Imphal, Oct. 5: Showcasing oneness and brotherhood among the people of different ethnic communities, Mera Houchongba was celebrated with pomp and gaiety at Kangla Uttra today.
This year’s unique feature of the festival was organising the celebration at State level in a grand way by a joint committee known as the State Level Mera Houchongba Committee formed under the supervision of Chief Minister N. Biren Singh.
The committee comprised representatives from Kangla Fort Board, Sana Konung (Royal Palace), Sanamahi Temple Board and State Government.
Performing age-old rituals, exchange of gifts and presentation of colourful cultural items of different communities were the main highlights of the celebration.
Chief Minister N. Biren Singh, Art and Culture Minister L. Jayantakumar Singh and titular king of Manipur Meidingu Leishemba Sanajaoba graced the joyous occasion as the chief guest, president and guest of honour respectively.
Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries, MLAs, top civil and police officers, village chiefs and large number of people from both hill and valley were also present at the occasion.
Addressing the gathering, the Chief Minister said, “We need to forgive and forget the past mistakes sincerely to retain the strong fraternal bond between hill and valley people.”
Stating that there were misunderstandings in the past, Shri N. Biren said that people need to sideline all these differences and march forward to achieve progress.
Mentioning the importance of Mera Houchongba festival towards strengthening hill-valley unity, the Chief Minister hailed titular king Meidingu Leishemba Sanajaoba for his efforts of keeping up the tradition of celebrating the festival every year.
Acknowledging the significance of Mera Houchongba, the new Government had decided to celebrate the festival in a grand way under its aegis from this year, he added.
Stating that there has been considerable improvement in hill-valley ties ever since the new Government was formed in the State, the Chief Minister said that he was moved by the kind gesture and fine hospitality shown to him and his Minister during reception ceremonies held at Ukhrul, Kangpokpi, Senapati and Churachandpur.
Maintaining that no development is meaningful if the needy people of hill and interior areas are uplifted and empowered, N. Biren Singh said that he is planning to visit Tamenglong district by road soon to look into the inadequacies of the district and review various development works.
He assured that people would witness considerable developmental changes both in hill and valley districts within 2 or 3 years. N. Biren said that his Government had decided to revamp all the major roads across the State on mission mode soon after rainy season.
The Chief Minister further said that a WhatsApp Group comprising PWD engineers, SOs, contractors and himself as its members had been formed to expedite developmental works.
In order to complete the projects within stipulated time, he had even instructed the Works Minister to increase the working hour of officials from 8 hours to 14 hours with overtime allowance if necessary, the Chief Minister informed.
Regarding Imphal Evenings, the Chief Minister clarified that the Government is simply trying to provide recreational space to the public as the people of other States think that there is no life in Manipur after nightfall.
Admitting that there were some traffic congestion problems on the first day, the Chief Minister assured that proper planning has been made to avoid such inconvenience in future.
Speaking at the occasion, L. Jayantakumar said that the State level Mera Houchongba celebration had been incepted from this year under the supervision of Chief Minister N. Biren Singh.
He said that the idea behind organising the festival in such a grand way is putting effort to mark the beginning of an event which would be remembered forever by the future generation from this year’s Mera Houchongba celebration.
Earlier in the morning, a large number of people from different hill and valley districts gathered at the Royal Palace and took out a colourful procession up to Kangla as part of the celebration.
Later, the age old rituals like Mera Men Tongba and Yenkhong Tamba were performed there to strengthen the fraternal bond among people of different ethnic communities.