Week-long archery festival kicks off in Manang-Ngisyang

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By Yadu Prasad Bhatta,Manang, Apr. 12: A week-long traditional archery festival kicked off in Ward No. 6 of Manang-Ngisyang Rural Municipality in Manang district on Thursday.

Manang’s locals celebrate the festival with joy. According to the locals, the festival originated in the region during the Baise-Chaubise Rajya (22-24 small kingdoms). It was possibly during the 

late 13th Century. Especially, locals from Gurung and Ghale communities in the Upper Manang region celebrate the festival to showcase their art, strength and skills.

“The small kingdoms were continuously in war. The archery competition, which gradually developed into a festival, was then organised between the kingdoms to identify the strong one,” said Binod Gurung, a culturalist. 

On an annual basis, with the onset of spring, the festival is organised a week before the Nepali New Year. The people living in the Lower Manang region call the festival as ‘Dhachang’.

People from the regions in Manang gather at a designated place for the festival and compete by dividing into two teams. The festival organisers levy money from the two teams and conduct the competition. The winner of the competition is then awarded with cash and other prizes. 

Similarly, Lamas (Buddhist monks) gather on the final day of the festival and organise a spiritual dance.  After the dance, pictures of a demon-like man and woman are joined and the one who attacks the collage, which is expected to be the village’s enemy, is given the designation of ‘hero’ for the year. The festival’s conclusion is marked by performing Syabru, a traditional folk dance. 

Archers await recognition

Nepali archers have been participating in the Asian Games since the 16th edition. With four archers participating in the 19th Asian Games, Nepal has not yet won any medals in the sport.

Locals of Manang stressed that the archers in the district could perform better if they got a chance as well. It is because the locals of the district have been involved in archery since their childhood. 

Alongside the communities in Manang, the Thakali community has also been associated with archery for as long as they can remember. The issue regarding the inability of the authorities to recognise good archers and shooters and provide them with good platforms was also raised in the programme organised by the National Sports Council around a week ago to collect suggestions from the journalists on plans and policies in the sports sector.

Addressing the concern, Council’s member-secretary Tanka Lal Ghising had said that the government was supporting archery; however, archery too lacked enough resources like the other sports.

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