TODAY -

Manipur fairs and festivals

Sonia Oinam *

A delicacy at the Chinzak festival (10 Days Fest) at Iboyaima Shumang Lila Shanglen complex on 29 October 2012
A delicacy at the Chinzak festival (10 Days Fest) at Iboyaima Shumang Lila Shanglen complex on 29 October 2012
Pix - Bunti Phurailatpam



Our Manipur have hosted many fairs & festivals timely, annually, occasionally like Ningol Mela, Fish Mela, Handloom & handicrafts Fair, Book Fair, Food Festival viz. Chinzak Festival, Fruit Festivals viz. Lemon, Pinneapple, Orange festivals,etc., Sangai Festival, etc. each with its unique speciality, purposes and have been quite successful in not only generating income, popularity of the products and goodwill among all communities of the state but also in providing an excellent platform for economic opportunity, growth and prosperity for all sections of the society. But we need a review of all these fairs & festivals and ask the question whether is it inclusive? Is it accessible to all? Are there better avenues & areas which can still be improved? Come lets see!

Lemon, Pineapple, Orange festivals are becoming a favourite attracting the public with their aided features like Orange Queen, Pineapple Queen, cultural shows, etc. in addition to its bountiful products at the stalls. And interestingly, such festivals encourage the shift of limelight from Imphal area to beautiful locations of our state say Tamenglong where the Orange festival is held, Ukhrul where the Lemon festival is held and so on. Here, taking note of the location; the connectivity and the transport facility to these places needs attention and improvement in the long run in order to ensure larger public participation from all corners of the state and making these festivals more successful in the coming years.

Food festivals viz. Chinzak festival is another hot favourite among the people of Manipur. In addition to the local cuisines with its varied delicacies from Sekmai, Kakching, Ukhrul, etc, we get a chance to taste foreign cuisines like Korean,Thai,etc. It is indeed great to taste the famous Korean Khimchi without even going to Korea. It is a good sign to include the foreign cuisines. But, I can see a competition between the local delicacies & the foreign cuisines. There is an advantage point for the foreign cuisines, why? Because there is always some sort of anxiety & excitement for tasting something new and again because of the exorbitant prices of our local cuisines most of the public prefer to taste the unusual foreign cuisines instead even if they are also highly priced.

For instance, a plate of local shingju variety which is normally priced at around Rs.10 fetch Rs.50 at such festivals. So, what would you prefer? The costly shingju or a foreign delicacy? I think our varied local delicacies have great potential and such food festivals should be a platform for increasing the popularity of these local cuisines which would open new opportunities for our local people if it is successful in generating & increasing patrons of their special local delicacies. Exorbitant prices can be pruned to a reasonable price so that local delicacies attract the huge crowd and patrons. So, is short term profit preferable to long term profit? I hope Food festival doesn’t become Foreign Food festival in course of time and hope patrons of local delicacies doesn’t wane with time.

Now coming to another successful fair held usually at the end of every year i.e., Book fair. Being a regular customer myself, I’ve seen the growing interest and increasing customers every passing year. It is successful in the sense that it attracts the student community without fail with its special discount for the students on purchase of the books and the variety of books available further attracts book lovers of all ages. The aided programmes of publishing books and poetry recitation, etc. also provides a golden platform for the literary community. In view of the growing interest & customers, such fair can attract more people if facilities given to students are also extended to all book lovers and the number of stalls be increased for more varieties and choices. In every way, it is already a much awaited fair.

Ningol mela, Handloom & handicrafts fair/melas are also commonly held. But unlike the above mentioned fair & festivals; do they command large public participation? Are the products really accessible to the public? In most cases, the products are artistic, desirable but again highly priced. Many customers and patrons are lost because of the exorbitant price and they prefer to visit the main market instead of attending such handloom, handicrafts, Ningol fair & festivals.

What is the use if a huge crowd visits the stalls and continue window shopping. The larger section of public comprising of students, unemployed, housewives, etc. may be eager to attend such fairs but their active participation is still lacking. Definitely, such fair & festivals thrive and may attract a few section with fat purse but the spark of the public participation is wanting. Popularity and success of handloom & handicraft products also requires generating public interest, participation & patrons. Therefore with proper pricing and planning, it can be a win-win situation for the entrepreneurs as well as the customers/public.

Finally, on the review list is the Sangai Festival, yes the much hyped and popular tourism festival of Manipur. “Time waits when Manipur celebrates” is the 2012 theme and it seems promising with its cultural presentation, indigenous & adventure sports, handloom & handicrafts exhibition, indigenous food festival and indigenous fashion show; all packed in one grand celebration indeed!

The District theme day is one unique feature of this festival and it is this spirit of unity in diversity that makes the Sangai festival different from all other festivals. Eco- tourism is the future of our state and the festival is the stepping stone to the success for bringing Manipur on the map of not only India’s tourist map but on the World’s tourist map. Lets make this festival a grand success, moreover let us all take part in making our Manipur a peaceful, prosperous state, a favourite destination from people all over the world.

Manipur indeed celebrates when fair & festivals are held but every fair, every festival leaves an impression on the mind of its public. Only those fair & festival have been successful which have been able to attract all sections of the society, all ages, employed and un-employed with its proper pricing, planning, hospitality and unique mottos and features. Hoping for a change on the side of the organizers for making Fair & Festivals more attractive, accessible, inclusive and enjoyable experience for all!


* Sonia Oinam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on November 23, 2012.



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