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41st 100 Drums Wangala Festival 2017

About the Festival

100 Drums Wangala Festival 2017

The Northeast of India has many ethnic groups and each is unique in character with its own distinct customs, language and dress. With a total of 7 states, Northeast India has many unique festivals and they showcase in its brilliancy. Agriculture being the main source of income, most of the festivals revolve around harvest which are celebrated with great pride and joy. Wangala, a post-harvest festival of thanksgiving is celebrated in Meghalaya after the completion of all agricultural activities.

Winter is the main harvest season in the Garo Hills of Western Meghalaya. A traditional three-day festival called the Hundred Drums Wangala is being held at Asananggre (about 15 km from Tura, the largest town in the Garo hills and the cultural capital of the A’chik people) to celebrate the occasion. It is dedicated to ‘Misi Sanljong’ or ‘Pattigipa Ra’rongipa’ that means God Sun. The people offer their gratitude in commemoration of the Sun God for blessing them with an affluent yield throughout the year.

Garos are extremely attached to their culture and dress up in their finest dokhmandas, their traditional weaved festive attire donned with feathered headgears called 'Dome'. The three days of cultural extravaganza consist of ‘Rugala’ and Sasat sowa rituals which are held on the first day and Dama Gogata takes place on the final or last day of the festival. The celebration of Rugala generally takes place in the house of the head of the village called as ‘Nogma’ or a shed of Bamboo is constructed near the house. One day prior to this grand carnival, the village chief Nogma performs rituals with fresh brewed beer called 'Chu', cooked rice and vegetables that are offered to the god. Weaving of ‘Dokhmanda’ also takes place.

The major attraction of the festival is the music. The ceremony culminates in merry-making and dancing to the rhythmic beating of 100 drums and playing of other melodious indigenous musical instruments. The 'orchestra' of men includes drums, gong and flutes, punctuated by the sonorous music of a primitive flute made of buffalo horn. Several sports such as climbing of oil-smeared bamboo poles are held and carrying of rocks is held. A fair is organized in which weaves are sold along with local products and wooden materials.

There is no fixed time as such for the festival although it is generally celebrated in the month of November to signify the onset of winters and. The Wangala is also an occasion for the government to spread awareness on health, crime and other issues by organizing plays and music performances. The Meghalaya Government takes great interest to increase the flow of tourist during the months of November and December and Wangala could be a great platform for the same.