From B Bisheswor
ITANAGAR, August 8: The 4th North-East Cultural Festival 2012 kicked-off at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, Naharlagun in Itanagar, the capital city of Arunachal Pradesh here today with Meghalaya Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma and Chief Minister of the home state Nabam Tuki attending as chief guest and guest of honour respectively.
Hundreds of delegates and participants from across the seven sister states of the North East India gathered here today to showcase and performed their respective cultural items.
The festival is being organized by the All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union, AAPSU under the aegis of North East Students Organisation, NESO under the theme “Unity through Culture”.
To mark the inaugural function, a cultural procession was held this morning from Naharlagun Govt Higher Secondary School to the venue.
Different communities and ethnic groups from seven states had participated in the procession in their respective traditional attire.
While announcing the start of the festival officially as chief guest CM of Meghalaya Dr Mukul Sangma extended greetings on behalf of his people.
He said that North-East is astorehouse of vibrant cultural identities and it cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
He also emphasizes on preservation and performance of traditional values and cultural assets of the North-East states.
“The spirit with which we are here today is to stick to the traditional values inherited from our forefathers”, he added.
Prior to his speech, a mega dance entitled as ‘Hamara Arunachal’ depicting all tribes and sub-tribes of Arunachal Pradesh was performed by a cultural troupe of the home state.
Powerful actions of Manipuri martial arts haunted the audiences.
The Nagaland delegates also performed their Naga folk song.
Speaking at the function NESO chairman Dr Samujjal Bhattacharjya said that North-East is not the grazing grounds of illegal migrants and stressed that the present day Assam imbroglio is due to the issue of illegal migrants.
In Assam more than 49 tribal villages were invaded by illegal influx, he said.
The indigenous people of Tripura have already become a microscopic group in their own land.
Now the same is happening in Manipur and the other sister states. Identities of the indigenous people of the North-East should be protected, Dr Samujjal added.
The president of the All Manipur Students Union, Thokchom Suresh in told this reporter that, as a constituent member of NESO we are participating in this festival.
“During the festival we are ready to show traditional games like Mukna (Manipuri traditional wrestling), Yubi Laakpi (Manipuri Rugby) and other indigenous games and cultural items he added.
“Protection of indigenous people of North-East and illegal influx is also our main concern.”
Later in the evening indigenous games and traditional dance were performed by various cultural troupes from constituent member delegates.
An exhibition match of Sepak-Takraw was also played by Manipur teams.
Informally the festival had begun on Tuesday evening at the same venue, marked by the screening of the first documentary film of Arunachal Pradesh titled “Mera Dharam Meri Ma” directed by Padmashree (L) Dr Bhupen Hazarika.
The said film is based on the socio-economic conditions of NEFA just after it is rename as Arunachal Pradesh.
Introduction session of the NESO members was also held.
The mega cultural event and other entertainment programmes were scheduled to be held on next day.
The festival will conclude on August 10.
It may be mentioned that the constituent members of NESO are All Assam Students Union, All Manipur Students Union, Garo Students Union, Khasi Students Union (both from Meghalaya), Mizo Zillai Pawl, Naga Students Federation and Tripura Students Federation.