THE SUNNY SIDE OF LIFE

Airports India - - MANIPUR -

The oval shaped val­ley is sur­rounded by blue green hills, rich in art and tra­di­tion has in­spired de­scrip­tion such as the Switzer­land of the East with its cas­cad­ing rapids, tripling rivers, va­ri­eties of flow­ers, ex­otic blooms and lakes. The peo­ple of Ma­nipur in­clude Meitei, Na­gas, Kuki-chin­mizo and Gorkhas groups and Mus­lims and other colour­ful com­mu­ni­ties which have lived in com­plete har­mony for cen­turies.

Ma­nipur, lo­cated in North-east In­dia, is pop­u­larly known as Jewel of In­dia. This lit­tle cor­ner is a par­adise on Earth where Mother Na­ture has been ex­tra gen­er­ous in her bounty. Least touched and least dis­cov­ered Ma­nipur prom­ises to be the great tourist dis­cov­ery of the 21st cen­tury. There are peo­ple whose folk­lore, myths and leg­ends, dances, in­dige­nous games and mar­tial arts, ex­otic hand­looms and hand­i­crafts are in­vested with the mys­tique of na­ture. ‘Ma­nipur San­gai Fes­ti­val’ is an an­nual cal­en­dar event of Ma­nipur Tourism held from 21st to 3oth Novem­ber that strives to show­case the tourism po­ten­tial of the State in the fields of art and cul­ture, hand­loom, hand­i­crafts, in­dige­nous sports, cui­sine, mu­sic and ad­ven­ture sports of the State. This has been done to show­case the unique­ness of the shy and gen­tle Brow-antlered Deer pop­u­larly known as the San­gai Deer which is found only in Ma­nipur at the float­ing Keibul Lam­jao Na­tional Park in Lok­tak Lake and to fur­ther pro­mote Ma­nipur as a world class tourism des­ti­na­tion. Akin to a bowl-shaped val­ley sur­rounded by hills of the Sub-hi­malayan ranges, Ma­nipur has Na­ga­land in its north, Mi­zo­ram in its south and As­sam in its West, while shar­ing com­mon in­ter­na­tional border with Myan­mar in the east. Ev­ery year the Gov­ern­ment of Ma­nipur, Spear­headed by the Tourism Depart­ment, cel­e­brates the Ma­nipur San­gai Fes­ti­val from 21st to 30th of Novem­ber. The Fes­ti­val strives to show­case and pro­mote the best of

what the state has to of­fer to the world in terms of art and cul­ture, hand­loom, hand­i­crafts & fine arts, in­dige­nous sports, cuisines & mu­sic, eco & ad­ven­ture sports as well as the scenic nat­u­ral beauty of the land. More­over, the Fes­ti­val has as­sumed great sig­nif­i­cance in re­cent years and the 2011 edi­tion es­sen­tial cel­e­brates eth­nic di­ver­sity of Ma­nipur So­ci­ety. Par­tic­i­pa­tion of var­i­ous In­dian States, for­eign traders and cul­tural troupes in the Fes­ti­val this year will make it grander in scale and style. Fur­ther many en­ter­tain­ing items like Fash­ion Shows, Rock Shows, etc. The Fes­ti­val is the right venue for in­no­va­tive peo­ple with in­no­va­tive ideas meet on a com­mon plat­form. There are var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties un­der­taken dur­ing the ten day ‘Fes­ti­val’ in­clud­ing cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties at Bheigy­chan­dra Open Air Theater (BOAT) lo­cated at the main venue of the ‘Fes­ti­val’ i.e. Hapta Kang­jei­bung, ad­ven­ture and eco-tourism ac­tiv­i­ties as Power Paraglid­ing, Wa­ter Ski­ing, Wind Surf­ing, Cav­ing and Trekking etc. con­ducted at dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions of the State. Events for Polo are or­ga­nized at Mapa Kang­jei­bung and in­dige­nous games like Mukna Kang­jei, Thang-ta, Yubi Lakpi, Sago Kang­jei and Kang at Mapa Kang­jei­bung and Khu­man Lam­pak Sports Com­plex, Imphal. The ‘Fes­ti­val’ is a ma­jor plat­form for show­cas­ing the hand­looms and hand­i­crafts of the State. Hun­dreds of makeshift stalls are set at the main venue of the ‘Fes­ti­val’ to show­case the tra­di­tional hand­looms and hand­i­crafts, the var­ied and dis­tinct lo­cal cui­sine of the dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties of the State and var­i­ous other prod­ucts. Dur­ing Ma­nipur San­gai Fes­ti­val, del­e­gates from dif­fer­ent for­eign coun­tries like Myan­mar, China, Thai­land, Bangladesh, Malaysia, U.K., Poland, Ger­many, Aus­tralia, Africa etc. par­tic­i­pated. Some of th­ese par­tic­i­pants set up their Stalls to show­case their tra­di­tional items dur­ing the ‘Fes­ti­val’ and also par­tic­i­pated in In­ter­na­tional Polo ex­hi­bi­tion match held dur­ing this ten day fes­ti­val.

