The famous Wangala Festival will be celebrated in the village of Chibragre, a few kilometers away from Asanang in West Garo Hills on October 7.
However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the festival will be curtailed to only a few rituals instead of the whole gamut of festivities.
It may be mentioned that the festival has been continually celebrated over the past 44 years at the village.
Members of the Hundred Drums Wangala Festival Committee (HDWFC) have decided to hold the festival in a curtailed manner.
The decision according to the HDWFC comes in the wake of the pandemic scare across the world as well the opposition of many sections of the people of Asanang, who had earlier raised objections to it being held in Asanang or elsewhere over security concerns.
The HDWFC held a meeting at the Wangala building at Asanang on October 2 to discuss the matter and decided to hold only two rituals ‘Rugala’ and ‘Sa’sat So’a’ over health safety concerns.
“This is in view of the close proximity to Rongram and Asanang PHCs which is close to the venue and where some positive cases of Covid -19 were detected recently. Keeping in view the sentiments of Garo people and not to break the chain of celebration that has been going on since 1976 uninterrupted only limited troupes are being invited to participate in the festival, where strict Covid-19 protocols with bare minimum of presence of people shall be there,” said FK Marak, convener of HDWFC.
“It was also decided to organise rituals of Do’chi Goa and Kosi Songa at the proposed site, the two rituals for foundation laying ceremony, tentatively on October 7.
Do’chi Go’a is performed by Garos to see the good or bad omen before starting any foundation work, while Kosi Song’a is an erection of stones to earmark the site for community reserve forest. Such places are considered to be sacred places.
“These rituals form an essential part of the Wangala festival, are merely symbolic and in no way intends to dilute the faith and belief system of any person or individual. It is expected that such rituals will help the scholars/ students who are doing research work on various Garo customs, culture and usages,” said Marak.
The HDWFC stated that the new proposed site of Wangala was adjacent to Asanang and close to the famous picnic spot, Babadam.
“The site to be spread over about 22 acre land will be designed in such a way that it is self-sustainable without having to depend on Government funds in the future. It will have permanent huts for all 12 sub tribes of Garos,” Marak said.
He also informed that the heritage village, among other things, will have a training center on arts, culture and various traditional trades like wood carving, basket making etc, food courts, amphitheatre and projection halls, besides guest houses for tourists designed in traditional styles and equipped with all modern facilities.