TODAY -

Sangai with Sumo & Samba ?

Free Thinker *

 Sumo Wrestling at Manipur Sangai Festival at Khuman Lampak stadium, Imphal onNovember 22 2018
Sumo Wrestling at Manipur Sangai Festival at Khuman Lampak stadium, Imphal onNovember 22 2018 :: Pix - Lamdamba Oinam



Once I thought that Sangai festival is about propagating and expanding Manipur tourism to the world by showcasing our unique culture, tradition, history, games & sports, scenic beauties, rare fauna and flora, exotic cuisine etc, etc. Now the Honorable CM has added something more saying that the festival is also about love, peace and integration while inaugurating Sumo wrestling. It is a great idea.

Then why canít we make it much greater by converting it into a global carnival in the name one-world one-family? This time Sumo wrestling from Japan is a major attraction. Tickets are not available for Sumo shows. It is going to be the biggest crowd puller of the festival.

In a way Sumo has stolen the entire show. We always have good rapport with Japan and Japanese are very friendly people. They love our land and people perhaps because of Japan-lan (war) connection. Sumo wrestling is as old as our Sagol Kangjei (modern polo).

Japanese Emperor started the Sumo in circa 23 BC whereas our Sagol Kangjei began with the coronation ceremony of King Pakhangba in circa 33 AD. These two games are contemporary in the sense that they were evolved some 2000 years ago. Her Excellency the honorable Governor of Manipur as usual wears the unique Manipuri attire on the inauguration day; Wow! That is wonderful.

We are really proud of her because she always tries to represent the State in a befitting manner. She is so involved with the people of the State and concerned about the well-being of the people. We are also grateful to Hon. Sitaramanji for her gracious presence and inaugurating the 12th Sangai Festival; in her speech she mentions about our perennial festivities throughout the year. Yes, Madam, we are a happy people always in the mood of celebration.

In the last Sangai festival the number of visitors was estimated at around 3 lacs; out of which nearly 5 thousand were outsiders including foreigners. This time the target is to increase the number of visitors from within and from outside. The organizers are expecting about 4 lacs visitors.

The foreign participation particularly from Burma and Bangladesh is likely to increase many fold due to our initiative to bring in Diaspora people from the neighboring countries. Sangai Festival must be extended to other hill districts of the State.

This time it has covered Mao , what about other exotic places/people/plates/plants in the remote areas. Shuttle bus services and chopper services must be arranged properly for the visitors and participants to enjoy the festival to the fullest. We all wish that there should not be any kind of untoward incidents during the festival.

Hospitality of the people of Manipur is per excellence. Have you heard of any tourists hurt or harassed in Manipur? None! Manipur is not considered as a great tourist destination despite all the potentials it has; there is a wrong impression (created) about the state that the State of Manipur is a disturbed area; if you go there, you will be in trouble

. The situation there is worse than Kashmir. There are trouble-makers everywhere and goons are ruling the streets. If you are not a local you may be kidnapped and asked for ransom; abduction is a very common incident there. Police are also afraid of going out after dark; market closes at 4 pm.; nobody comes out after sunset except drunkards.

Sangai festival is a onetime affair; promoting Manipur tourism must be a continuing process and it must continue to attract tourist in the state throughout the year. Manipur is a perfect tourist destination. Unfortunately we are still unable to promote it and project it in the right manner.

In the northeast there is a huge tourist in- flow particularly in Meghalaya and Sikkim and of course to some extant in Assam. That is why people donít come to Manipur; this is not because we lack natural beauty, hospitality or infra-structure; people donít come to Manipur because we are not reaching out to the outside world and giving the right information. Forget about the excuse of law and order situation. Mind you there are thousands of people who want to see real curfew, bandhs, blockades, even mass rallies etc.

It is no joke, many people visit Daravi(largest slum) in Mumbai, Nazi Gas Chambers, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Bermuda Triangle, Most haunted sites of the world and most dangerous places of all? Never underestimate the power of human curiosity and inquisitiveness. In fact we lack marketing, advertisement and publicity.

While promoting our own tourism, am I sounding like a parochial local brat who insists on singju-bora, paknam and atingba (rice beer) instead of Pizza , Burger and Coke? Let us try to maintain the sanctity of Sangai Festival which is supposed to be genuinely ours.

Whether the world likes it or not, let us proudly promote our Sendra (hillock in Loktak lake), Siroi ( lily of Ukhrul ), Sagol-kangjei(modern polo), Soidon-Soibum (bamboo shoot), Sumang-lila, Kangla (Fort), Kankui (cave), Keibul-lamjao (floating habitat of Sangai-deer ), Mao-morning & Moreh-market , Ema-Keithel ( exclusive women bazaar) and many more .

In the name of pulling a bigger crowd for the fest, next time, we may arrange Samba dance from Brazil( which is a friendly country); Belly dance from Arabia, may be from Egypt (which is also a friendly country); what about a Cabaret from Havana Ė that can rock the next festival; just imagine the number of people who will come for the shows.

A vast throng from the neighboring States and Countries will pour in for the jamboree. It will be a megahit. But by doing so whether we are committing a faux pas! If not Ė

When Sumo comes can Samba be far behind?


* Free Thinker wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on 29 November, 2018 .


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