Shirui lily, the state flower of Manipur, is believed to be a kind and protective spirit that grows on Shirui Peak – one of the highest peaks in Ukhrul – and symbolises prosperity and a happy life. The Shirui Lily Festival is an ode to the spirit of the flower and everything that it stands for.

It was first discovered in 1946 by an English botanist and explorer Frank F Kingdom and since then has been garnering attention from all across the world. The gorgeous pinkish white flower is now considered endangered because of unchecked deforestation and climate change over the years.

The festival is happening from October 16-19 this year, although the peak blooming season of the flower is usually from April to June. However, the festival, which was supposed to be organised in the month of May, got delayed due to the enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct during the Lok Sabha elections.

This is the event’s third year, and is a must-visit for anyone who’s interested in the demonstrations of the age-old customs, traditions and culture of the inhabitants of Ukhrul. All that is accompanied by live music, cultural shows, beauty pageants, exhibits, folk songs, traditional dances and indigenous games and sports competitions like the Shirui Lily Grand Prix.

Located about 83 kilometres from Imphal, Ukhrul is the highest hill station of Manipur. It is the home of Tangkhul Nagas (the oldest and most colourful warrior tribe), Kukis and Angamis. During the festival, you also get a glimpse into the rich Tangkhul culture, thanks to the showcasing of they traditional cuisines and attires, flower shows, and painting competition as well as entertainment programmes. The festival not only aims to spread awareness and conserve the rare state flower but also promote the hill station of Ukhrul as a potential tourist destination.