There are lurking questions in the minds of people as to how Two (2) beauty pageants will be organised under a roof of Shirui Lily Festival— this is indeed way beyond human sanity, says The Indigenous Foundation.
Issued by Phapha Gachui
At the very outset, I am pleased to announce that the Miss Spring Organising Committee under the aegis of The Indigenous Foundation (TIF) is all set and prepared to organize the Third (3rd) Edition of Miss Spring 2022 during the Shirui Lily Festival 2022. Miss Spring Organising Committee, The Indigenous Foundation, is the official organiser of the Second Edition of Miss Spring during the Shirui Lily Festival 2019.
The First Edition of the beauty pageant Miss Spring in the year 2018 during the Shirui Lily Festival was hosted by the Shirui Yorla, Imphal— a group formed by the Ningols of Shirui village. It may be recalled here that the state level Shirui Lily Festival is being organised in honour of the State Flower of Manipur, Shirui Lily, a rare and endemic flower known locally as “Kashong Timrawon.” The fame Shirui Lily is intrinsically tied to the legend of the Kashong Philava, the deity of Shirui Kashong (Shirui Hills/Peak). It is believed she is also the guardian of Shirui Lily and the peak where it grows.
According to legend, the lilies blossom under the arm of her kindness and generosity. In the year 2018, the Shirui Yorla, Imphal came up with the idea to organise a beauty pageant in honour of Shirui Lily. The title of the beauty pageant was first conceptualised and proposed as Shirui Lily Miss. On putting up the proposal for the title of pageant to Shirui village, their decision over the matter was said to have put it on hold— for reason best known to them only. However, it is reported that the locals have reservation on the proposed title based on the legend and belief surrounding the deity of Shirui Kashong. In view of this, the group decided to make a change in their title and came up with the pageant title as Miss Spring. Thus, the concept was developed and the first edition was organised in the year 2018 during the Shirui Lily Festival.
We would like to make a statement here that the Shirui Yorla, Imphal is the one and the only entity that owns the organising rights of the beauty pageant Miss Spring. The concept was originally developed and organised autonomously by the group. There is no further question. In the year 2019, The Indigenous Foundation (TIF) was accorded the rights to organise the beauty pageant Miss Spring by the Shirui Yorla, Imphal after entering a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and issuing a Letter of Authorisation. The MoU was signed on the 15th of August 2019 and empowered the TIF with the organising rights for a period of three years. A functional body in the name of Miss Spring Organising Committee was constituted under the TIF to execute and supervise the event. In due course, we also resolved to put up the proposal regarding the use of “Miss Shirui Lily” as the title of the beauty pageant in place of Miss Spring. Accordingly, we petitioned the Shirui village on the subject cited— a gesture that could be read as our respect and goodwill intention.
In a public meeting the villagers reportedly deliberated on the proposal, but decided to put the agenda on hold indefinitely. Eventually, the Second Edition of the event during the Shirui Lily Festival 2019 was organised under the stage title Miss Spring. As the last two years 2020 and 2021 were affected by the pandemic, the Shirui Lily Festival was also not organised and so is the beauty pageant Miss Spring.
As the pandemic situation subsided this year and with the announcement made by the State Government to organise the State Level Shirui Lily Festival, the Miss Spring Organising Committee under the aegis of the Indigenous Foundation gets ready and set to host the Third Edition of Miss Spring. In this wake, the members of the Miss Spring Organising Committee had an appointment with the Honourable Chief Minister of Manipur for fund allocation and official slot allotment in a manner as was done in the previous years.
On the advice of the Chief Minister, Manipur regarding the fund allocation, the members of Miss Spring Organising Committee met Honourable Minister Shri. Khashim Vashum, Honourable MLA K. Leishiyo and Honourable MLA Ram Muivah, all being the local representatives. We have prepared to launch the publicity materials and set the audition dates, which were scheduled at Imphal, Ukhrul and Bangalore on the 17th, 18th and 21st of May respectively. But, the concerned department instructed us to put on hold the publicity process before an official order. As a law abiding citizens, we waited for the order and we are still waiting. This year’s edition would probably be our last event if we could not extend our MoU, which expires on the 15th of August 2022. The organising rights of the beauty pageant will then return to Shirui Yorla, Imphal.
Meanwhile, a certain organisation came up to organise the same event Miss Spring 2022— out of ignorance or advertently despite knowing the fact that it is managed by an independent agency. The group also initiated their event preparation and file process in respect of Miss Spring 2022. This created confusion and misunderstanding among the people in the state of Manipur.
In order to clear this situation, we extend our invitation for consultation to the group (in question) in good faith. However, we regret to inform that there was no positive response from their end. After some days, the group came up again with a beauty pageant titled Miss Shirui Lily. They even went ahead to call a press conference and make their announcement. They also launched their publicity campaign by using official logo of Shirui Lily Festival and Directorate of Tourism, Government of Manipur, and conducted rounds of auditions, without obtaining prior approval from the State authorities. This created further confusion and misunderstanding among the people in the state of Manipur.
There are lurking questions in the minds of people as to how Two (2) beauty pageants will be organised under a roof of Shirui Lily Festival— this is indeed way beyond human sanity. In the present situation, there are also questions like— what will become of the contribution of certain organisation towards the beauty pageant during the Shirui Lily Festival in the past years? What will become of the successful women during the two pageants organised in the year 2018 and 2019? Just because one has a connection with the people in power, one cannot simply discredit the works done by the others. There should be an ethic and respect for one another in any human dealings. If there has to be a transition, we should follow proper procedure and system for it.
On the 16th of May 2022, the Directorate of Tourism, Government of Manipur, issued a letter (Vide 1/416/2022-DTSM) of Expression of Interest (EoI) and Rate Quotation for a maximum of Rs. 10 lakhs (which will be inclusive of all taxes) for Organization of Miss Spring 2022-23 during the 4th Shirui Lily Festival 2022 to interested firms with experience of having organised a similar event. Two agencies namely, The Indigenous Foundation and Seven Sisters Foundation participated in the tender process, despite the fact that the latter has already announced to hold the event in the name of 1st Miss Shirui Lily.
The tender was opened on the 18th of May 2022. We bid the rate quotation at a maximum of Rs. 8.25 lakhs, whereas the Seven Sisters Foundation bid at a maximum of Rs. 2.5 lakhs, which is nothing but a predatory pricing/abnormally low bids, as per the guidelines of Procurement Policy Division, Deptt of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance, Government of India. The concerned department is yet to award any official order to any firm/organisation till date. And for your kind information, the other party (Seven Sisters Foundation) does not have any experience of organising a beauty pageant so far.
As you are all aware that the Shirui Lily Festival is just round the corner, and there is no concrete official decision on the matters of the beauty pageant— a high end event that requires lots of professional inputs and services. We need to exhibit respect to professionalism at every level of the state festival; if not, the whole people of the state will be at stake of mockery. Lastly but not the least, we extend our good wishes to the people of the State during the 4th Edition of Shirui Lily Festival.
(Phapha Gachui is Miss Manipur 2016 and director, Miss Spring Organising Committee, The Indigenous Foundation)