Manipur a gem among states: Nirmala

IMPHAL, 21st Nov: Union defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman opened this year’s edition of Manipur Sangai Festival at Hapta Kangjeibung, Wednesday in the presence of Governor Dr Najma Heptulla, chief minister N Biren Singh and other dignitaries.
Addressing gathering held at Bhagyachandra Open Air Theatre (BOAT), the Union minister said she understood significance of Sangai Festival as last year’s edition was officially opened by President of India.
While describing Manipur as a gem among states of the country, Nirmala Sitharaman asserted that Manipur is a state having festivals throughout the year and Sangai Festival is a platform to expose state’s rich culture, tradition and handloom and handicraft products to the globe.
While asserting that Manipur has a lot of specialties in almost every field and all the facilities which can be developed as world class tourism destination, Nirmala said Manipur has full of nature’s gift as there is no second lake like Loktak in the world and Shirui Lily is found only in the state. Being located along international boundary, Manipur has rich fauna and flora. Manipur is a land that can stun everybody with everything that it has on offer. The state is endowed with distinct classical dance, scrumptious cuisine and traditional aura that fumes like a lighted incense stick in sacred shrines. The dances of Manipur were unbelievably soul comforting while music was no less. The traditional music of the state shadowed the existence of early civilization and it relays the unique culture of the people of the state.
While rest of the world called for women empowerment just now, women of Manipur are already empowered and they are being honoured at the highest level, she and cited Nupi Lal as an example. Manipur has the only market in the world exclusively for women and this market tells the power of women and the courage of Manipuri women who fought against the British. “We should be proud of it,” she said and also mentioned about Mary Kom’s achievement.
Saying that she was told about Manipur government developing a heritage park having traditional houses of all the 33 recognised tribes of the state, the Union defence minister encouraged the project saying that it will add another feather to the beauty of the state. She also assured all possible assistance from the Centre in successful implementation of the project.
In her speech, Governor Najma Heptulla highlighted that Sangai Festival is well known among global people and this festival would help in promoting rich culture and traditions of the people of Manipur. With its undulating green valley and hill ranges, Manipur is undoubtedly a beautiful state with a huge potential for developing into a tourism hub, she said adding that more than 500 medicinal plants and 600 varieties of orchids are found in Manipur. She also said that Manipur also gifted the game of Polo to the world.
Surprised over Union defence minister’s excellent knowledge about Manipur, the Governor urged Nirmala Sitharaman to visit the state again with her family and enjoy the unique hospitality of the people of the state. She also appealed Nirmala Sitharaman to act as spokesperson of Manipur when the state faces any problem.
Chief minister N Biren, who was chief host at the event, said Manipur is a state having rich culture and tradition and every tribe has their own unique culture and tradition. It is bounded duty of the state government to promote the rich culture and tradition of every tribes, he said adding that Sangai Festival is a platform for exhibiting rich culture and tradition of Manipur since the year 2010.
The CM announced that donation received from public for this year’s Sangai Festival has crossed the Rs 60 lakh mark as of Wednesday. Stating that said main objective of holding the festival is to convert Manipur as a tourism hub, he urged the visitors to enjoy the events of the festival and take home the memorable moments and spread the same to their friends.
Cabinet ministers, MLAs and top police and civil officials and Central security forces attended the opening ceremony.
Before opening festival, the Union defence minister inspected heritage site at the main venue where traditional houses of some major tribes of the state were displayed.
Accompanied by chief minister and his council of ministers, Sitharaman also inspected some exhibition stalls at the main venue.
Earlier, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman arrived in a special flight and landed at Imphal airport at 3.30pm. She was accorded a warm welcome by a ministerial team led by chief minister N Biren at the airport. She headed directly to Sangai Festival venue at Hapta Kangjeibung and cut the ribbon at the entrance gate of the main venue.
Nirmala Sitharaman left Imphal for New Delhi in the same special aircraft at 6.30pm.
On the other-hand, forest and environment minister Th Shyamkumar inaugurated Manipur Sangai Festival at YIC Ground, Keibul Lamjao in Bishnupur district. PDA chairman T Robindro presided over the function while government chief whip P Sharatchandra, MPCB chairman L Radhakishore, Kumbi MLA S Bira and additional chief secretary (forest & environment) Suhel Akhtar were the guests of honour.
Addressing the gathering, Shyamkumar said that though the state government and other agencies are trying to protect and save Sangai, the state animal, the mission will not be possible without the support of the people living in and around Keibul Lamjao National Park.
Stressing on the need to conserve and protect the environment as well as wildlife, he appealed to the people to stop using unconventional methods while fishing in Loktak Lake.
Stating that the recent hunting of satellite tagged Amur Falcon ‘Manipur’ at Khebuching was an unfortunate incident, the minister appealed to all sections of the society to come forward in conserving, protecting and spreading awareness regarding the migratory birds. He also lauded the locals of Tamenglong and Noney districts for surrendering their air guns as part of the conservation process of Amur Falcon aftermath the hunting incident. He also advised the departments involved in organising Sangai Festival to stop working at the last minute and spread mass awareness regarding the different functions/events to make the festival a grand success and for maximum participation of the public.
Principal chief conservator of forests and head of forest force (PCCF & HoFF) Kereilhouvi Angami acknowledged the consistent and persistent cooperation, efforts and sacrifices made by the locals in the protection and conservation of Sangai.
K Angami said that the celebration of the opening ceremony at Keibul Lamjao is a significant one and added that it reassures synergy in effort for conservation of Sangai and also the socio-economic development of the people in and around Keibul Lamjao National Park.
As part of the festival, 60 local stalls including food stalls and 10 stalls of the different state departments were opened for the public. Local cuisines, crafts made by the locals including toys and other various items were displayed for the visitors. A book ‘Orchids of Manipur’ and a poetry book ‘O Sangai Sanatombi’ were released as part of the function.
DC Bishnupur Pawan Yadav, forest department officials, DLOs of various departments, police officers, NGO leaders and representatives of clubs and villagers living near Keibul Lamjao also attended the opening ceremony.

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