Last Year, somewhere between 21st to 30th November 2011
“Hey, there is a tourism festival going on in Imphal now”, I exclaimed in excitement to my friends (Friends from outside the territorial boundaries of Manipur, who were here for the first time)
“Alright take us there, we are dying to experience Manipur”, said my friends.
Well, when reaching the venue of the fest, all the excitements and restlessness didn’t stay with us for long. It was a quick bye and it (excitement) parted with us in just a blink of foggy eyes. Whatsoever, was going on there in Hapta Kangjeibung/Palace Ground, Imphal, we took a stroll all over the place. While when we were in blank state of mind, one of my friends cried out “Rubie, are you sure you brought us to the tourism fest, looks like we are in the middle of mela /fete/ expo kind of an event”. I stood there numb and quiet, not knowing what to answer him. Respecting my sentiments and feelings one of them said “Heyy, cheer up, we are really impressed by the cultural programme at the amphitheater, it sure zeal with the tourism fest” …….this made me little bit light (only for a while).
Above and Below lines or write-up is what I actually felt and experienced (before, during and after ) stepping my foot in to the venue of Sangai Festival 2011 (am sure majority felt the same), so this is in ‘NO WAY’ disrespect or offence to the organizers and managers or whoever are part of the fest.
Just at the entrance of the festival (here I don’t find it apt to prefix tourism before the word festival) we were indeed unfortunate to be greeted by the men in uniform with heavy duty guns and with more heavier words and tongue. This was more than enough to kill our moods for the fest, which we had pre-set before we got out for the fest. Crossing the gate, we were greeted with rows and rows of stall (cold look- tin wall stalls). Hey, before I go on with the tale of stalls, I find it necessary and compulsory to appreciate one and all who have come to open stalls and contribute their best to the fest. My special thanks and appreciations to the ones who have flew down across the ocean to open stalls. However, they should have been invited to do their business in the international trade fair /expo or fete, where we talk exclusively only about business.
One moment I thought to myself ‘woowww!!!!’, at least, they have thought of the disaster management and kept medical set-ups or office ready for any eventualities, accidents or casualties’. I was so sorry to even have that thought when I learned that, actually these medicinal setups were opening stalls and doing business there. Ohh…. What so relation with the tourisms fest and medical setups?
You take a stroll in one lane of stalls, you feel like you are walking through one of the galis of Thangal bazaar where your head keeps banging on the knick and knacks hanging on the top and sides of the tight unventilated stores.
Alright, we have walked for a while now doing nothing crossing our eyes to all the not-so- attractive things around us, we were hungry . So hunt for the place to eat. It didn’t take us long to find the food court. Hygiene and neat presentation is what people look forward to when it comes to feeling our empty and hungry stomachs. I felt the food court area was the most dustiest part of the fest.
I totally understand and know the needed hard work, time, labour and funds to put the productions for an event. It sure must have taken a lot of determination to put up the structures at Hapta Kangjeibung. But whatever is being put up there doesn’t at all come close to be called as tourism festivals. It could have been less confusing if it has been name as ‘trade fair. For sure the festival or the mela is being enjoyed by the general publics who have been suffering from the problems of bandhs and blockades, who have been deprived of the much needed recreations (quote from local dairy). However, I strongly feel that the general public have not been shown the clearer picture of how and what ‘tourism fest’ should be and look like? General people or lay men have been forced to accept that a fest or mela or a party, where there are lots of things for sale, from spoons to necklace (which of course are not of the local or regional products) are available – is a tourism fest. Yet, if things are to be sold in the tourism fest, it has to be in a smaller scale and the local and regional products and produce are to given upmost priority. At Hapta Kangjeibung, it was quite a depressing picture where our local products and produce were overshadowed or surpassed by the things from outside and things which are no way related or could be connected to tourism festivals. So here the organizers has to focus lot more on this, and local dairies (that reaches to al the doors) need to get connected with general mass and educate one and all about the features of the tourism fest so that next time everyone knows how to differentiate between the ‘tourism fest’ and ‘bazaar’.
Now I am all smiles to write the followings. The Manipur Sangai festivals 2011 didn’t totally let us down. The cultural programme that happened in the BOAT for sure pulled up for the lost, which has been depicted and shown just outside the amphitheater. Once you are in the BOAT, you can truly feel Manipur. All the communities in their full on traditional colourful attires presenting their smashing performance under one covering, and this is what I called presenting our culture to the outsiders/tourist. And also my genuine appreciations for organizing traditional and local sporting activities at Mapal Kangjeibung, this can be appropriately defined as celebrating a Tourism Festival. My big thanks to all the troupes and event manager for putting up the cultural shows, which actually ‘SAVE’ me from severe embarrassment from my (outsider) friends.
Mr. Maisnam Rubie