Sangai festival colloquially known as “Sangai” of the mesmerising and beautiful Indian state of Manipur (previously known as Kangleipak) in North-Eastern India is a sought after mega event by travel enthusiasts in India and abroad. Once celebrated as the “State Tourism Festival” has now scaled up to the national and international level.
Several countries such as Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, Maldives, Malaysia, Mauritius, and Zimbabwe participate in the festival.
The festival also hosts artistic performances from states of Tripura, Orissa and international locales of Thailand and Myanmar.
When does the Sangai take place?
November 21 to 30, is the officially slated period for the grand festival.
Why is it called Sangai?
Named after the state animal of Manipur, Sangai Deer, a shy brow-antlered deer, the Sangai festival witnesses many events during those ten days in November each year. Many of us don’t know that the only natural habitat of this deer is the Keibul Lamjao, the world’s sole floating National Park in the Loktak lake in Manipur
What Happens During the Sangai Festival?
Sangai festival showcases and promotes the rich, diverse and vibrant arts & culture of the state of Manipur including games, handloom & handicrafts, fine arts, music, traditional folk dances, dresses, and much more. It also witnesses and hosts mind-boggling adventure and indigenous sports, and delicious indigenous cuisines.
# 1 Traditional Dance Forms
Reflecting Manipur’s cultural heritage and the love for art, Sangai witnesses incredibly famous Manipur’s classical dance form, ‘Ras Leela.’ Not only this, the festival displays other incredible folk dance performances such as the drum dance called Pung Cholom, the Bamboo dance, Maibi dance, Lai Haraoba dance, Khamba Thoibi dance, Kabui Naga dance and many more. The festival also organises Fashion shows and Rock shows.
# 2 Handlooms and Handicrafts
Highlighting host of Manipur’s beautiful, indigenous handlooms and handicrafts products, themed huts of various tribes demonstrate living-style of these tribes. One can’t miss the artistry and creativity of the tribal products otherwise usually not readily available.
# 3 Traditional Sports
A significant highlight of the Sangai includes traditional sports such as Manipur’s famous martial art called the Thang-Ta (a deadly combination of Spear & Sword skills). The other remarkable events include the ethnic sports such as Yubi-Lakpi (a Rugby like game, played with greased coconut), Mukna Kangjei (a combination of hockey and wrestling), and Polo (Sagol Kangjei) believed to be originated in Manipur.
Besides, adventure sports activities such as trekking, water skiing, sailboat, windsurfing, white water rafting, parasailing, and much more forms part of the festival. One can witness the 60-km long cross country mountain bike competition, trekking & climbing to the highest peak of the state, Mount Esii (Tenipu), and the event of Caving and trekking to Ukhrul district.
Where are the Venues?
The events are lined up all over Manipur. In the day time, outdoor activities, Post 4.30 PM, cultural events in Imphal at BOAT. Different stalls serving Manipuri delicacies are organised.
# 1 Main Venues
- Hapta Kangjeibung (Palace Compound) and Bhagyachandra Open Air Theatre (BOAT), a mini-stadium.
- Hapta Kangjeibung features the indigenous huts of the tribes of Manipur
#2 Indigenous Sports and Water Sports
- Khuman Lampak Sports Complex at Imphal (Indigenous sports)
- Power paragliding at Old Airfield
- Takmu Water Sports Complex at Loktak, Moirang (Water sports)
# 3 Other Cultural Activities
- Trade & Permanent Exhibition Centre at Lamboi, Khongnangkhong
- Don’t miss Nata Sankirtana, the cultural performances by people of hilly districts.
- Don’t miss to check out the Manipuri handicrafts and artificial jewellery from Thailand.
Easily accessible by air, the Manipur airport is 6 km away from Imphal. There are daily flights from Delhi to Imphal, as well as from Guwahati and Kolkata. Air India, Air-Asia and Indigo are the frequent service providers.
With no railway lines in the state of Manipur, the nearest railhead is Dimapur in Nagaland which is 215 km from Imphal. Therefore, ideal connectivity is by air from Guwahati, Kolkata, and New Delhi.
Briefly, the Sangai Festival of Manipur is one of the most significant tourism events showcasing the rich cultural heritage in North-Eastern India. A matching event of this grandeur is the famous Hornbill Festival of Nagaland.