(Contd from previous issue)
There are several songs and stories describing their deeds, importance helpful and romantic; and British could build up its empire throughout the world due to ships. Writers like W.H.G. Kingston and Joseph Conrad wrote stories on “navalism.” Those stories are still sagas.
Manipur Horse Riding & Polo Association organized the 8th edition of Manipur Polo International 2014 at Mapal Kangjeibung, the oldest polo ground in the world, commemorating the 150th year of historic event where the then British Army Officer Lt. Joshep Ford Sherer had taken one Manipur Polo team to Calcutta on January 30, 1864 for an exhibition match for the first time. The British Officer was honoured as the ‘Father of modern Polo” because he had introduced Manipur SagolKangjei as Polo in the event. His great great great granddaughter, Ms. Susan Ailsa Letitia Booth, England was present as a Guest of Honourat the inaugural function.
Manipur Polo International 2014 was held commencing from November 22 upto 29, 2014. Manipur Chief Minister, O. Ibobi Singh, Chairman Hill Areas Committee, Dr. ChaltonlienAmo, LokSabha M.P. Dr. Th. Meinya, Parliamentary Secretary (YAS/TSM), MairenbamPrithiviraj; MLA Heingang A/C, N. Biren Singh; MLA Khangabok A/C, O. Landhoni Devi graced the opening function as Chief Guest, President and Guests of Honour respectively. General Manager SBI, Network –II, Guwahati, PannaLal Das also attended the function as a special invitee.
Foreign teams from Poland, Thailand, United States, South Africa, England, Mongolia and France participated in the international event. Two Indian teams, India –A representing Indian Polo Association and India –B representing Manipur took part in the tournament along with the seven foreign teams.
The closing ceremony was graced by Governor of Manipur K.K. Paul and Speaker of Manipur Legislative Assembly Th. Lokeshwar Singh respectively as Chief Guest and President with Social Welfare Minister AK. Mirabai, Agriculture/Fisheries Minister Abdul Nasir, Parliamentary Secretary VungzaginVaite, MLA L. Nandakumar as guests of honour. Kolkata Zonal Manager HemantBhargava and Silchar Senior Division Manager Debi Prasad Banerjee also attended the function as special invitees.
The gracious speech of his Excellency Governor of Manipur K.K. Paul was short but extensive. Describing Manipur as a shining bright star in the field of sports in the country, he said that the game of Polo would certainly gain momentum on the national scene. He congratulated the Ministry of Communications and Department of Posts, Government of India for bringing out a beautiful stamp on Manipur Polo to mark the 8th Manipur Polo International 2014. The stamp will not only be great interest to the philatelists but will also bring Manipur into sharper national focus, he added.
He put his encouraging words as such, “you will find it interesting that the Manipur Polo International, a tournament approved by the Indian Polo Association is the only one of its kind played on Pony. The tournament is unique not only because it is played on Manipuri Pony but it is also played at the historic oldest polo ground in the world – Mapal Kangjeibung or ImphalPologround. Renewal efforts need to be made to save this breed from extinction. This tournament will help in highlighting this issue and lead to a more concerted effort to save the animal. The initiative taken by the Manipur Government to establish Pony Sanctuary at Heingang and a Pony breeding farm at Lamphelpat in Imphal West District is almost encouraging.”
Now, taking into account Manipur as the birth place of the game of Polo, India should be proud of Polo and present the game of Polo again to the world. It is an undeniable fact that India is a country which gave the world, through Mahatma Gandhi, a message of nonviolence in the first half of the nineteenth century and through Swami Vivekananda, a message of unity of all religions, unity of man in the diversity of man, unity of nature in the diversity of nature; permanent unity of religions, permanent unity of nature, permanent unity of man, in the diversity of man in Chicago’s World Parliament in 1893. The revolution brought by Gandhiji was successful and the message of Swamiji was admired and accepted by the world without exception.
Similarly India has to present, through Manipur, the game of Polo to the world with the opportunities and message for joyful coming together of all countries across the world to promote peace, harmony and compassion in this era of technological development, in this era of guided missiles amidst the world full of disorder, confusion, terrorism and conflict. In fact, the world had not seen each one of these three distinctive kinds before they were discovered.
The opening ceremony of the tournament kicked off with a traditional gift of exchange programme. After a warm welcome with blowing of conch, all the participating teams took out a march post carrying their respective national flags. All the nine captains holding their flags joined the oath taking ceremony. Renowned international polo player, T. Pradeep kumar Singh took the oath representing all the participating teams. It was followed by a theme based on Manipur “Sagol Kangjei” and Manipur pony by young artist Mangka Mayanglambam and cultural programme of dance and martial art of different group artists.
On seeing different colours of flags carried by the participating teams of the different countries during the march past programme, all the spectators of the tournament were enthused to motivate the feelings of equality and oneness and to transmit the message of underlying unity through the game of Polo. In the first match of the tournament. South Africa defeated France by 7-4 goals. Last year’s champion, India –B (Manipur) team lifted the trophy of the 8th Manipur Polo International 2014 defeating South Africa by a margin of 7-5 score to claim the championship title in the final at Mapal Kangjeibung (Imphal Pologround).
Public and private enterprises had contributed in cash for the promotion of the game of Polo. Panna Lal Das, General Manager, SBI Network –II, Guwahati handed over a cheque of Rs. 12 lakh in favour of Manipur Horse Riding and Polo Association on the closing of the tournament, LIC, Kolkata and Silchar also contributed handful amount for the tournament.
By the turn of the 20th century and down to the current century India has been taking the most prominent, most significant part in building bridges between the west and the east by cultivating understanding that the circumstances of the modern world do not permit any culture or nation to remain isolated and insulated. India is fortunate in having the means to construct such bridges, the mobility to acquire the learning of other cultures, and the human contact that enhances tolerance of other culture and nations.
However with the approach of the 21st century Indian has witnessed a host of changes and inventions. The most important of these are that those means discovered by Indian to construct such bridges are seeking to find patronage beyond the traditional domain.
The game of polo also needs the same patronage and Manipur should not be left alone in promoting Polo. India has to take big role and sole responsibilities to make the clarion call upon the countries enjoying the game of Polo to come to an international common Polo ground together instead of playing the game on their part individually. If India is to carry on successfully its mission for unity of minds in diversity, peace, non-violence and a prosperous world with a value system derived from its civilization’s heritage, India should take opportunities to rediscover such mission through the game of Polo which Manipur gave to the world in a manner and scale not previously seen. (Concluded)