Meghalaya: Wangala100 drums Festival

The 46th edition of the Wangala Festival commenced on November 10 this year.

What is Wangala Festival?

Wangala Festival is a popular festival of the Garo community in Meghalaya. It is also known as a 100 drums festival. It is a harvest festival that honors the Garo tribe’s main deity, Saljong – the Sun god of fertility. The celebrations of this festival mark the start of the winter season and the end of the period of toil, which brings profitable outputs.

Presently, this festival is seen as a means to preserve and promote the cultural identity of the Garo tribe in Meghalaya. It provides the opportunity for Garos to showcase their culture and traditions. During the 2022 celebrations, tourists from France, Gujarat, Bengaluru, Kerala, Assam, Sikkim, and other places witnessed this festival.

How is the festival celebrated?

The celebrations usually last for two days and sometimes continue for over a week. Rugala (pouring of rice beer) and Cha·chat So·a (incense burning) are the rituals performed during the first day of the festival. They are performed by a priest known as Kamal inside the house of the Nokma (chieftain).

The second day of the festival, known as Kakkat, is when people dress in their colorful attire and play traditional music on long oval-shaped drums. Traditional dance forms are also performed during this festival.

Dama Gogata – the dance with drums, flutes, and various brass instruments – is performed on the last day of the festival. Katta Doka (talking in a singing style), Ajea, Dani Doka (describing Wangala by singing), Chambil Mesaa (the Pomelo Dance) feature during the celebrations.

Who are the Garo?

The Garo are Tibeto-Burman ethnic tribe who mainly live in the Indian states of Meghalaya, Assam, Tripura, and Nagaland as well as in the nearby regions in Bangladesh. The religion of the tribe’s ancestors is known as Songsarek. Their language belongs to the Tibeto-Burman language family. It is not traditionally written down. The tribe’s customs, traditions and beliefs are passed down orally.

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