The concluding day of the Sangla Summer Festival dawned cloudy with possibility of rain.
And yet, as it was a Sunday, a big crowd turned up to enjoy the festivities. The day began with a performance by a Home Guard band – they played Hindi songs and some patriotic numbers. By the time the band had done their turn, the crowd had settled, with people picking out the best spots from where the performances could be clearly seen. A boxing championship (with events for men and women) was the prime attraction and all attention was on the boxing ring, with the younger lot surrounding the ring, watching every match with keen interest.
Apart from boxing and traditional dances, there was also a folk-art performance wherein the artistes used props and portrayed different characters and animals, with the entire story set to a soothing old song. Overall, the entire festival was an amazing experience and watching the different traditional performances took me back in time when there were no roads in the valley, when people only ate things which they grew or which was already available in the surroundings, when people had to walk miles before reaching major stations/ places from where they could buy goods or sell their produce. I couldn’t help thinking that even though they lived in such a remote high mountain, the people of Sangla valley had indigenous ways of entertaining themselves, that they lived together in relative harmony, and that the people of Kinnaur with their diverse religious beliefs, were one of the most open and welcoming peoples I had ever met – can’t wait to visit again!