Heikru Hidongba, the traditional boat race festival of Manipur, was celebrated at the Thangapat (moat) of Shri Bijoy Govindajee, Sagolband, Imphal on Saturday amidst the cheerful crowd.
The festival is celebrated every year on the 11th day of Meetei lunar month, Langban, which corresponds to the month of September in the Gregorian calendar.
Celebrated as a prayer to God for the welfare of the people and the country, this festival had been observed since 984 and 1074 A.D and marks the racing of two boats with pomp and spirit.
In the past, the King and the nobles performed this festival for the welfare and well-being of the people and the community.
Prayers are offered to Pakhangba (God of Meiteis) for the welfare of the king. Gold and silver coins are offered with a towel and garland on the deck of the boats.
Apart from performing religious rites and rituals since early morning and paying obeisance to the god for a bountiful blessing, an exciting race between two boats with competitors in traditional attire is the main highlight of the festival.
Temporary camps are put up on the north and south of the Thangapat that runs from the east to the west. The public is crowded on both sides of the Thangapat and separate seating arrangements are made for the king and queen.
The pompous and graceful rowing of the two boats is the main attraction of this festival which is the biggest gathering of all around people of Imphal Valley.