AALO, Jan 7: The popular Siang River Festival held every year on the banks of Siyom and Sipu rivers at Aalo, headquarters of West Siang district, this year might just not live up to its name minus the rivers. The last-minute hiccups on getting clearance from the landowners of the traditional festival site have forced the organizers to shift the site to the general ground in the heart of the township much to the grumble of festival enthusiasts.
With only three days to go, the organizers are hectically arranging the general ground for the festival putting the lids on the prolonging speculations over the final festival site.
Anchal Samity Member of Kabu, Nito Loya put the blame on the organizers for the eleventh hour change of site. His contention is that the District Sports Association (DSA), which organizes the festival every year, did not inform the villagers of Kabu, the land owners of the traditional festival site at the confluence of Siyom and Sipu rivers, of its intentions to organize the festival at the site.
“It was only in the last week of December that the organizers informed the villagers of the decision to organize the festival on the river banks. By then, it was too late for us to prepare the site for the purpose,” Loya alleged. He further alleged that the DSA kept the villagers hanging with its indecision for the last two months. Infuriated villagers of Kabu finally decided not to spare their land for the festival forcing the change of venue.
DSA secretary Kengam Ete, however, denied the allegation and said that the change of venue was necessitated due to insufficient space on the river banks for successful conduction of the festival. He claimed that the river site was quite congested with no space for sufficient number of stalls and parking place that cause a major headache for the organizers every year.
Ete further reasoned that the site used last year is now converted into a vegetable garden and the owners were reluctant to spare it for the festival this year.
Whatever the reasons, the Siang River Festival might lose its original charm devoid of the serene river banks, floating restaurants, the floating bridge and the popular traditional boat race. According to the organizers, the boat race has been omitted this year for logistic reasons. The DSA secretary is, however, optimistic that like all previous years, the festival this year too would be a huge success.
“Construction of stalls and galleries are in full swing at the general ground, and it will be ready before the due date,” he said. The general ground would host almost all the events like adventure sports, indigenous sports, display of traditional dresses and costumes, cultural extravaganza, food stalls etc from January 11 to 15 next. THE SENTINEL