Observed on an annual basis at the moat of Sagolband Bijoy Govinda Leikai, Imphal, this boat race is a nice blend of fun and cultural beliefs. With the onset of this festival, the whole region is engulfed in a state of joy. Inclusive of religious and traditional elements, this festive occasion becomes an interesting opportunity for people to explore.
This festival or religious ceremony is performed to bring peace and prosperity for the whole community. The ceremonial ritual was started in 984 A.D. during the rule of Maharaja Irengba. And over time, the kingdom saw the throning of different kings, however, what remained constant was this religious ceremony of Heikru Hidongba.
1. Preparations and Participants of Heikru Hidongba. With the commencement of Heikru Hidongba, twin boats are sanctified in the presence of the local deity. This is done so with the help of chanting mantras and spiritual rhythms. After this, a proper aarti (puja ritual) is also conducted for the overall well-being and success of the race.
The main participants of the race are known by specific names in the local language.
2. Ceremonies Before the Boat Race. Respecting the customary traditional rituals, before the preceding day of the race, the king along with Lord Vishnu is offered a ritual invitation to be present at the religious ceremony. Thus, the next day, during the race, the King is also present to watch the ceremony. However, if for some reason he couldn’t be present, Lord Vishnu’s idol takes his place.
During the evening, the participants practice for the race. And on the morning of the festival, the leaders of the boats put flakes of silver and gold into earthen pots. After this, a garland made of 108 amlas and wild grass is offered to Bijoy Govinda.
Later on, the same is placed at the hull of the boat. And before the final call to start the race is given, both the teams pray for the final time for their respective wins and get ready for the race.
3. The Boat Race. The competition starts with great ferocity. The participants, who are majorly females, display an amazing spectacle of strength and physical vigour, putting all their efforts in great synchronization to win. One can see rows of people on either side of the shore cheering for their respective teams. The team who wins is honoured with prizes.
Imphal is truly a wonderful travel destination where you can hope to spend some really good memories with your loved ones. Imphal is located at an approximate distance of 2,388, 3,215, 1,489 and 3,459 km from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru respectively. Follow the below-given means of transportation to reach here.
By Air. The nearest airport is the Imphal airport aka Bir Tikendrajit International Airport (IMF) situated just 8-10 km away. After Guwahati Airport, this airport is considered to be the second-largest airport in entire north-eastern India. It is fairly well-connected with other Indian cities. Once you deboard at the airport, you will need to cover the remaining distance via public transportation.
By Train. Dimapur Railway Station would be your best choice to reach here if you are planning on visiting here by train. It is located on the Lumding-Dibrugarh section and has overall good connectivity with other nearby cities. Once you deboard at the station, you will need to cover the remaining distance by some means of public transportation.
By Road. You can also consider travelling to Imphal by well-maintained and motorable road networks. In fact, travelling by roads can be one of the most cherishing experiences of your life. To travel here, and depending upon your physical location, you can consider booking private or government buses which are readily available online. Otherwise, you can also book a cab or take your own vehicle.
You can plan your trip and create your own route to the city with Adotrip’s technically driven circuit planner. Click here