Shirui Lily Festival or mud festival ?

Moirangthem John Singh
Shirui lily festival 2022 which is a 4 day long festival was held  in the Ukhrul district of Manipur from May 25 till May 28 of this year. Shirui lily, the state flower of Manipur, starts to flower in the last week of May. So,this festival is held every year in the last week of May. But ,the month of May also marks the onset of summer and rainy season in Manipur.  The question is - Is the month of May the right time to celebrate the Shirui festival?
 A look into the major festivals of Manipur tell us that most of the important festivals of Manipur fall either in spring, autumn or winter but not in the rainy season.  Let's take a look into when the popular festivals of Manipur fall into. Holi or yaoshang ,the festival of colours usually falls in the month of February or March  which is spring in India. Another major festival Ningol Chakkouba falls in the month of November, which is autumn or winter in  India. Durga Puja also falls in October which again is autumn. Gain Ngai festival, an important festival of Zeliangrong community, falls in the month of November or December. Kut another important festival of the Kuki community falls in the month of November and so on. These trends tell us that people of Manipur since time immemorial had avoided the rainy season to celebrate festivals. Why wouldn’t they do so when  Manipur is one of the rainiest states in India  and it's not practical to gather people in large numbers during the rainy season.
Besides, the infrastructure of the State is not in such a good condition that we can celebrate a festival at any time of the year. For instance, who would like to travel in the muddy roads in a rainy season as it may put them in a nightmare rather than in a festive mood. Or does the Ukhrul district have large indoor stadiums where the events can be organised? The answer is a clear ‘no’. Or who would like to go for outdoor camping or activities in the rainy or summer season?
Let's have a look at some of the important sporting events and how the events were organised according to the climatic condition of the place. Sporting events are practically festivals as they also witness a huge congregation of people. Commonwealth Games 2010 which was held in Delhi was shifted to October as this is the month with lower average daily temperature and least rainfall. The Fifa Football World Cup which is held normally in the month of June -July has been shifted to November to avoid  the intense summer heat of Qatar . All these were necessary to make the event a grand success.
Shirui festival is playing an important role in bridging the gap between the people of the plain and those of the hills in recent times. This festival has become a platform for the people from the plains or those from mainland India to learn the culture and admire the beauty of the hill districts of Manipur which otherwise had been unknown to them for a long time. Now the question is what is more important - to celebrate the flowering of the shirui lily in an unfavourable climatic condition or the bonding of the people of the plains and the hills in a favourable time of the year. The latter should be held more important if the divide between the plain and hill is to be bridged.
 The Shirui will continue to bloom in the last week of May and let the enthusiasts or adventurists  come and admire its beauty  and for the common interest of the all the people and to make such an important festival a grand success ,with the participation of more and more people, the Shirui Festival should be shifted to a different time of the year with a favourable climatic condition.
About the author : Moirangthem John Singh , Economics  Graduate, DU