TURA, Nov 11: The 100 drums Wangala festival of the Garos came to a close on Saturday with the grand assembly of the drummers amidst fun and merriment and collage of vibrant colours.
“Through Wangala festival, we can showcase the rich and vibrant culture of the Garos and connect with the rest of the world”, said Meghalaya sports and youth affairs minister Zenith Sangma, who represented the government as Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma was not able to attend the biggest cultural festival of Garo hills.
Zenith lauded the effort of the organising committee for holding the festival for the past 40 years and making it grandeur each passing year. “100 drums Wangala festival is unique in many ways. It depicts the Garo way of life and their agrarian culture”, the minister said, while stating that government would continue to support the festival and ensure that the festival is taken to its new height.
“The state government has been promoting cultural events of different tribes of Meghalaya as it benefits the local community and promotes tourism. It would be wise to innovate and package the festival in a way that attracts tourist, so that maximum benefit can be availed by the local communities”, he said.
The minister also handed over a cheque of Rs. 20 lakh to the organisers. Wangala is a post harvest thanksgiving festival, wherein the Songsarek (non-Christian Garos) pay their obeisance to the great giver deity Misi Saljong for good harvest. It is observed in all non-Christian villages of Garo hills, however, the 100 drums Wangala festival depicts the practice of the Songsarek for the larger audience, who are unable to visit the villages to explore the festival.
Contingent from Assam’s Karbi Anglong and students from Shillong College also took part in the festival this year. The festival also saw various indigenous sports and cultural competitions.
Tourist from far and beyond including Germany, USA, England came to witness the festival and enrich themselves with rituals like Rugala which is performed a day ahead of the Wangala by the Nokma (village Chief) in which the offering of the first hand special rice-beer along with cooked rice and vegetables are given to Misi Saljong, the Giver and Cha∙chat So∙a ceremony or burning of the incense at the pillar of his house performed on the next day to mark the beginning of week long Wangala festival.
During the function, the outgoing chairman of the Wangala Committee L K Marak was also felicitated for his 25 years of dedicated service and contribution towards the welfare of the society.
The 10 dance contingent who participated in the competition were Gondenggre, Watregre, Rengsangre-Selbalgre, Gambarigri, Rom-Tingmangre, Wadagre, Sadolbra, Chidaogre, Dingnabra and Darichikgre. The winner of this year’s Wangala competition is Chidaogre followed byWadagre and Dingnabra dance troupes.