About Shirui Lily Festival

Shirui Lily Festival is one of the State Level Festival of Manipur which is celebrated in the Ukhrul District of Manipur. To know more about the festival, we first need to know what Shirui Lily is, Why it is famous and why a festival is being celebrated in its name.

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Shirui Lily

Shirui Lily is the State Flower of Manipur. Known to the locals as Timrawon, this rare flower plant is found only in the upper reaches of the Shirui Peak, locally called Shirui Kashong in the Ukhrul district of Manipur, India, at an elevation of 1,730–2,590 metres (5,680–8,500 ft) above sea level. It is located near the boundary of Myanmar to the east, Shirui village in the west, Choithar village in the south and Sihai village in the north.

Myths and Legends

Legend has it that the Lily is the daughter of goddess Philava who resides and protects the hills of Shirui. Commonly called as Kashong Timrawon, the flower is also believed to be a kind and protective spirit that rests on Shirui Peak that symbolizes prosperity and happy life.

There is also a story that has been told for over many years by the old folks living there for centuries that the flower supposedly sprung to life when two young lovers decided to jump from the cliff to their untimely death. The lily grows in the spot where that incident happened.

Discovery

English botanist, explorer, plant collector and author, Kingdon F Ward first discovered the flower in 1946 and introduced it to the world by bagging the prestigious merit prize in the 1948 Royal Horticultural Society Flower in London.

Frank Kingdon-Ward came to Manipur with his wife (the daughter of a Bombay high court judge) for botanical research, in 1946. They set up base at Ukhrul in a building which they called “Cobweb cottage alias Bug bungalow”. Frank made the exciting “discovery” of Siroi lily, and named it after his wife Jean Macklin; it was discovered in 1946. The lily won the merit prize of the 1948 Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) at a flower show in London. The flower is compared to a beautiful and modest girl.

Its botanical name-Lilium Mackliniae Sealy- was named after the maiden name of his wife Jean Macklin and a postal stamp was issued by the Indian Postal Department to commemorate this flower

Flowering Season

They are seasonal flowering plants and at their best in May and June when it blooms. The peak season of its bloom is May 15 to June 5. The height of the plant is 1–3 feet (0.30–0.91 m) and has one to seven flowers per plant. The lily has pale bluish-pink petals but has seven colours when observed through a microscope.

Uniqueness

This rare lily has a pale mauve color and beautiful pale bluish-pink petals. Its beauty lies in its bell shape petals in bowing position like a modest girl

One of the characteristics that is unique to this rare flower is that is comprises of seven colors when seen under a microscope.

The Shirui Lily is also used for medicinal purposes as it has anti-bacterial and anti-anthelmintic properties which is used in treating skin and stomach problems.

Its unique characteristic is that one can’t plant the flower in any part of the world besides the Siroi hill. During the British raj in Manipur, the British repeatedly attempted to propagate the flower to other places only to be faced with utter failure. After a prolonged effort, they gave up the attempt

About Shirui Village

Shirui is a village located north of Ukhrul in Ukhrul district, Manipur state, India. The village is 15 kilometers from Ukhrul. National Highway 150 Imphal-Kohima via Jessami passes through the village. The village is divided into two parts Shirui ato and Shirui aze, however, both the parts are under one chief. Shirui is famous for the rich and flora found on Shirui Kashong or Shirui peak and especially for blooming of the rare Lilium mackliniae during the start of Monsoon.[1] The village is flanked by Ukhrul in the west, Langdang in the south, Mapum in the east, Sihai in the North east and Lunghar in the north. Locally inhabitants speak Shirui dialect which belongs to the Tibeto-Burman language family.

About State Level Shirui Lily Festival

Shirui Lily Festival first started by the villagers of Shirui along with some like-minded individuals inorder to preserve the Shirui Lily and spread awareness about the degrading environment.

The Festival was later accorded State Level by Chief Minister N Biren Singh in 2017. The first State Level Shirui Lily Festival was celebrated from May 16-20, 2017 at Ukhrul district.The second State Level Shirui Lily Festival was celebrated from April 24-28 2018.

The festival includes ShiRock