Heikru Hidongba, the traditional boat race festival of Manipur was celebrated at the Thangapat of Sagolband Bijoygovinda on.
The 240th Heikru Hidongba festival, popularly know as the traditional boat race festival was celebrated in Manipur on Thursday, The festival is observed on the 11th day of the Manipuri calendar month ‘Langban’ (September) month to bring prosperity to the community.
Manipur Governor Dr. Najma Heptulla along with legislators – RK Imo (Sagolband), Dr Sapam Ranjan (Konthoujam), O Lukhoi (Wangoi) and Md Abdul Nasir (Lilong), and others attended the festival.
Speaking on the occasion, the governor said that the festival has also a great meaning in the field of moral science and political philosophy. “The more we observe and study this public function, the more we will learn about the heart and soul of our ancestors who sacrificed their most precious lives without the least grumbling for peace and freedom of our people,” he maintained.
Heptulla gave away the Governor’s Trophy and certificates to the winners along with cash prize of INR 15,000 and INR 10,000 to the champion and Runner-up team respectively.
Thousands of people thronged the Bijoygobinda Moat at Sagolband in Imphal West district to witness a boat race organised as part of the traditional ‘Heikru Hidongba’ festival.
Religious rituals were performed to predict the fortune of the state, besides paying obeisance to God for bountiful blessings.
Heikru Hidongba is a very important joyous festival and has been observed at the Thangapat (moat) of Bijoy Govindajee, Sagolband, Imphal. This festival marks the racing of two boats with pomp and spirit, that’s why it is also called as ” Traditional Boat Race”
This festival is celebrated as a prayer to God for the welfare of the people and the country. In the past, King and nobles performed this festival for the welfare and well-being of the people and the community. One day prior to the festival day, the Maiba (priest) cleans and purifies the boat with Mantras and throws Konyai on the boats. Prayer is offered to Pakhangba (god of Meiteis) for the welfare of the king. Gold and silver coins are offered with a towel and garland on the deck of the boats.
On the day of the festival two boats join together known as Hi-Khabak-Lakpa and Shri Bijoy Govinda. Rashewori are to be installed and offer Puja. Also a garland of Heigru, made of 108 Heigrus with an alternate bud of Hup and also a garland of Cheng Machang (fine whole rice) made of 108 pieces is offered. The offered garlands are worn by the Tengmai Leppa of the two boats. The Maiba or the Pandit decides whether good or bad year from the result of the boat race.
The winner wears the garland of Heigru or that of Chengmachang. The king also offers gold and silver coins to Pakhangba for the prosperity of the land. Temporary camps are put up on the north and south of the Thangapat that runs from the east to the west. The public is crowded on both sides of the Thangapat and separate seating arrangements are made for the king and queen.
Pompous and graceful rowing of the two boats is the main attraction of this festival which is the biggest gathering of all around people of Imphal Valley. It is a wonderful and beautiful thing to witness the most grandeur festivals being held once in a year.