Residents of Garo Hills held a meeting recently in Asanang, West Garo Hills over the threat by the Chairperson of the Hundred Drums Wangala Festival’s organising committee to move this year’s festival to nearby Chibragre over disagreements on holding the event.
Chairperson LR Ch Momin has been in favour of a limited festival this year, involving only a few customary rituals, but other members of the same committee have sought for a complete cancellation owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. Asanang residents are also believed to be against holding the Wangala festival this year.
The meeting, held on Friday, condemned the social media posts of Momin, who not only threatened to move the festival to a new location but also allegedly mocked the Nokma of Asanang (Selbalgre), Rosalline Ch Marak and the people of the village. The attendees demanded that Momin resign for his comments.
Momin and his supporters on the committee are keen on holding at least some rituals to limit the number of people present given the Covid-19 situation. However, villagers are opposed to this as they feel that the large Wangala Dance is the essence of the festival.
One of those who attended Friday’s meeting was Emphul Marak, who said Momin had “shocked the people” by saying that Asanang residents did not even know who their Nokma is. Asanang has been host to the festival for the past 44 years “without any objections or controversies” and the Chairperson had insulted them, Marak added.
The meeting resolved to seek an apology from Momin, which, if not submitted within 10 days, would otherwise lead to the ban on meetings of the organising committee led by Momin.
The attendees also objected to the proposal to move the festival to nearby Chibagre, saying this would require an amendment to the organising committee’s constitution.
“We shall not allow the shifting of the festival from Asanang until the constitution is amended. We appeal to the committee to instead donate this year’s government fund to the CMRF (Chief Minister’s Relief Fund) for the sake of the people during this pandemic,” they added.
Noted people who were present during the meeting were former MDC Milton Sangma, former Hundred Drums Wangala organising committee President PK Sangma, along with the Nokmas of Jendragre, Ganolgre and Digranggre.
The people during their meeting have reiterated that they would not allow the hosting of the Wangala festival this year due to the situation in an effort to protect the people.