise man once said "A developed country is not where the poor have cars. It's where the rich uses public transport." I am an Indian and I am well aware of the drastic difference between the Government officials and its citizens. I am aware of it, I have always seen it, I have always experienced it but this particular day it pervaded me. I felt it. That moment, with all those pretty sparkles flashing all around me, it clicked in my head like a light bulb.

I was made aware that for one and the same thing, that is, entering the gate, I had to wait whereas they "the powerful people" didn't. I felt small, I felt weak, I felt inferior and I felt powerless. It was a horrible feeling. People are different mentally, physically, socially, in every way. Some people are worshiped for having money, and others are looked down upon for being poor.

Everyone should be treated equally but this is not the case. This is a slap in the face of equality. This dichotomy is upsetting.

We are all equal under God, if there is a God; we are all equal under the eyes of the law. Rich or poor, literate or illiterate, weak or strong we all work under the same principle, under the same laws of nature, under the same sun, under the same moon, under the same divine light.

We entered and I saw the festival. An hour later we found the exit, walked a long distance to the parking and drove homeward-bound. On the way back my eyes were glued on all the electric lights decorating the city. Shining like stars, the fairy lights guided me home.


* Sunny Sharma Gurumayum wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is a recent Philosophy graduate from Hindu College, University of Delhi. Currently he is working towards obtaining his Masters degree from Manipur University. He is also a contributing writer at www.thoughtcatalog.com and spends most of his valuable time on social media sites being a couch potato
This article was webcasted on November 28, 2013.


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