Curtains down on Shirui Lily Fest The coming of age of Shirui

Good job, one should say. From a village level, to a district level to a State level festival and surely the Shirui Lily Festival has come a long way. What was once just the name of a flower, with only a few actually equipped with the knowledge that this is the only type of flower found in Manipur, Shirui village, the home of the said Lily, was only  just a name to many in Manipur too. It was only after the BJP led Government came to power in 2017 that the flower was given its due via the Shirui Lily Festival. Decades back, Shirui was just a non-descript village, the only time it came to the consciousness of the people of Manipur being when there was a tense stand off between the Assam Rifles and the NSCN (IM) over the presence of a camp of the rebel group at Shirui back in 2009 or when some people of the said village were beaten to death by some NSCN (IM) cadres back in the early 90s. Such was its distance from the consciousness of the people, that to many in the valley districts of Manipur, Shirui village was Shiroy/Siroy village and it was only after the Lily Festival was ‘promoted’ to a State level festival, that its valid name struck the consciousness of the people. From 2017 to 2022, with a break of two years in between (2020 and 2021) due to the Covid pandemic, the Shirui Lily Festival has certainly come some distance. From the rough sketches received at the office of this newspaper, the festival this time drew an even bigger crowd than the earlier years. The beauty pageant, now aptly rechristened, Miss Shirui Lily, from its earlier avatar Miss Spring, has certainly begun to draw crowds, even attracting the attention of the organisers of Rubaru Miss India Elite contest. Capping this off is the wild card entry to the Rubaru Miss India contest allotted to the winner of this year’s Miss Shirui Lily title Levin Luithui, a young girl from Langdang village, which is located just next to Shirui village and lies along the Shirui-Ukhrul road. Shirock was another notable face of the Shirui Lily Festival, with Monuments a British progressive metal band giving a taste of rock music to the die hard fans, of which there are numerous in Manipur. Here it would do well for the people of Shirui, Ukhrul and Manipur not to forget the stellar role taken up by former MLA of Ukhrul Assembly Constituency Alfred Kanngam Arthur to give his personal touch to Shirock in the first three editions of Shirui Lily Festival.
If Monuments helmed the Shirock then there was Miss Diva Universe (2020), Adline Mewis Quadros Castelino, who was the show stopper and added that much needed dose of glamour to the festival and made it all that more colourful. It is the fifth month of 2022, but one can say with a certain sense of conviction that the Shirui Lily Festival seems to have given the perfect push to the year and one hopes the goodwill and the camaraderie between the people of Ukhrul, Shirui and the people from the valley districts who thronged Ukhrul and Shirui during the festival goes some significant way in defining people to people relationship. Remember the point stressed by Forest and Environment Minister Th Biswajit in his address during the concluding function of the festival, ‘Shirui Lily has brought people closer’. One hopes that the homestay facility or arrangement goes some significant way in making people understand the living style of each other. This is one sure way of promoting  people to people contact, which is so much needed. More however needs to be done, in so far as the organising of the festival is concerned. A full 24 hours after the festival wound up, there is as yet no official confirmation on the approximate number of footfalls. How many from outside Manipur actually came to attend the festival ? How many from outside Ukhrul district but from within Manipur visited Ukhrul and Shirui during the festival ? Spelling out these details can certainly go some way in letting the people know of the attraction quotient of the festival. For starters give some finesse to the media co-ordination part. Set up an information centre with contact numbers so that information can be had. Brush up this point for nothing helps a festival better than media management. The onus for this should lie with the organising body.