From 2010 to 2015, every year from November 21 to November 30. Five years down the line and the interesting question is how closely has the Manipur Sangai Festival been able to go with the brow antlered deer, the Sangai, after which it is named ? How much has this festival been able to ingrain the importance of preserving wildlife amongst the local population ? A significant question this is, for remember it was only a few years back that some eating joints at the festival venue were found selling and serving the meat of wildlife. Again how successful has the annual Sangai Festival been able to hardsell Manipur as a tourist destination to people from other parts of the country or even foreign countries ? From the annual tourist festival to the Sangai Festival, surely some progress must have been made and this can be gauged from the fact that the Ambassadors of Norway and China, the High Commissioner of Bangladesh, Councillor Ministers of Indonesia and Japan have confirmed their participation at the festival. Moreover there is also the possibility that the Golden Myanmar flight may transport tourists from abroad. Moreover it is also significant to note that Prime Minister Narendra Modi made it a point to be present on the closing day of the festival last year. It however still remains to be seen how much the Sangai Festival will be able to hardsell Manipur to the outside world. An important question this is, for the fact stands that in the past a visit to the festival venue always meant meeting acquaintances, forget about witnessing tourists who come here to have a glimpse of the festival.
The State Government seems to be putting its best foot forward to have everything ready for the festival this year. Sanjenthong is today ready before the festival and despite the threat issued by an armed outfit, everyone must be hoping that there is no repeat of 2011 when a rickshaw driver was blown apart just near the festival venue. That the Government is also serious about regulating vehicular movements can be gauged from the traffic regulations issued by the Directorate of Transport as well as the Transport Sub-Committee of the Traffic Police. Positive steps no doubt, but it should also seep into the consciousness of the political leaders that in most cases, it is their movements which hamper the smooth flow of traffic. Makes absolutely no sense to expect everyone to give them the right of way whenever any of these leaders, who come under the VIP tag, decide to visit the festival venue. In a few days time from now, the Sangai Festival will start and it is also important for the public to come to the point that in as much as the Government has a responsibility to make the festival a success, the people too are responsible in their own way. The people of Manipur will have to don the role of hosts from November 21 to November 30 and perhaps this is the opportune moment for everyone to showcase Manipur in the best manner possible.