The exotic Northeast India have a plethora of attractions that can lure travellers and tourists from all over India and world. While you can marvel at the natural beauty and the breathtaking landscape of the region, the colourful culture and tribes of the state are also one of the major attractions of these states. And you can get to see all these attractions together at the festivals promoted by the State tourism Boards.
Sangai Festival is one such festival celebrated at Manipur. The festival aims to showcase the culture of the state as well as serves to promote tourism in the state. Organised every year by the Tourism Department of Manipur, the festival was first started in 2010 and has been growing in scale and grandeur ever since. Sangai Festival is named after the state animal of Manipur, the unique and rare Sangai deer or the brow-antlered deer only found in the state of Manipur. Infact, the Sangai deer is deeply rooted in the culture of the state. This day, Sangai Festival is one of the largest festivals celebrated in Manipur. The festival is celebrated in the month of November every year and serves as a platform to promote Manipur as a world-class tourism destination. It is a grand affair and celebrates the culture, handicrafts, indigenous games, tribal music and dance and other traditions of the state.
The Sangai festival remains chock-a-block with activities so that the visitors never have a dull moment! The state government actively promotes the cultural extravaganza to enhance tourism prospect of Manipur. You will definitely need a few days to experience the diversity and nuances of life and culture in Manipur which are showcased at the festival. Sangai festival has grown in many ways. Not only the people from India, the festival attracts tourists from the southeast Asian countries as well. . Last year in the Sangai Festival 2017, had international participation from various countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore and more.
What can you expect at the Sangai Festival?
Sangai Festival celebrates and promotes the cultural heritage of Manipur through songs, dance and various indigenous art forms that are part of the Manipuri tribes and people. Indigenous sports are another major highlight of the festival. The major attractions of the Sangai Festival are:
Dances have been a part of Manipuri culture and tradition. Ras Leela, the state’s classical dance form is a major part of the performances in Sangai Festival. Ras Leela of Manipur is famous worldwide. Other traditional dance performances include Kabui Naga dance, Bamboo dance, Maibi dance, Lai Haraoba dance, Khamba Thoibi dance.
Adventure and sports:
Performances of the indigenous sports of Manipue is another major draw of the Sangai festival. The locals display their skills at the famous martial art of Manipur - Thang Ta (a combination Spear & Sword skills). Manipur is also said to be the birthplace of modern polo. Sagol Kangjei is the indigenous form of polo that is widely played in Manipur. Other sports that forms a part of the festival are Yubi-Lakpi (a game played with greased coconut like rugby) and Mukna Kangjei (a game that combines hockey and wrestling).
Not only the indigenous sports, you can also expect to see and enjoy adventure sports as well at the various locations of the festival. Trekking, white water rafting and parasailing usually remains a part of the adventure and outdoor activities organised during the festival.
Handicrafts and Handlooms:
The Sangai Festival is a major place where the handicrafts and handlooms of Manipur are on display. The festival is the place where the artisan and weavers showoff their creativity and talent. You will get the beautiful Manipuri shawls and bamboo handicrafts during this time.
Food and cuisine:
Which festival can be complete without food and drinks? Sangai Festival is also no exception. All the special and exotic Manipuri dishes can be found at the food stalls in the festival grounds. Manipur’s famous dishes include Nga-thongba (fish curry), Iromba (a dish prepared with boiled vegetables and fermented fish), Bora (pakoda), Paknam (a baked cake of gram flour mixed with other ingredients), Singju (a spicy hot traditional salad), and Brown-rice Kheer and all there are available at the food stalls in the festival.
Other important activities include Keibul Lamjao Ballet, traditional boat race, international polo between many countries and a theatre festival. The Sangai Festival is all a glitzy and happening affair in Manipur.
Sangai Festival 2018
This year, Sangai Festival will be celebrated during November 21 to November 30, 2018. This year, unlike the previous editions, the festival will be organized at different locations in Imphal and Bishnupur District. Keibul Lamjao & Loktak Lake will host the opening ceremony, water sports and cultural programmes
Other venues are:
Hapta Kangjeibung and Bheigyachandra Open Air Theatre (BOAT) – This is the main venue of the festival and will host the cultural programmes and the closing ceremony.
Mapal Kangjeibung and Khuman Lampak, Kangshang (Indoor Stadium) – This will host the indigenous games, adventure sports and traditional games.
And while you are ay Manipur, explore Imphal and the Loktak Lake. At Imphal, do not miss the Kangla Fort, Ema Keithel, War Memorial and the Manipur State Museum. Ema Keithel is an interesting place – a market where the traders are only women. Loktak Lake is the largest floating lake in India.
How to reach Imphal:
The best way to reach Imphal is by flight. Imphal is connected with flights from Delhi, Kolkata and Guwahati.
The nearest railhead would be Dimapur. From Dimapur, it takes almost 8 hours to reach Imphal. You can also reach Imphal by bus from Guwahati.