Wangala Festival, or the “festival of 100 drums”, is the occasion when the deity Sanljong or the Sun God is offered sacrifices. The day is marked for two days usually but can go up to a week!
Wangal festival is basically a harvest festival which is organized by the ‘Garo’ tribe. This year, the festival will be celebrated on November 10!
Wangala Festival History & Significance
This winter harvesting festival is celebrated by the Garo tribe of Meghalaya and Assam. People pay tribute to ‘Misi Sanljong’ or ‘Pattigipa Ra’rongipa’ or the Sun God!
The festival is also known by names such as ‘Wanna’ and ‘Wanna Rongchuwa’ which hold the literal meaning of ‘hundred drums’. The festival is also celebrated in Bangladesh!
It is believed that the dance form was actually performed by the water creatures first. Humans were also invited for the same but they were not aware of the dance form then. It is said that the crabs taught it to them. Thus, their dance moves are derived from crab movements.
The first Wangala dance performance was held on December 6 and December 7, 1976, at Asanang, a place 18 km from Tura, India, and has been celebrated every year since then!
How is Wangala Festival Celebrated?
“Ragula” is a ceremony that is performed on the first day and is performed inside the house of the chief. The morning of the first day is also marked with the “Sasat Sowa” ceremony, where the chief of the 10 groups offers rice beer, and food to the deity!
The second day’s ceremony is termed as “Kakkat”. During this, people dress up in colorful outfits with headgear of feathers and dance to the tune of the drums.
This is considered to be the final act or the act of the 100 drums. In this, the chief comes in front first and is followed by the drums which are then followed by the dancers. The beating of the drums is so much in sync that the whole area reverberates with its tune.
This popular dance form has a particular pattern where two parallel lines are formed, one of the women, and the other of men. With the beating drum, the lines move in rhythm.
Musical instruments like gong, flutes, and drums are used during this festival and the buffalo-horn flute is the highlight of the whole event. The dance form is performed by people of all ages, young and old. The day is celebrated to keep the cultural identity of the tribal community of Garos safe in Meghalaya. This dance form is referred to as “Dama Gogota”.
During this whole event, the rice beer, which is known as ‘chu’ is offered to the sun god, and the drums are made of wood derived from the Gambara tree. Apart from this, people also organize stalls to sell handicrafts and local items.
How To Reach Tura?
The easiest way to reach Tura is by taking a night bus from Shillong, which is 320 km from Tura, and Guwahati, which is 220 km away. The cities also have sumo services. From Guwahati, the route is direct and you don’t have to visit Shillong first! But from Shillong, the buses first go to Guwahati and then to Tura! And then from Tura, you can take a cab to Assanang which is 18 km away from there.
Make sure you visit these beautiful landmarks when you visit Tura:
- Siju Caves
- Nokrek National Park
- Tura Peak
- Pelga Falls
Apart from this, Tura is also famous for Hoolock Gibbons. So get ready to go on a festive ride this season!