By Ibankyntiew Mawrie
SHILLONG: It was a special moment for spectators at Polo Ground on Thursday when 12-year-old Joplynda Sangriang, armed with the traditional bow and arrows, got ready on her mark to take on the challenge from 14 boys competing in her category.
As she shot her arrows on the target, the young girl from Jririangsin village under Hima Nongstoin achieved the unique distinction of becoming the first female to take part in the traditional archery competition (Rongbiria iasiat khnam) organised by the Apphira Archery Committee on Thursday at Polo Ground.
Joplynda was guided by her father and accompanied by her 11-year-old brother and four other adults from the same block, all of whom were contestants in the archery competition.
The annual archery competition saw the participation of over 200 shooters including as many as 15 children under the age of 12 from all the Himas and 12 Doloi (Laiphew Syiem bad Khadar Doloi).
Talking to The Shillong Times before the event, Joplynda expressed her confidence and her and her eagerness to compete against her male counterparts.
She stated that though this was her first time yet the fear of being the lone female competitor did not dampen her spirit.
“I have been trained for about 3-4 months by my father, who is also a shooter, and this is the first time that I and my brother (Bokstar Sangriang) have entered in such a big competition involving so many archers from all the Himas,” she said.
She also mentioned that there were many talented children from their village who have the potential to compete in events like these but the disappointing fact was that all of them have to walk five hours before reaching a black-topped road.
“This is a great disadvantage to all those kids who possess great talent in this field but do not get any opportunity,” she said, adding that the non-availability of road in their village was a matter of greater concern during emergency situations.
Interestingly, the youngest competitor was 5-year-old Nacharing Ksing from Hima Sohra. His father was also a competitor on Thursday.
Despite several attempts, young Ksing failed to hit the target and ultimately fell short of arrows.
The traditional archery competition is organised every year on April 4 to uphold and elevate the dignity of the Indigenous community (Ri Hynniewtrep) and to mark the day when Tirot Sing Syiem of Hima Nongkhlaw went to battle against the British in 1829.