From district level to State level Back after 2 years
Give credit where it is due. From village level then to district level and today a State level festival is being held in the name of Shirui Lily and this is where credit ought to be given to the BJP led Government at Imphal. A State level festival from a village level then a district level festival and today, it is not just the Lily which has registered in the minds of everybody, but the village and the hill where the Lily has its abode-Shirui. Here it is important to also note that while Shirui village was known to the rest of Manipur, particularly amongst the valley people of the State, as Shiroy/Siroy, today it is no longer so with the coming of the State level festival aptly christened Shirui Lily Festival. It is with a sense of satisfaction that The Sangai Express can look back ten or so years back, when it suggested, ‘Sangai Festival, Tamenglong Orange Festival now why not a Shirui Lily Festival’, to see this coming to fruition now. Shirui Lily, the one and only type of flower found at Shirui Kashong (the hill range at Shirui village), has today catapulted not only Ukhrul district to the limelight but the nondescript little village situated about 15 kilometres from Ukhrul district headquarters. The distance which can be known from the click of the mouse, thanks to Wikipedia, is about the distance as one goes by the now pucca road. Anyone who had the opportunity to go to Shirui village back in the late 70s and early 80s will remember that travelling to the village from Ukhrul district headquarters was about trekking through the jungles (short cut, as it was known) over a distance of about 7 kms. Those were the days when climbing Shirui Kashong, the abode of the Lily, meant waking up at the crack of dawn, and then trudging all the way up to the peak. Now things have certainly changed with motorable road (at least up to a point on Shirui Kashong) and one does not need to start the foot journey from the village to Kashong at the crack of dawn. Apart from being the brand ambassador of the Lily and the Shirui village, the Shirui Lily Festival has also given a more definitive push to the understanding of Home Stay, with the more enterprising folks of Ukhrul district headquarters rolling out the red carpet and displaying the famed hospitality of the Tangkhul people. A win-win situation this is for everyone. An opportunity for the people to let their hair down, soak in the ambience of Ukhrul district and Shirui village, experience the hospitality of the Tangkhul folks and on a larger scale promote people to people contact, amongst the folks of Manipur.
Back after a two year hiatus, the two year break necessitated by the Covid outbreak and the accompanying Nationwide lockdown-This is the Shirui Lily Festival. What has Manipur learnt from the earlier three editions of the Festival ? Difficult to say if anyone has mulled over this poser with the seriousness it deserves. Should the enthusiasm be understood only within the context of the four days festival or should it promote anything that should be mutually beneficial to the people. Important to acknowledge that it is during this festival that all doors at Ukhrul and Shirui village would be open to the visitors. Let the opening of the door to welcome the visitors be the eye opener that there are common threads running through all the people divided by terms such as Hillmen and Valley people, which sound very artificial. Let it also be the opportunity for everyone, the people of Ukhrul, Shirui and the adjoining villages that their Khani is Ani or Kathum is Ahum/Ahoom or Mati is Mari to the Meitei/Meetei people. It is the similarity which should be highlighted and not the artificial differences which today seem to have become divisive. It is such a situation that alien forces are known to have exploited and this is a lesson which history has taught mankind. The similarity in language and tone should cover other aspects of life too. Let the spirit of Shirui Lily Festival spread all over. Happy Shirui Lily Festival to one and all.