ITANAGAR: The north-eastern part of our country is filled with various cultures and traditions with several tribal communities celebrating their own festivals. Undoubtedly, that is the distinctness of the region. The Singphos of Arunachal Pradesh celebrated their cultural festival — Shapawng Yawng Manau Poi on Sunday.
Mentionably, the community in Myanmar celebrates this festival as 'Manau Poi'.
The festival is generally observed between February 12 and 15. However, February 14 is the primary day of the celebration.
The Singpho terms 'Shapawng Yawng' refer to the forefathers of the community while 'Manau' 'Manau' implies dance and 'Poi' refers to the festival. Hence, 'Shapawng Yawng Manau Poi' denotes the dance festival in honour of Shapawng Yawng.
SIGNIFICANCE: The prime motive behind the festival is to portray the rich customs, cultures and traditions as well as wildlife biodiversity of Arunachal Pradesh. Simultaneously, it is an attempt to promote, protect and preserve the rich heritage of the Singpho community.
Additionally, the 'Shapawng Yawng Manau Poi' festival nurtures the social relationship and communication that will strenghten unity among the communiities of the State. The Singpho tribe is one of the small distinct communities in Arunachal Pradesh. This festival brings them into the limelight and gives them an opportunity to portray their rich cultural heritage to the country.
BELIEF: The Singphos believe that they are the descendants of their forefather, Shapawng Yawng who is believed to be the first human born on this planet. Hence, Manau Poi is performed to honor and show respect to their forefather, Shapawng Yawng. This annual festival of the Singpho community commences with the hoisting of the festival flag by one of the chiefs of the Singhpho tribe, Duwa Bisa Latnong. A total of 32 gunshots are being fired to mark the commencement of the festival. Following this, cultural events are held where the community members perform their traditional dance 'Thunghkring Manau' around the sacred wooden pillars.
COSTUMES: The male members of the Singphos adorn 'Khaithung' — a black-and-green colored lungi and a shirt named 'Samtong' with accessories like the 'Khak' (a bag), and 'Khuphok' (turban). The female members of the community don the 'Choi' (tops) and 'Singket' (skirt-like wrapper), with accessories like the 'Manmaokring' (a hat) and 'Phugak' (necklace).
ORIAH GREETINGS: Arunachal Pradesh Governor Brig (retd) Dr B.D. Mishra has extended his greetings to the people in general and the Wancho brethren in particular on the occasion of Oriah festival. (Agencies)