As many as 150 indigenous farm seeds and traditional handloom items of the Tangkhul community in Manipur were displayed at the exhibition of indigenous seeds, culture and traditions held on the last day of the ‘Liuwtoh Phanit’ festival at a Tangkhul Naga village, Phalee in Ukhrul district of Manipur.
‘Liuwtoh Phanit’, a seed sowing festival, is one of the biggest traditional agricultural festivals of the Tangkhul Naga in Manipur. It is celebrated by the Tangkhul Naga villages in Ukhrul district every year with great fanfare.
Phalee village has been celebrating the festival for five long days, heralding the beginning of seed sowing for the year. The festival is celebrated in an effort to preserve the culture and indigenous seeds of crops grown in the village. Rice, maize, potato, and cabbage among others are the main crops cultivated by the villagers in Phalee.
Phalee, also called Phadang, is located west of Ukhrul in Ukhrul district, Manipur, and is rich in flora and fauna as it lies in the Indo-Burma Biodiversity Hot-Spot Region.
The five-day long vibrant festive event, which was attended by village headman and leaders of various villages located in the Lungchong Meiphai (LM) Block among others, was held at the village ground in Ukhrul district.
Apart from the exhibition of traditional items, the last day of the festival titled ‘Cultural Day’ also witnessed cultural folk song and folk dance competitions. Young girls and boys of the village showcased the beauty of their rich folk songs and dances.
As the ‘Cultural Day’ celebration came to a close, Chingtam Women' Development president N Kunjeshori pointed out the lack of market facilities for the farmers in the village to sell their produce and earn their living. She stressed the need to ensure that horticulture products from the off-grid agricultural areas do not get spoiled and go waste.
Expressing serious concern, she pointed out that the repeated wastage of such seasonal vegetables due to lack of market by farmers becomes a major factor for farmers to indulge in cultivation of illegal crops.
Considering the ground condition and the possible adverse consequences for the people and their environment, Kunjeshori drew the attention of the state government for providing market facilities to the farmers living in the off-grid areas, to make the most of their farm produce.
Lauding the villagers of Phalee for their efforts in preserving the age-old culture and indigenous seeds, she said, “One should never forget that it is culture and tradition which defines one's identity.”
Aspiring candidate of the upcoming MP election (outer) Alyson Abonmei, who attended as chief guest of the festival function at Phalee, expressed that the ‘Liuwtoh Phanit’ festival is indeed an encouragement to all farmers for cultivation of more indigenous crops and a step towards making a self-sufficient state.
He stressed on the need of giving emphasis on such villages for upliftment of indigenous culture and highlighted the necessity for establishing a culture museum considering the richness of the village.
It may be mentioned that the seed sowing ‘Liuwtoh Phanit’ festival is celebrated in every Tangkhul village at the beginning of the year with variations and modifications.
This major agricultural festival of the Tangkhul community is spread over more than five days in some villages in Ukhrul district. In the olden days, the festival was celebrated for 11 days, according to reports.