TODAY -

The good, the bad & the miserable days

P Dhanakumar *

Yaoshang Day 1: Sports activities and scenes of people enjoying at Kangla Gate :: 05 March 2015
Yaoshang Day 1: Sports activities and scenes of people enjoying at Kangla Gate on 05 March 2015 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam



I grew up in the 1950s & 60s. As is true for everyone, I too faced the travesty of life, the good; the bad and the miserable days. But a season which compensated for all the bad and miserable days, was always the season of Yaoshang, the great festival integral to the Meitei society.

I wonder if today's children will ever be able to experience the exhilarating joy and complete abandonment with which we experienced Yaoshang in our childhood days. Call it a Hindu festival or an indigenous seasonal festival on which Hinduism was superimposed to give a Hinduistic tenor, fact remains that nowhere is the Hindu festival of 'Holi' celebrated for a full five days by any Hindu community except the Meiteis.

Water Festival was and is a purely oriental festival, celebrated in the post harvest seasons by the people inhabiting the present Indo-Burma region. It is most likely that 'colours' was introduced into this festival by the Hindu missionaries to Hinduise the festival as has been done in the cases of 'Mongba hanba Hiden' as Hanuman Thakur/ Mahaballi Khubam, 'Nongpok Ningthou' as Baruni Mahadev, 'Panthoibi Khubam' as Hiyangthang Kamakhya Mandir etc.

Yaoshang is a Meitei festival, pure and simple. Basically a tribalistic society, Yaoshang is a post harvest festival of the Meiteis. Completely dependent upon the vagaries of nature for its livelihood, the Meiteis annually passed through hardships during Thawan-Langban (months of shortages) and reaped the harvests in Poinu (harvesting month).

However, Yaoshong was/is celebrated in the month of Lamda (Feb-March), a season in which the community have just emerged from the hardships and endured the harshness of 'Wakching gi Ullen' (icy winter), heaving a sigh of relief with the advent of 'Yenning Tha' (Spring).

Yaoshang is a festival for all ages. Children get new clothes, toys and playthings; the unmarried have their merriment and 'Thabal Chongba' (folk dance); the young married people have 'Yaoshang Chakchanaba' (community feasting) and elders celebrated with songs and prayers praising the Almighty for its graciousness.

There never was any angst or ill-will, nor were there any negative ethos during the celebrations in the earlier days.

However, with increased population and advent of complexities of modern day societies, the purity of the celebration gradually degenerated into negativism.

It is the greatness of the Meitei society that the young and educated generation has salvaged this great festival by transforming it into a festivity which promotes sporting potential and youth development, as Yaoshang is seen today.

However, I still yearn for those golden days when Yaoshang used to be a festival of exhilarating enjoyment with complete abandonment.


* P Dhanakumar wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao
This article was posted on March 10, 2015.


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