100 Drums Wangala Festival is an annual cultural festival of the Garos, held every year at Asanang, 18 kms from Tura the headquarters of West Garo Hills district, Meghalaya.
Wangala is the most significant post-harvest festival of the Garos, who live in Meghalaya, India, Assam and Greater Mymensingh in Bangladesh. It is a thanksgiving ceremony to the God “Misi Saljong”, also known as “Pattigipa Ra’rongipa” (the Great Giver) for having blessed the human beings with rich harvest of the season. Offerings of rice beer are made to her and incense is burnt in her honour during the Rugala and the Sa’sat So’a ceremonies prior to the weeklong Wangala festival.
Although the Wangala has been traditionally practiced from times immemorial, however with the advent of Christianity and modern culture, this cultural identity of the Garos was seen to be fast disappearing. Therefore, in order to protect, preserve and promote the festival. The first Hundred Drums Wangala Festival was organised on December 6 and 7, 1976. Since then, the festival is being organized every year in the second week of November and has grown over the years under the patronage of Meghalaya Government and nurtured by the Hundred Drums Wangala Festival Organisation.
The festival extends from two days to a week, with the first day focusing on the ceremony of “Ragula”. On the second day the ceremony of “Kakkat” is performed. People of all age groups young and old dress in colorful attractive costumes with feathered head gears dance to the tune of music played on long oval-shaped drums.
A group of 30 dancers with 10 drums would form a dancing troupe or a contingent; and 10 such groups tallied to form 300 dancers. That’s how the festival got its name “Hundred Drums Wangala Festival”.
The main attraction of the festival is the music and orchestra being played by men in a rhythmic fashion. The ‘orchestra’ of men includes drums, gong and flutes, punctuated by the sonorous music of a primitive flute made of buffalo horn. There is a notable sense of tempo in the performers, young and old, and the energetic dance leaves a lasting impression upon the beholder. Other activities includes Indigenous games and sports (Wa’pong Sika, An’ding Oka, Jakpong Pe’a, Makkre Wa’gong Maldoa and Rong’ma Chilsusaa for the men folk while the women will compete in the Rong’ma Chilsusaa and Rong’ma Gosusaa events), Indigenous vocal and instrumental competitions, Wangala dance competition, Religious ceremonies, Industrial Exhibition, Painting and crafts Exhibition etc.