Imphal (Manipur) [India], Sept. 16 (ANI
): Thousands of people thronged the banks of the Bijoy Govinda Thangapat in Imphal to witness a boat race and offer prayers to Lord Vishnu and Bijoy Govinda.
The traditional boat race festival, Heikhru Hidongba, has a great traditional significance and is observed with a ritualistic approach in Manipur.
The festival is celebrated every year on the 11th day of Meitei lunar month, Langban, which corresponds to the month of September in Gregorian calendar.
Apart from performing religious rites and rituals and paying obeisance to the Gods for bountiful blessing, an exciting race between two boats is the main highlight of the festival.
Introduced in the 1779, the Heikru Hidongba has been a festival of great cultural and religious significance where prayers and rituals are performed for prosperity and sanctity.
"On the day of the race, a garland is being assembled from one hundred and eight Heikru ( Amla ). In between each Heikru, there is a tip of 'hup' interspersing the strand. Another garland is being made out of one hundred and eight rice grains, each grain picked by fingers from its husk," said Shree Shree Bijoy Govinda Sevayet Committee Organising Member R.K. Sanatomba Singh.
As a religious ritual, the race begins after installing the idol of Lord Vishnu. Later, Heikru or gooseberry is offered to the lord.
In a twin boat, arti is performed amidst chanting of Sankirtana and music. Such offering is not performed at any other place than at the moat of Bijoy Govinda.
As a traditional belief, it is forbidden to eat gooseberry before the festival.
"The two garlands are being offered to Shree Bijoy Govinda and then be placed on the deck of the two boats. Which garland will be placed on which boat? This is decided on the day of the race by pundits," he added.
Such festivals also create a platform for people to spread love and friendship. (ANI