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Blooming at the top of Shirui Hills, Shirui Lily brings in the people of Manipur together with its enchanting beauty and its annual observation, Shirui Lily Festival.
Shirui Lily, or Lilium mackliniae, is the State Flower of Manipur found only in the upper ranges of Shirui Hills in Ukhrul district of Manipur at an elevation of 5,568 – 8,500 ft. above sea level. It was first discovered by English botanist Kingdon F Ward in 1946 and named it ‘Lilium mackliniae’ after the maiden name of his wife Jean Macklin and later introduced to the world by bagging the prestigious merit prize in the 1948 Royal Horticultural Society Flower in London.
Shirui Lily Festival is an annual five-day State festival celebrated in Ukhrul district to spread awareness about the endangered state flower ‘Shirui Lily’ as well as to promote Ukhrul district as a potential tourist destination in Manipur. The festival was celebrated by the locals in their own level till 2016, when the State Government in 2017 declared that Shirui Lily festival would be celebrated in state level.
Organized by the Shirui Lily Festival Organizing Committee under the Department of Tourism, Manipur, the festival came into being as a celebration for developing sustainable and responsible tourism in the State and promoting the exotic state flower by bringing in all the different communities together under one roof.
Shirui Festival helps the people of all various communities and tribes residing in Manipur to come together and celebrate its rich biodiversity and cultural heritage. It gives us all a chance to learn more about the Tangkhul Naga tribe dwelling in Ukhrul through its cultural roots, values and practices, and also to explore Ukhrul, the highest hill-station in Manipur.
(Image: Ukhrul Town)
Shirui Festival is celebrated during the peak blooming season of Shirui Lily. In the first edition of the festival held in 2017, it was celebrated for 5 continuous days from 16 till 20 May showcasingnumerous traditional and cultural activities. Live music performances, folk songs, traditional dance, indigenous games and competitions, art and craft exhibitions, ethnic food stalls and handicraft vendors make the festival home to every visitor.
ShiRock, the musical extravaganza of live music performances and competition, is also one of the biggest highlights of the festival that attracts a large number of people from different corners of the State, and even from the neighboring states. Ukhrul District Headquarter, Bakshi Ground, TNL Ground inside Ukhrul is the main event venues of the festival. Renowned music groups of North-East India such as Soulmate, Girish and the Chronicles, Tetseo Sisters performed as headlining acts at ShiRock 2017.
(Image: Bakshi Ground, Ukhrul)
In 2018, the second edition of the festival was celebrated in the month of April from 24th till 28th on a much greater scale after the grand success of the first edition. It opened at Vangayan Ground with The Shirui Lily Song by Shirui Team on the first day. The ‘HaoLaa’ performance from the movie Tingtell, the Shirui Grand Prix Competition, Downhill Race Trophy, Cross Country Enduro Race and Miss Spring Contest were notable events on the following days. Flower Show, Shumang Leela, Kabui Dance, Mao Dance, Tangkhul Dance, Light Manipuri Music, Trekking Competition, etc. kept the good vibes of the festival till the final day. Multiple music bands from all across the North-East regions of India participated at the ShiRock Band Competition. Two international bands from USA, Queensryche and Steel Heart played at the festival. Green Shirui Lily, the tree plantation campaign organized by The Giving Tree and Hill Wild, planted 10,000 saplings in various parts of Ukhrul during the five-day festival.
After the prosperous run of two editions consecutively, this year the people of Manipur eagerly awaits on Shirui Festival 2019 which is scheduled to be held on 16 till 19 October 2019. On top of showcasing numerous cultural and traditional activities at the festival, two legendary international rock bands, Extreme from Boston, Massachusetts, United States and Nazareth from Dunfermline, Scotland are headlining at ShiRock. This year will mark a bigger milestone for the festival.