Where have all the flowers gone? To Khurkhul, everyone!

Milan Ashem *

 Where have all the flowers gone? To Khurkhul

'Urbanisation' has become a massive derogatory term which gets on the nerves of most of the environmental activists now-a-days; it tends to become a part of their everyday morning paper headlines and in such a way, learning and fighting the upheaval of the hazardous effects that it has imposed upon the environment. Folksy Triumph, a very much dedicated 'folk-sy' community formed by a handful of Imphal (an urbanized city) lads as a non-profit organisation has also been loathing newspapers and organising events concerning the environment since 2014.

To regard and celebrate the then works of late American folk singer-songwriter and activist, Pete Seeger and as a part of their motive i.e. to bring as much awareness of environmental degradation to the people, both urban and rural, Folksy Triumph introduced "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?" (yes, you know it rather well, the very song Mr. Seeger wrote) 1st Edition on 3rd May, 2014 at South Lousing Hillock, Chingnungkhok, Lamlai.

Since then, the festival is celebrated every year to continue the legacy of Pete Seeger, titling the motto: "Protect our Environment", with locations at different scenic rural areas near Imphal valley. And this year, Folksy Triumph held it at Khurkhul Makha Leikai, Sabal Lampak, a village 20 km away from Imphal, on 27th and 28th of October in collaboration with Khurkhul Welfare Organisation.

For those who doubt that the festival took place continually for the past 3-4 years peacefully at the most pleasing rural scenic spots, and not on any concreted turf of Imphal city, here are the venues -
1st Edition: (aforementioned)
2nd Edition: Santhei Natural Park, Andro, 2015.
3rd & 4th Edition: Konsang Lampak, Phayeng, 2016 & 2018

It is not an exaggeration to state that the festival has popularised some of the aforesaid venues which currently act as tourist spots, because (and of course) of the enticing natural beauty you could not have a chance to see among the concrete jungle. Opening a way to behold these rural sceneries for the urban people and helping in bridging the bond of rural-urban life, is one of the various motives of this great crowd-funded festival.

The 5th Edition of Where Have All The Flowers Gone? has a lot more to teach us in an entertaining way encompassing the two days with a variety of performances, art exhibitions, feasting on local foods and a lot more. The main motive, no, there isn't any particular motive you should be seeking for from this festival because it has wide-ranging virtuous purposes as important as any other motives planned, fulfilling the needs and desires of every visitor present there, chiefly comprising of music enthusiasts and nature lovers, at the same time helping to safeguard the rural cultural aspects and traditional values.

Moreover, fairly as popular as any other music festivals in Manipur, Where Have All The Flowers Gone? stands to be one of the biggest, giving a joint platform to both local and non-local artists from outside the state.

The first day of the 5th Edition started off with a bicycle rally from Lamyanba Shanglen, Konung Mamang to the venue itself as the destination. Many a go-green cyclists from Imphal sojourned the 20km journey on their favourite bikes. Which is then accompanied by a children's painting competition on the theme "Save Our Environment", later by an art/photography exhibition presented by students of the Imphal Art College.

More than 300 elementary school students participated the painting competition. A tree plantation program followed on the second/last day of the festival, fortunately no minister was spotted on this event holding a sapling posing before the camera, and unfortunately no mainstream media coverage was there at the entirety of the festival except a broadcast on Khutsem Live.

The aforementioned events: Tree Plantation, Bicycle Rally, Painting Competition, are the key ingredients of Where Have All The Flowers Gone?. And later it always ends with great music with performances from both local and exotic artists from different parts of the country viz. Kolkata, Mumbai, Meghalaya, Nagaland.

The grand stage overlooking the mystical mountain, Kounu Ching girdled by the silver cloudscape is the best view in Where Have All The Flowers Gone? 5th edition. The live performances were also plainly spectacular and enjoyable despite the difficulties of the sound system that both the audiences and the organisers suffered together.

As an audience of the show, I felt quite disheartened to wait with the bands consuming more than enough time for the complete set up of the gears and instruments. Be that as it may, all the performers and artists amused us with their amazing performances right after the amperes and voltages were well proper in their proportion.

While you are putting on your favourite track; relishing alone sitting inside your room, either from the record player or your headphones, urging for a "dreamscape" made-up of music, leaving your momentary reality, there's this slightest upbeat (I don't mean your song, I am not responsible for the tune you are listening to) inside your body which you don't easily notice unless you are surrounded by dozens of your kind i.e. people listening to the same song - a moment on which you are ready to roar at the top of your lungs and dance like you are the only one living on planet Earth.

Where Have All The Flowers Gone? gave you that moment right away on 27th and 28th of October. The Koi, Eyoom, Sampaa, The Cajon Diaries, Lai Lik Lei, Chaoba Thiyam, and the legendary Tapta were there to give you that precious moment. Now I bet those who didn't turn up at the festival willingly might feel a tinge of regret on missing such chances of personal amusement and recreation. It is rather unfortunate for people who did not show up, really, the festival was also on the weekends too.

Yet, Imliakum Aier (Dimapur), Jonathan Yhome (Kohima), Brigu Sahni (Mumbai), Rahul Guha Roy (Kolkata), Goodwill Music Project, the five guests to the festival didn't sadden us with their wonderful performances. Sharing and performing their fresh new originals and covers, they loved being there, even Mr. Brigu Sahni remarked the audiences too, " I wish I was with you guys dancing there !".

To maintain the spirit of Manipur's rich tradition, a Cultural Dance show was also performed by the lovely people of Khurkhul. Apart from their indigenous food and brew stalls, the locals had a Muga Phi Exhibition at the festival, exploring the real elegance of Khurkhul's silk. Since it is a crowd-funded venture, the days of the festival seems to be a bit short, but the order all the events went fairly well.

However, we hope that Where Have All The Flowers Gone? will surely nurture all the flowers to bloom the whole year someday, and inviting many more nature lovers, tourists, activists, artists. And as mentioned earlier, the festival has a lot more to do than saving our environment, the virtuosity of Folksy Triumph is the best to be complimented from our side. For the successive years, we believe that they have more interesting triumphant events up their sleeves or inside their inspiring way of reviving traditional dressing; kokyets.

* Milan Ashem wrote this article for
Milan Ashem covers live music events for Blue Bannerman Reviews. The writer is currently pursuing Manipuri Hons. in DM University and can be contacted at milanashem78(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was posted on 04 November, 2018 .

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