'Kut' means Festival in most of the languages and dialects of the various Kut celebrating tribes of Northeast India. The 'Kut Festival' which is celebrated on 1st November in Manipur is the harvesting festival of the traditional Jhum crops of these tribes -the harvesting of jhum crops takes place earlier than the harvesting of the wetland terraced cultivation crops in the Plains. This festival, which had been in existence in various forms much before the advent of Christianity amongst the various tribes of North eastern India and Burma, was revived in its contemporary form in 1979 in Sadar Hills of Manipur. It continued to be held annually in one-day events by incorporating a variety of cultural dances,  ontemporary music and Beauty contests. Since then it gained popularity in the ensuing years and came to be celebrated throughout the State. It was given State recognition and was declared a State Holiday in 1982. A State Level Kut came to be celebrated in one of the metropolitan towns in the State every year. It is also celebrated elsewhere wherever there is a concentration of 'Kut tribes'* as in Mizoram, Shillong, Assam, Nagaland, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune and even in faraway foreign lands in the UK and USA.

In Manipur the traditional shawl colours, dances and culture of this group of people celebrating 'Kut' is encapsulated in this one-day State Level event consisting of a daytime session and an evening session. The daytime session showcases the variety of folk dances and traditional music of all the 'Kut' tribes. The evening session is more contemporary in content; the music and performances are contemporary and then there is the "Miss Kut" beauty pageant, a popular event of the festival. The popularity of this festival is evident in the  enthusiasm with which all communities of Manipur look forward to and participate in as it is an all inclusive festival exuding a warm welcome to one and all. The 'piece de resistance' of the festival, the "Miss Kut" Beauty Pageant, has become a popular parallel to "Miss Manipur" Beauty Contest as contestants from all communities compete for the coveted crown. Indeed, many a times the crowns and prizes that come with it have been won by contestants from outside the 'Kut' tribes.

Through the years, as the State passed through political, communal and ethnic turmoil, the significance of 'Kut' itself and all that it stands for has metamorphosed. Today, it is not only an event but a movement for peace, harmony and progress as it has come to epitomise the ethos and spirit required for the disparate groups of people in the State to learn to live together in harmony and in peace. It is a legacy of the past which has been reinvented in the present day and has evolved to be a wonderful fit, a panacea and a break away from the violent circumstances that we live in today. This festival has come to occupy an important place in the hearts of all the people of Manipur.

KUT 2014