History & importance of the Festival
Shapawng Yawng Manau Poi is an annual festival of Singpho tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. Shapawng Yawng festival is also the most important dance festival of Singpho (Jinghpaw) community. Also known as Manau Poi, it is the national festival of the Kachins, a term for Singphos residing in Myanmar.
Shapawng Yawng is the forefather of the Singphos. The word Poi means Festival Manau means Dance, thus Shapawng Yawng Manau Poi stands for Dance Festival in honour of Shapawng Yawng.
The festival is usually celebrated between 12th to 15th February, though 14February is often a common day of celebration.
The festival is primarily organised to show the varied and rich culture, customs and exotic flora and fauna of vast Aruanchal Pradesh. At the same time it is also an effort to preserve, protect and promote the age old cultural heritage of this small tribal population. The festival is also an effort to deviate the substance addiction of the youth to valuable efforts.
Shapawng Yawng Manau Poi festival also fosters social relations and social communication which leads to unity among the people. Directly or indirectly the festival makes the Singpho community part of the mainstream population of India as northeast lacks in this area. In such lacking Singphos are themselves a small distinct group among the twenty and more tribal groups that inhabit Arunachal Pradesh.
About Singpho Tribe
Singphos believe themselves to be the descendents of Shapawng Yawng who was first born on this earth. He called himself as Singpho. Shapawng Yawng & rsquo;s son, Tingli Yawang wanted to get the blessings of father and the Mathum Matha, the creator of the world. So he organised the first Manau poi as praising of Gods (Bhikan Gundan Poi). Later, the festival came to be known as Shapawang Yawng Manau Poi in the memory of their ancestor Shapawng Tawng.
Traditionally, Manau dance originated from the birds while they were feasting. The dance was initiated by the human beings under the leadership of Ma Den Yau. In this festival, ethnic dance was performed to the rhythm of the drumbeats traditionally known as ‘Gongs’ and ‘Thongs’. The festival was solemnized for the first time in Miao, Arunachal Pradesh in 1985. Since then it has been ceremonised on annual basis by the Singphos of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh which is supported by Shapawng Yawng Manau Poi Festival Celebration Committee. The annual congregation strengthens and upholds their unique culture with the participation of the Jingphos residing in different parts of the world.