Shirui Lily Festival begins in Manipur's Ukhrul district

| Updated: May 19, 2017 00:55 IST

Ukhrul (Manipur) [India], May 18 (ANI): Commemorating the significance of Manipur's state flower -- the Shirui Lily -- and to promote peace and harmony between different communities of the state, the first state-level Shirui Lily festival began here. Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh inaugurated the event. Discovered in 1946 by Frank Kingdom Ward, a botanist from United Kingdom, Lilium Mackliniae Sealy, which is locally known as Shirui Lily or Kashongwon is found only in Manipur's Shirui Kashong Peak. Situated at the elevation of 1,730-2,590 metres above sea level, the rare species of terrestrial lily grown naturally is found only in the upper reaches of the Shirui hill ranges in the Shirui Village of Ukhrul District. Considered as the pride and flower of the state, Shirui Lily comprises of seven colours when seen under a microscope. However, the pinkish flower's beauty lies in its bell shape petals. Shanti Mungleng, a resident, said, "The village people are extremely happy because this festival was celebrated in a very humble way for couple of years back but today it turn into a state level festival. We are really happy, especially the old people are giving blessings to honorable Chief Minister N Biren Singh and almost everyone knows his name now." On the occasion, the Manipur Chief Minister announced Rs.5 crore for the development of tourism in Shirui village and Rs.15 crore would be sought from North East Council for the development of other infrastructure. He also announced Rs.5 crore for the development of the Khankhui Cave, which is already a popular tourist destination of the district. Singh said, "We have seen many people turn out for this festival like they did for the Saingai festival and this is what we want for this festival where people come from all across the state. And, I am sure, in years to come, more visitors from the country as well as from abroad will start visiting this place. And in order to meet all their demands, we need quality infrastructures like roads and guest houses. And for that, we will send a proposal for sanctioning of Rs 15 crore for the development. Organised by the state tourism department, the five-day long festival aims to promote peace and harmony amongst the communities of the state and also bring forth the importance and awareness of the endangered lily species. Hundreds of people from across the state including the Chief Minister, state cabinet ministers, officials and locals, braved the heavy rain and took part at the festival with great enthusiasm. Wungpam Shimray, a resident, said, "This festival will definitely help boost the tourists' inflows in the region. And today, we are showcasing various traditional items and cultural activities that will attract the tourists. And also, food stalls have been put up selling indigenous cuisines and local drinks." During the inaugural ceremony, Shirui Lily Grand Prix competition was also flagged-off by Chief Minister as part of the five-day long celebration. Moreover, as part of the festival, ShiRock 2017, an exclusive entertainment event was also organised featuring various Rock Bands and Solo Artistes' performances from all over the northeast India. Camping, outdoor adventures and acoustic nights are the major attractions of the event as well; along with varied food stalls and flower shows displayed at the festival. Manju, a visitor, said, "I am waiting to witness the outdoor adventures which are part of the festival and I am sure it's going be fun and enjoy." The amazing mega event witnesses Manipur's Ukhrul rich culture, awesome music, fun outdoor adventure and yummylicious cuisine of the Tangkhul Naga community. The Shirui Lily Festival will be celebrated every year from May 16, declared the chief minister. Hosting such festival will help protect the rare Shirui Lily as well as the authorities will take more proactive steps by putting in an effort to rekindle the greenery in the district. (ANI)