The Wangala Festival is one of the most colourful festivals in Meghalaya. Also known as the 100 Drums Wangala Festival, this is a harvest festival celebrated by the Garo tribe of the Meghalaya usually during the month of November. The festival is a great affair for the people of the Garo hills and is celebrated at Tura.
Meghalaya is an enchanting state that never fails to awe its visitors. From the living root bridges, waterfalls, crystal clear pools and sacred groves, the place is a heaven for nature lovers. The state is also culturally rich and that can be seen from the unique and wonderful festivals that are celebrated in the state.
What is the Wangala Festival
The 100 drums Wangala festival is the most important harvest festival of the Garo tribes in Meghalaya, Assam and greater Mymensingh in Bangladesh . With agriculture being the most important livelihood of the people, the Wangala is a thanksgiving festival. The Garos pay their obeisance and gratitude to Misi Saljong or ‘Pattigipa Ra’rongipa’ (The Great Giver) for blessing them with a rich harvest season. This harvest festival is celebrated for 3 days and music and dance forms a main part of the festival.
The festival starts with the village chief, known as ‘Nokma’ performing the Rugala ritual. At Rugala, an offering of the best and the first prepared rice beer, cooked rice and vegetables to the Almighty. On the next day the Nokma performs the Sasat Sowa ceremony. The Nokma burns incense at the central pillar of his house marking the beginning of the Wangala Festival.
The main highlight of the festival is however on the final day when the main dance takes place. There is a group of 30 dancers and 10 drummers and there are 10 such groups each representing a Garo village. The 100 drummers play their drums while 300 dancers dance to the rhythm of the 100 drums. Just imagine the dancers in all their colourful attires dancing to the beat of drums! It is a spectacular affair.
Apart from the main dance, individual villages and groups perform their own traditional songs and dance. At the last day, the all Garos attending the festival join in the revelry and fun. The audience joins in with the dancers. Every year, Wangala Festival is a time for relaxation and fun for the Garos as well as living their traditions and culture.
The Wangala festival as it is celebrated today was first organized in December 1976 at Asananggre near Tura. With the advent of modern times, the traditional celebration of Wangala was fast waning. This festival is considered to be the cultural identity of the Garos. So in order to promote the festival and preserve their tradition, a group of Garo intellectuals decided to organize the 100 drums Wangala Festival every year. And they included the youths in organizing the festival.
During the festival, the Garos wear their traditional colourful costumes known as Dakmanda, Daksari, or Gando. The feathery headgears are called as do’me. Their long oval shaped drums are known as Dama.
So this November, make a plan to visit Meghalaya. Along with a trip to Shillong, Cherrapunji and Mawlynnong, also include Tura in your itinerary and witness the spectacle of Hundred Drums Wangala Festival. You can also stay for a few days at Tura and explore the Garo hills at length.
Places to visit at Tura:
Nokrek national Park
How to reach Tura
Tura is almost 320 km from Shillong and 220 km from Guwahati. There are bus services and Sumo services from both Shillong and Guwahati. The buses usually leave in the evening and reach Tura the next morning. The Sumos leave in the early morning and reach by afternoon. You can reach Tura directly from Guwahati without having to visit Shillong. The buses from Shillong go to Tura via Guwahati itself. Since From Tura, Assanang is 18 km and you can get local cabs to visit Assanang.