By Our Staff Reporter
IMPHAL, Jan 4 : The State level Gaan-Ngai Festival kicked off at Iboyaima Shumang Leela Shanglen today with religious and cultural fervour.
Making of the ritual “holy fire” for self purification, “Yupaan Thaba” and congregational “Hoi” prayer marked the opening of the post-harvest celebration of the Zeliangrong tribe.
Chief guest of the event, Education Minister Th Basanta Kumar Singh declared the festival open.
This year, the State Level Gaan-Ngai Festival is being held under the theme “Loss of Religion is Loss of Culture, Loss of Culture is Loss of Identity”.
Speaking on the occasion, Th Basanta Kumar Singh said the Gaan-Ngai festival is a colourful and one of the biggest festivals of Manipur.
“The Kabui/Rongmei are people who are very much attached to their indigenous religion, culture and traditions. We are proud of this. There are not many communities in Manipur which still practice the indigenous religion. We should encourage and preserve this,” said Basanta Kumar.
Stating Manipur is like a mini India with diverse communities and culture, Basanta Kumar said, the different communities, under Chief Minister N Biren Singh’s leadership, have started to come closer.
“Manipur has about 34/35 different communities. For this, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister N Biren Singh, on many occasions, described Manipur as a mini India. Moreover, Chief Minister N Biren Singh, as a leader who deeply understands the issues of the State, has been working relentlessly to bring the different communities closer. Under his leadership, the hills and the valley have started coming closer,” Basanta Kumar said.
The Education Minister further said, in consonant with the effort to bridge gaps, the State Government has started a scheme wherein opportunities are given to people to learn 7 local languages/dialects including that of Kabui/Rongmei community.
The Government believes that promoting indigenous languages/dialects would help bring communities together and unite them, he said.
While the seat capacity for the scheme was only 250, more than 500 applications were received, he said.
Basanta Kumar added that the candidates who are enrolled to learn the languages are also given stipend of Rs 10,000 for two months. The language course has begun at Johnstone Higher Secondary School (from 2 pm to 4 pm).
Also, encouraging the organising committee of the festival to hold the Gaan-Ngai festival every year, Basanta Kumar said he would urge Chief Minister N Biren Singh to declare Gaan-Ngai festival a general holiday for the State.
Thangmeiband Assembly Constituency MLA Khumukcham Joykisan, who was also present, said Gaan-Ngai is a festival which goes back a long time. He also prayed for the festival to bring love, peace, prosperity to the people.
Wangkhei Assembly Constituency MLA Thangjam Arunkumar, social worker N Rajendro, Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak Phom (AMN) general secretary Chaoba Kamson attended the event as presidium members.