Wangala Festival 2022 at Meghalaya, India

“A successful harvest, a community rejoices, the best of food and drink, vibrant culture and colors on display – the hills erupt with a revelry during Wangala, the biggest festival of the Garos.” – Meghalaya Tourism

In the north-eastern Indian state of Meghalaya, the Wangala Festival, also known as the 100 Drum Festival, is celebrated with great fervor and excitement. It is the most significant event of the Garo tribe and has been observed since 1976. Tribal members sacrifice animals at the Wangala to appease their Sun God god, Saljong. While the celebration typically lasts two days, it occasionally lasts up to a week. The festival celebration will start this year on November 10.

History of Wangala Festival

The first Hundred Drums Wangala Festival was held on December 6 and 7, 1976, in Asanang, 18 kilometers from Tura, India, and close to the Rongram C&RD Block Office. Every year since then, it has been observed. The festival has expanded to include dance groups from nations other than the Garo Hills, like Bangladesh and Karbi Anglong, and offers a sizable prize fund to the group with the greatest performance. The 100 Drums Festival is a state-sponsored occasion that annually draws a sizable number of visitors from all over the world.

Interesting Facts

1. The festival, which honors the Sun God, concludes the protracted harvest season. The event also marks the conclusion of a protracted time of fieldwork for the Garo tribe prior to the onset of the winter.

2. As previously indicated, the Wangala is also referred to as the Festival of Hundred Drums and is observed with a variety of dances set to the rhythms of traditional melodies performed on drums and an ancient flute made of buffalo horns.

3. Both young and old participate in the festivities, and ladies perform the traditional dance Dama Dagota to the tune of various folk melodies to appease God Saljong while men play the drums.

4. A ritual called Ragula, which is held at the home of the village head, marks the festival’s opening day. On the second day of the festival, known as Kakkat, people dress up in vibrant costumes with feathered headdresses and dance to the beats of the long oval-shaped drums.

5. While Tula town in Meghalaya is the center of the Wangala celebration, the West Garo Hills is where the holiday is celebrated in its most authentic form.

6. The event is a chance for the Garo Tribe in Meghalaya to promote and preserve their cultural identity, and they display their culture in their celebrations.

Traditional Rituals

Wangala Celebration, also known as a 100 drums festival, is when the tribal people make sacrifices to appease Saljong, the Sun God, who serves as their primary god. It is often observed for two days, however, it can occasionally last up to a week. The first-day ceremony, referred to as “Ragula,” takes place within the chief’s home. The second day is referred to as “Kakkat.” People of all ages dance to the beat of music produced by long, oval-shaped drums while wearing colorful costumes and feathered headdresses. This is the time to unwind, and for days the astonishing beat of drums can be heard in the hills and valleys.

A queue of two parallel lines, one for men and one for ladies, each wearing festive finery, is the fundamental motif of the popular dance styles that are performed throughout the festival. Both young and old participate in the celebrations with gusto. The men are beating the drums as the line advances in time with them. The male “orchestra” includes flutes, gongs, drums, and other percussion instruments. A buffalo horn flute plays booming sounds occasionally. The performers, whether young or elderly, have a noticeable sense of speed, and the dynamic dance leaves an impression on the viewer.

The Wangala Festival essentially serves as a means of preserving and promoting the cultural identity of the Garos in Meghalaya. This is one method of displaying the local culture and customs.

Attires for Wangala Festival

Because the harvest is over and the people can celebrate, Wangala Festival is a time of celebration. Apart from admiring the stunning dances and attire, attendees can also partake in local cuisine and traditional libations like the well-known Garo rice wine, bitchi. The best traditional clothing is worn by both men and women during the Wangala festival, showing vibrant colors and designs.

The beaded chroko ganna, the ganna dakmanda (wrap), the chinani (shawl), the ganna kore kinga (traditional top), and the kotip are some of the women’s eye-catching attire (a headscarf-like accessory). The men wear a gantap (wrap), a genji gisim (shirt), or a pandra (a crisscrossed cloth worn across the torso), together with the recognizable headwear known as kadesil. The majority of the jewels worn by both men and women are made of coral, shells, beads, and metal.

How to reach the festival venue

Located 18 kilometers from Tura, Assanang hosts the 100 Drums Wangala Festival. Both the headquarters of the West Garo Hills and the cultural and political hub of the Garo tribes are located at Tura.

By Air

Approximately 35 kilometers away in Shillong, Umroi Airport is the closest airport, however, it only has sporadic flights to Kolkata. The closest major airport is located in Guwahati, which is 205 kilometers distant. The big cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Aizawl, Agartala, Imphal, etc. are all easily accessible from there. Additionally, Shillong and Guwahati have Pawan Hans helicopter service.

By Rail

There are no railroad connections in Tura. About 200 kilometers distant from Guwahati is the closest railway station. The major railheads in India are connected to the Guwahati railway station.

By Road

 National Highway NH-40 connects Tura to the cities of Shillong and Guwahati. There are buses that travel overnight and throughout the day from Guwahati to Tura.

Author

Venus Jasuja

A passionate blogger and content writer who loves to explore new ventures in life and pen them down through her own words and imaginative power.

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