Imphal: Manipuris will celebrate ‘Yaosang’, the five-day festival of colours which reflects the state’s heritage of Vaishnavism, from Wednesday.
The festival is celebrated in the spring season with colours and water, much like Holi, but with additional Manipuri features.
For the last 15 days or so Imphal city has been crowded with pre-Yaosang shoppers buying clothes, colours, toy water pumps for the children and many other items.
On the first day of Yaosang, a thatched hut is built and burned after sunset. The children go from door to door, asking for money, called ‘Nakatheng’, to celebrate the festival.
On the second and third day, girls also collect Nakatheng. They go to their relatives or stand alongside roads to collect money for organising ‘Thabal Chongba’ (meaning ‘dancing in the moonlight’), the folk dance that features both girls and boys.
On the fourth and fifth days, people play with colours and water.
Young housewives also organise a communal lunch for themselves in their respective localities and at night there is open air drama entertainment.
The significance of the festival can be gauged by the fact that Wednesday and Thursday will be general holidays in Manipur.
There have also been efforts in the last 35 years to moderate the excessive revelries associated with the five-day festival.
Some local youth clubs have been organising sports festivals in their respective areas to give people an option to celebrate Yaosang in a more sober manner.
Newspaper publication, however, is a casualty of the prolonged festivities, mainly because journalists as well as others in the publication business abstain from work. Most newspaper offices would be closed for more than just two days of general holidays.
The armed insurgents in Manipur have also cracked down on festivities spilling beyond five days.
Mohon Lal Patni, a trader, told IANS that the sales of readymade clothes, colour and other items have gone down since Yaosang has been sobered down with the hosting of sports festivals.