Northeast is a land of surprises, from the rare tourist attractions to the unique fests. Meghalaya has a lot to offer to a culture lover. Wangala Festival is one such festival that is unique to the place.
Wangala is the harvest festival of the Garo community. Wangala is celebrated in many separate places across the season. Those who want to experience the largest Wangala can head to the 100 Drums Festival – a more recent convergence of multiple festivals on one single stage held in the first week of November.
Wangala is a reminder to all of the rich indigenous culture of the Garos – many of the symbols and rituals reflect the strong beliefs that existed before Christianity entered these verdant hills. The main deity of Wangala is the sun-god and the main soundtrack is provided by the Nagra drum. Towards the end of the festival (which continues for days), the largest batch of dancers converge on the main celebration area with multiple drums and perform the ceremonial and traditional dances.
Here are some interesting facts one should know about the Wangala Festival of North East India:
1. The festival is held in honor of Saljong, the Sun-god of fertility; the Wangala festival is a harvest festival celebrated by the Garos of Meghalaya. It marks the end of a period of toil in the fields and also signifies the onset of winter.
2. Wangala festival is also known as ‘The Festival of Hundred Drums’. During this festival, the girls in the village perform different kinds of dances. Drums and bamboo flutes are played to the tunes of the folk songs of the region. ‘Dama Dagota’, traditional dance is performed to the sound of various folk songs. Sacrifices are offered to please the Sun- god, Saljong
3. The celebration of this festival lasts sometimes for a week and is generally celebrated for a span of two days. The first day of the ceremony is known as ‘Ragula’ and is performed in the house of the chief. While the second day is called ‘Kakkat’. People come out in colourful costumes with feathered headgears to dance to the beats of long oval-shaped drums.
4. Tura in Meghalaya is the epicenter of these festivities. However, one should head to the villages of Sadolpara in the West Garo Hills to witness the festival in its most traditional form.
How to get there:
The Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport at Guwahati is the nearest airport (200 km). Direct flights from Delhi and Kolkata are available on daily basis. Taxi services are prompt and quickly available. You can hire an Ola cab to reach the nearest bus-stand if you’re planning to take the local bus to the hill station.
Guwahati is also well connected by trains. Daily trains to Guwahati are available from Delhi, Kolkata, and Howrah. The journey will take at least 18 hours. The Rajdhani Express takes about 36 hours for a one-way trip. Bangalore-Guwahati Express, Chennai-Guwahati Express and Guwahati-Trivandrum Express are some trains you can board from south India. From Guwahati, you can take a local bus or hire a cab to Asanang.
Buses ply from Kolkata, Siliguri, Imphal, and Itanagar to Guwahati. Meghalaya Transport Corporation has buses that connect Guwahati to Tura and Asanang.