Ukhrul: Manipur state level Shirui Lily Festival 2022, the state’s second largest festival kicked off Wednesday at Shirui village ground in Ukhrul district.
The 4th edition of the state festival, after a gap of two years owing to Covid-19 pandemic was inaugurated by governor of Manipur, La Ganesan in the presence of chief minister, N Biren Singh who was present as the functional president. All MLAs of Ukhrul district and Chairman, Hill Area Committee (HAC) were Guest of Honour; Ministers, MLAs of Manipur and president Tangkhul Naga Long were as special guest.
Rev Dr. Ringphami K. Kashung said the invocation prayer and blessed the opening of the state festival.
In the keynote address, PK Jha IAS said, “This festival is a journey that began in 2017 to celebrate the gift of nature bestowed upon this land. Not only are we gathered to celebrate the gift of nature but to celebrate life. The theme of One flower, One festival is also an endeavor to bring together all people of the state a one unit with the true spirit of unity in diversity”.
PK Jha further added, “The festival is also an initiative to understand and preserve the state flower Shirui Lily. The festival is a way to celebrate our unique diversity in terms of our varied communities, abundant flora and fauna and unity in diversity. Ukhrul is one of our most beautiful district in the abode of the state flower. The district is endowed with immense potential to develop as an attractive tourist destination”.
The Department of Tourism, Government of Manipur in collaboration with the Ukhrul District Administration and Shirui Village Authority is organising the event which will continue till May 28, 2022.
The festival will be mainly held at Shirui Village Ground. As part of the festival, stalls of various traditional products have been opened. The other location will be at Bakshi ground at Dungrei which will host the Northeast renowned, 4th editon of ShiRock, an evening singing competition from various bands from across the country.
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Few unique displays during today opening ceremony are mithuns, rared mostly in the northern areas of Ukhrul, Haofa (Tangkhul Hui), an endangered Tangkhul dog breed and the famous Lungpi black pottery.
Other features during the festival includes Miss Shirui Lily beauty contest, 4th edition of MTB downhill,
Marathon, 7 A-side football, Essay writing, Music and many more. Special appearances by Miss Universe 3rd runners up, Adline Castenino as showstopper at the opening fashion show and The Monument, a British based rock band at Bakshi ground on May 28, closing night are some of the few highlights.
In his inaugural speech, the Governor said the state festival has similarities between his hometown in regard that, on this same day, there is a flower exhibition in Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu after a gap of two years. He said that the festival is annually celebrated in Manipur and features music, food, traditional games and other cultural activities which aims to increase awareness about this rare flower and develop sustainable and responsible tourism in Manipur. He further stated that this flower needed proper scientific study so that this famous flower can continue to thrive in its original habitat.
La Ganesan furthermore said, Shirui Lily festival, if marketed properly can become a tourist attraction. “The festival will not only create awareness about the need of protection of environment which will not only improve the well being of the local population, but can also bring the advance knowledge and expertise to improve the environment,” the Governor added.
He then informed that the ICAR has taken up tissue culture of this plant and hopes to perpetuate this plant not only in the original habitat but also in laboratory conditions.
Chief Minister of Manipur, N Biren Singh who was the functional president at the occasion later addressed the gathering that Rs 46 crores has been sanctioned under the Minority Affairs, PMJVK scheme, for the construction of Shirui Heritage Village and upgradation of Bakshi ground. He also informed that constructions of cable cars at Loktak and Shirui are in the pipeline. Referring to the upgradation of Pettigrew College to a University, one of the oldest colleges in the state, he said that one more bus has recently been given.
Shirui Lily, which blooms in late May to early June, has become a well known plant/lily in the world because of its rarity. The flower is found only on top of the Shirui hill of Ukhrul district in Manipur.
Featherheads Haokui band presented a special performance, Avakhon, meaning Mother Nature in the opening ceremony.
Members of the Tangkhul Music Forum (TMF) and Tangkhul Singers such as PC Makang, K. Remnu, Semmichon Kashung, Horyaola Kashung, Ashang Khapai and K. Olive kept the crowd entertained while awaiting the arrival of the dignitaries as the scheduled was delayed due to bad weather.
Wungchanngam Shangh, headman Shirui Ato village, gave the vote of thanks in the opening ceremony.