TODAY -

Holi or Hooliganism?

Jyaneswar Laishram *

Yaoshang Day 5 : The scene at 'Route 39' and Singjamei Bazar on last day of Yaoshang :: 27th March 2016  h
The scene at 'Route 39' and Singjamei Bazar on last day of Yaoshang on 27th March 2016 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam



Yaosang or Holi - call it whichever suits you - madness about this festival remains the same, whether it is celebrated in Delhi or Manipur. I am a sucker for quite a number of cultural festivals. Name any, apart from Holi. I think it may sound a bit weird to say I, since my pakhang days or boyhood years or unmarried life, had never enjoyed Yaosang the way many got into now and then. The festival was more of a five-day house arrest for me. Even the thabal night-outs failed to soothe me down, because I had never been a participant in the customary dance, not even once, and none of my close friends did either. One may wonder what on earth was wrong with me and my friends.

Yaosang, in a good sense, is the only festival in Manipur in which people of all age groups from different walks of life can generously enjoy or involve. Of course, all age groups - right from kindergarten kids to retired grandparents enjoy the festival to the fullest in five consecutive days. Most of all, the madness of the festival is the way people celebrate it throwing aber (colours) or water and executing shen moonba (money collection from passersby). And the worst is in Delhi. Every year weeks before the festival gets approaching, I go berserk when darned kids or grown-ups from their balconies or terraces fling water balloons, followed by irritating laughter if the flying objects hit me.

A friend of mine in Bishnupur, Khumanthem Nishikanta, blasted his anguish about Yaosang narrating an irritating incident he encountered at Ningthoukhong on one of the five days of the festival. In his story, full members of a family enjoyed the festival in full swing in the town - parents throwing aber at him while he was busy controlling their kids extorting money from him. You cannot escape from such annoyance that people do to you in the name of Yaosang because they think throwing colours, which could be hazardously indelible, is the decisive way to celebrate the festival or an ultimate act of festive amusement.

Most of the American and European countries celebrate Christmas and New Year for about a week. People of all age groups in the continents enjoy the holidays in full festive mood as though they are in an ultimate moment of enjoyment after hard day's work. That's radically relevant in America and Europe; but not in Manipur, where people get more unprecedented holidays through bandhs and strikes than normal working days in a year. At least main public utilities, banks and media must function as usual during Yaosang. In this, the problem is not that office-goers will not be happy engaging in work while others celebrating the festival. It's about the roads and streets that will not let them reach their offices.

The roads during the five-day of Yaosang belong to those who think the festival gives them license to mess. Drink and driving is very much part of the festival. Both in Delhi and Manipur, statistics of road rages or road accidents escalate during Holi. In this, the madness is just for a day, or a few hours, in Delhi whereas whole hooliganism of drunken bikers continues for five days in Manipur, even carries it forward to thabal nights. No matter how politely or heroically protest that I am not playing Holi, inebriated roadrunners will refuse to take me seriously, because five days of Yaosang totally infused them.

Perhaps it was in the late eighties, various sporting clubs in every nook and corner of Manipur introduced Yaosang Sports as part of the festival, attempting to restrain young boys from playing with aber. It has been effective to an extent, but still the Holi hooliganism finds its room, in a controlled or a smaller scale. Once there was a time, when I was a young boy, over-exited inebriated youth from many parts rode down the Tiddim Road, letting their aber smeared hands roam free to grope girls in Bishnupur during the five-day festival, and worst particularly on the last day. Yaosang Sports have curbed this maniac; but these so-called sports are missing the 'sporting spirit' these days - another matter to look upon.

Saying all these about why I don't like Holi or Yaosang, I am simply wondering how many of you will take my side. I think many of you will not! But one thing I am very much sure is that my old circle of friends from Bishnupur, which consists of Oinam Doren, Dr Khumanthem Bona, Rajesh Khumanthem, Robert Sanasam, to name a few, is still with me and my determination to keep away from all hullaballoo of Holi.


* Jyaneswar Laishram wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at ozzyjane(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was posted on April 01, 2016.


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