SHIRUI, April 25 - In a bid to highlight the significance of Manipur�s State flower � the Shirui lily � and spread awareness about its conservation on the one hand and promote the district of Ukhrul as a tourist destination on the other, the second State-level Shirui Lily Festival got under way at this picturesque village, about 100 km north-east of Imphal, in Ukhrul district.
Chief Minister N Biren Singh, accompanied by four ministers L Jayentakumar (Health), V Hangkhalian (Agriculture), L Dikho (Public Health Engineering) and Th Radheshyam (Education), inaugurated the event. Three MLAs of Ukhrul area � Khasim Vashum, Alfred Kanngam S Arthur and Leishiyo Keishing � and Dr S Ranjan, chairman of the Tourism Corporation of Manipur Limited, also attended the inaugural function along with representatives of civil society organisations and others.
Discovered in 1946 by Frank Kingdom Ward, a botanist from United Kingdom, Lilium mackliniae sealy, which is locally known as Shirui lily, is a rare species of terrestrial lily naturally found in Manipur�s upper reaches on the Shirui Hill ranges known as the Shirui Kashong Peak which is located 2,835 metres above the sea level. The pink flower�s beauty lies in its bell-shaped petals.
With the formal inauguration of the Shirui Festival, the exhibition stalls of the festival have also opened at the Tangkhul Naga Long Ground in the hill town. Shirock 2018, a competition among 20 rock music bands of North East India, will be a major attraction.
Meanwhile, American rock band Steelheart enthralled the audience on their debut India gig on the first day of the Shirui Festival on Tuesday. On the last day of the festival on April 28, legendary rock band Queensryche will perform here.
The Chief Minister mentioned the government projects taken up for the welfare of people. He revealed that 21 out of 29 sanctioned projects are under implementation, while some of them have already been completed in the district.
Later, the Chief Minister also inaugurated the newly-constructed women�s market complex in Ukhrul town, 84 km from Imphal.