The Ma­nipuri have a rich cul­ture. The­atre has been part of the Lai­haraoba fes­ti­vals since time im­memo­rial. The­atre in Ma­nipur is di­vided into re­li­gious and sec­u­lar, based on texts. The for­mer is the adap­ta­tion of re­li­gious epics or some episodes from them, per­formed mainly in the sa­cred sphere such as tem­ples. Within this, Gau­ralila (the story of the

child­hood days of Caitanya Ma­haprabhu), San­jenba (an episode from the play be­tween Kr­ishna and his cows and his Gopis), and Udukhol (an episode from Kr­ishna’s child­hood days) can be in­cor­po­rated. They are sea­sonal per­for­mances com­mand­ing spir­i­tual de­vo­tions among the au­di­ence. A clas­si­cal form of Ma­nipuri dance based and in­spired by the theme of Lord Kr­ishna and his beloved Radha’s love story and the devo­tion of the Gopis (com­pan­ions) to­ward Lord Kr­ishna. This grace­ful and slow move­ment of the dance makes it one of the most ac­claimed clas­si­cal dances of In­dia. The cos­tume is el­e­gant, as there are nicely em­broi­dered clothes that give lus­tre to the beauty of the art. This dance is very ex­cit­ing dance. Iskcon led by Bhak­tis­varupa Damodar Swami has put Ma­nipuri Rasa Leela on Global map with its per­for­mance in many pres­ti­gious events like many World Con­fer­ence on science and re­li­gion, United Re­li­gions Ini­tia­tive con­fer­ence, Kumbha Mela and many more.

A picturesque place is what Ma­nipur is. The 15th cen­tury Vishnu Tem­ple built of pe­cu­liarly small bricks sup­pos­edly of Chi­nese in­flu­ence dur­ing the reign of King Kiyamba is of a his­tor­i­cal im­por­tance.

Bish­nupur is also fa­mous for its chis­elled stoneware. Lok­tak Lake about 48 Kms. from Imphal, is the largest fresh wa­ter lake in the North East Re­gion. From the Tourist Bun­glow set atop Sen­dra Is­land, visi­tors get a bird’s eye view of life on the Lakesmall is­lands that are ac­tu­ally float­ing weeds on which the Lake-dwellers live in the back­drop of the shim­mer­ing blue wa­ter of the Lake, labyrinthine boat routes and colour­ful wa­ter plants. The Sen­dra Tourist Home with an at­tached Cafe­te­ria is an ideal tourist spot. Boat­ing and other wa­ter sports are or­gan­ised here in Takmu Wa­ter Sports Com­plex. The only float­ing Na­tional Park in the world, on the Lok­tak Lake is the last nat­u­ral habi­tat of the San­gai (Rucervus el­dii el­dii) the danc­ing deer of Ma­nipur. A glimpse of the deer in this unique wet­land ecosys­tem is a must for any wildlife en­thu­si­ast. Other wildlife to men­tion a few are: Hog deer, Ot­ter and a host of wa­ter fowls and mi­gra­tory birds can also be sighted dur­ing Novem­ber to March. The for­est Depart­ment of Ma­nipur main­tains watch tow­ers and two rest houses within the park. Red Hill is a hillock about 16 kms. from Imphal on Tid­dim Road (NH - 150). It is a thrilling spot where the Bri­tish and the Ja­panese

fought a fierce bat­tle dur­ing World War II. War Veter­ans had con­structed In­dia Peace Me­mo­rial a mon­u­ment in mem­ory of Ja­panese sol­diers who died in the bat­tle. It is a place of pil­grim­age for Ja­panese tourists. 45 kms. from Imphal, and sit­u­ated near the Lok­tak lake, this town is one of the main cen­tres of early Meitei folk cul­ture with the an­cient tem­ple of the pre-hindu de­ity, Lord Thangjing, sit­u­ated here. In the month of May, men and women, dressed in colour­ful tra­di­tional cos­tumes sing and dance in hon­our of the Lord at the Moirang Lai Haraoba which is a rit­ual dance fes­ti­val held ev­ery year. This town also has a spe­cial place in the history of the In­dian Free­dom strug­gle. It was at Moirang that the flag of the In­dian Na­tional Army was first un­furled on April 14, 1944. The INA Mu­seum con­tain­ing let­ters, pho­to­graphs, badges of ranks and other mem­o­ra­bilia re­minds the visi­tors of the no­ble sac­ri­fices made by the INA un­der the charis­matic lead­er­ship of Ne­taji Sub­has Chan­dra Bose.

Ma­nipur is a land of fes­ti­vals, mer­ri­ment and mirth all the year round. A year in Ma­nipur presents a cy­cle of fes­ti­vals. Hardly a month passes with­out a fes­ti­val or two. To the Ma­nipuri’s, fes­ti­vals are the sym­bols of their cul­tural, so­cial and re­li­gious as­pi­ra­tions which, be­sides re­mov­ing the monotony of life by pro­vid­ing phys­i­cal di­ver­sions, men­tal recre­ation and emo­tional out­let, it also helps them lead a bet­ter and fuller life.

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