The annual Wangala festival this year will be held at Chibragre with a few rituals instead of a gamut of festivities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, informed members of the Hundred Drums Wangala Festival Committee (HDWFC).
After resistance from the residents of Asanang, the actual venue of the festival for the past 44 years, HDWFC decided to shift it to Chibragre, which is just a few kilometres away.
The committee held a meeting at Wangala building in Asanang on October 2 to discuss the matter and decided to hold only two rituals, ‘Rugala’ and ‘Sa’sat So’a’, over safety concerns.
“This is in view of the close proximity to Rongram and Asanang PHC, which is close to the venue and where some positive cases of COVID-19 were detected recently. Keeping in view the sentiments of Garo people and not to break the chain of celebration that has been going on since 1976, only limited troupes are being invited to participate in the festival with strict COVID-19 protocols and minimum presence of people,” said HDWFC convener FK Marak.
“It was also decided that Do’chi Go’a and Kosi Songa, the two rituals for foundation laying ceremony, will be organised at its proposed site tentatively on October 7,” he added.
Do’chi Go’a is performed by Garos to see the good or bad omen before starting any foundation work while Kosi Song’a is the erection of stones to earmark the site for community reserve forest and such places are considered to be sacred places.
“These rituals form an essential part of the Wangala festival and are merely symbolic and in no way intend to dilute the faith and belief of any individual. It is expected that such rituals will help scholars and students who are researching on Garo customs, culture and usages,” said Marak.
The proposed site of Wangala is adjacent to Asanang and close to Babadam, a famous picnic spot.
“The site is spread over 22 acre land. It will be designed in such a way that it is self-sustainable without having to depend on government funds in the future. It will have permanent huts for all 12 sub-tribes of Garos. The heritage village, among other things, will have a training centre on arts, culture and various traditional trades like wood carving, basket making etc, food courts, amphitheatre and projection halls, besides guest houses for tourists designed in traditional styles but to be equipped with all modern facilities,” he added.