TODAY -

The impact of the Shirui Lily festival

Dr Robert Shimray *

A view of Ukhrul town from  Shirui Hills during 2nd Shirui Lily Festival on 25 April 2018
A view of Ukhrul town from Shirui Hills during 2nd Shirui Lily Festival on 25 April 2018 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam



Salutation:

At the outset of this article, I, on behalf of all the communities along with the consent of the same, would like to appreciate the hard work of our respected Chief Minister N. Biren Singh and his ministry team.

It is obeserved of his relentless efforts in bringing about a whole round development to our mother-state Manipur. Recent of such is the induction of the "Shirui Lily Festival" as state festival.

From listening to every query- the wishes and wants of every individual, as permitted, having set aside a special day every month listening to every note of music from different communities and directions to reaching out to the people through his personal presence to every nook and corner of the state, and the benevolent act of his highness, such as the old age pension, free medical check up for the elderly speak in volumn that he really cares about the welfare of his people. Sir, may your ministry find success in procuring the betterment of the people.

Introduction:

As for today, we would like to look into the aspects of festival. In it, we shall consider to ponder on what festival is, what are some of the adventages and disadvantages and out of which, how has it impacted the lives of the people.

What is festival ? As per wikipedia - "A festival is an event ordinarily celebrated by a community and centering on some characteristics aspect of that community and its religion or cultures. Food, drinks and costume are the vital resources of festivals."

"A festival is a special occasion of feasting or celebration, usually with a religious focus.Aside from religion, and sometimes folklore, another significant origin is agriculture. Food (and consequently agriculture) is so vital that many fetivals are associated with harvest time."

What is the importance of festivals ?

o It helps us to keep connected to our roots, culture, values and origin, and to preserve it.
o It helps people come together and celebrate.
o It's a time to forget all the chaos of life and to embrace good hopes.
o A time to embrace all the hard work done in the past and to celebrate its reward and fruits.
o Helps to document culture in an undocumented manner.
o Tells the tales of survival throughout the years in the way of celebration.
o Festival celebration opens the door of present life's understanding through what life was then.
o It tells you about mythologies and elevates your spirit, giving you lessons from inside those mythologies. You celebrate the good will and teachings you get from them.

Festival is a time when the whole community gets directed towards an atmosphere full of good hopes, happiness, joy and celebrations.It simply uplifts your bad mood and fills you with positive energy. It gives you an opportunity to forget all the not so good events of past and initiates fresh and new beginnings. You can also utilize this opportunuty in all other positive aspects you can think of, because your spirit is high.

Disadvantages in the context of Shirui Lily festival:

As two faces has a coin, the merriment of festival celebration has its ugly side too. We shall look into some of the not too pretty side of it.

1. Financial Accountability:

Festival, being a time of celebration with joy and happiness, and to realise it, it has to cost you a struggle with the involvement of financial accountability. Either you are ready or borrow it from someone else, you got to spend it. It is of a usual saying and a practice that, people, and Tangkhul in particular, would spend a hard day's work wage on eating and drinking, and hence, they would come home empty handed.

As carefree people, who don't mind sharing, spending what ever they have with others, one can imagine how much must have been spent individually and as a whole during a week-long festival. Nothing much left, most of the denizens have to worry for their day to day survival, especially affecting much the parents in meeting the demands even in clearing the school fees of their school going children.

2. Morale Accountability:

In the mood of festivity, one has to get along with the rest. In doing so, as many have already been in the practice of such as eating, drinking and many other immoral activities, we see many new comers- the juveniles getting involved in all the doings. One can hear the whispers in the air as to how many youngsters were caught involved in immoral activities, for which many of them had to pay the price by getting the punishment from the higher authority.

What an experience ! People can't wait for the next year of such festivity to come. They have tasted. They are willing to bear what ever the brunt, consequences and the cost it could incure upon them.

Involved are of those many school going children, affecting the mentality of the students at such young age. Being a Christian dominated district, today, the fervent prayers of the parents are being answered through the outcome. Morality, especially of the younsters are depleted against the wishes and prayers of the many God-fearing parents for their upcoming children. It has gone viral. What a blessedness!

3. Educational Accountabilty

Manipur state is blessed with all sorts of bundhs, strikes, curfews etc. affecting the very normal lives of the people. Beside this, as people who adhere to all sorts of social & culture norms to this day, would have all kinds of festivals to observe.

Taken all together, the most affected is the student group, resulting to low attendance of school days not being able to cover the required syllabus. As an opinion sharing, why not the festivity be shortened to a day or two!

4. Social Welfare Accountability:

Through the initiation of the Shirui Lily Festival, no doubt, liveliness abounds, bringing closer relationship with the hill and the valley. One can see the creativity and ability of the many talented individuals as displayed in those many stalls in Long Ground during the day, and in the night, the agglomeration of all the talents through singing, playing the instruments, dancing and powerful speeches, echoing the talks of it days together in various places even after the festival concluded.

One of the distinctive features of the festival is the presence of the foreigner rock bands, called "Queensryche" & "Steelheart", entertaining the people to the maximum. Further, with the presence of those foreigners the festival became an international one.

One may not be able to figure out the exact amount spent during the festival, but as a state festival I could imagine as to how much the government had spend. And as rumoured, how much was spent on those foreigners coming- amounting to the tune above crore. As social being we need to spend time together in order to bring better ties with one another. But on the other hand, look at the pathetic road condition.

In the name of the the festival Ukhrul town had a clean-up drive, road leveled and tar smeared upon it. As time go by and with the onset of the early monsoon rain, we see the earth pushed through the smeared tar. In the context of the present situation the question is, wouldn't it be better to have spent the amount in making the road than on inviting the foreigners?

If so, as a frequent commuter, the road condition would have been far better with quality. One would surely agree to say that those so-called foreigner bands were not really better off then our own local artists.

Conclusion:

In a community, as social being, we cannot deny the importance of festivals. It is the lifeline, the pivotal point through which it gives meaning and purpose, and the sense of worth living in life. For in that, one way or the other, every single individual is reponsible in building up a community.

But at the same time, looking into all the pros and cons have to be put into consideration to see if there can be any chances of adverse affect as an outcome. In doing so, success and fruitfulness is sure to abound.

Thanks to the authorities for initiating the Shirui Lily Festival. But mind you, for it is felt that, out of the-good-intention, observation of something to reconsider is felt to be the need of the hour, lest it may go out of hand!


* Dr Robert Shimray wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is Principal, Maringmi Memorial School, Phungreitang, Ukhrul, Manipur.
This article was posted on June 24, 2018.


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