TODAY -

Yaoshang and Dance of Democracy loom : The lingering echo of the crying Mother

Takhellambam Nepolin *



In the picturesque land of Manipur, as the vibrant festival of colours, Yaoshang and the grand celebration of democracy approach, the season is filled with anticipation and joy. Despite this season of festivity, the people of Manipur remain in deep sorrow due to the ongoing conflict between the Meitei/Meetei and Chin-Kuki communities for the past ten months, despite the lull in confrontations now. As champions of peace, the people of Manipur are often hailed for their harmony and tranquillity.

The melody of peace, however, seems to fade as we witness the clamour of elections and the vibrant hues of festivals. Despite their earnest efforts, the serenity they strive for is increasingly drowned out. Yet, amidst this cacophony, the sorrowful cries of mothers echo louder with each passing day.

Amid the turmoil, many children are sheltered in various relief camps, their innocent hearts yearning to partake in the joyous festivities of colour. Their mothers’ anguish betrays a more profound pain, and their hearts are heavy with concern for the safety and well-being of their children.

The ongoing conflict in Manipur has inflicted a profound toll on the human security of its people. Many seek refuge in various relief camps within their State, torn from their loved ones. Lives have been shattered, families torn apart, and countless individuals remain missing. The devastating loss of homes for thousands has left deep psychological scars, haunting their minds and hearts with restless unease.

In the face of such critical circumstances, the people of Manipur yearn for one thing above all: peace. They long to return to the sanctuary of their homes, regardless of their condition, for there truly is no place like home. The anguish of mothers mourning the separation from their sons reverberates throughout the land, their cries echoing louder with each passing day.

Though hailed as heroes, the people of Manipur recognise that true heroism lies in the courage to strive for peace. Yet, amidst the turmoil, the once-resounding voice of Manipuri’s mothers calling for peace has fallen silent. Their silent plea speaks volumes—a poignant reminder of their beloved land’s urgent need for reconciliation and harmony.

Amidst the backdrop of turmoil, another narrative is unfolding: the imminent Lok Sabha elections, hailed as the grandest festival of democracy. Television channels buzz with discussions, political parties gear up, and the anticipation builds. However, amidst this enthusiasm, the people of Manipur harbour a genuine desire for peace before the elections, recognising the paramount importance of the electoral process itself.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has already unveiled the election schedule for Manipur, delineating it into two phases. Political parties have swiftly begun their preparations, with candidates being carefully selected. The Communist Party of India (CPI) has nominated L Sotinkumar for the Inner Manipur Lok Sabha Constituency.

The Indian National Congress (INC) has nominated JNU Prof A Bimol Akoijam for the Inner Manipur Lok Sabha Constituency and former MLA Alfred K Alfred for the Outer Manipur Lok Sabha Constituency. However, the ruling party, the BJP, has not officially announced its candidate. Amid this electoral buzz, the underlying call for peace in Manipur remains steadfast, echoing the sentiments of a populace longing for stability and tranquillity in their homeland.

Amidst the clamour of election manifestos and hollow promises, the resounding cry of the people of Manipur is for nothing but peace and stability. Their voices echo a collective yearning for a future free from conflict. On the one hand, some pledge their support to candidates who prioritise the pursuit of peace, viewing this as the cornerstone of their electoral decision.

On the other hand, another faction asserts their intention to vote for individuals who demonstrate unwavering advocacy for Manipur’s interests within the Parliamentary arena, regardless of political affiliation. Yet, amidst these divergent sentiments, a growing cohort expresses disillusionment with traditional political entities, calling instead for regional parties or fresh faces untethered to the status quo.

These voices clamour for independent voices unencumbered by partisan agendas, poised to champion Manipur’s cause without compromise or hesitation. In the crucible of Manipur’s current predicament, the looming Lok Sabha elections symbolise a pivotal moment of awakening.

Here, the old paradigms of influence—through muscle or money—hold little sway, for the electorate hungers not for the perpetuation of the familiar but for substantive change. This election, therefore, emerges as a beacon of possibility, heralding a dawn where the people’s aspirations transcend the confines of tradition and herald a new era of hope and progress.

In the tranquil embrace of March, neither chilly nor sweltering, the cacophony of bullets and bombs fades into silence. A serene calm blankets the land and conversations shift from conflict to the forthcoming festival of democracy. Yet, Manipur’s displaced souls find no solace amidst this normalcy veneer. Their hearts ache, and their minds remain unsettled. Meanwhile, the anticipation for the Yaoshang festival grows, especially among the children who eagerly await its arrival.

However, for the displaced, their yearning for home and tradition only adds to their anguish. Many among the people of Manipur are disheartened by the ongoing conflict, refusing to partake in the festivities, and questioning the relevance of celebrating when essential traditions like Ningol Chakkouba are forsaken due to strife.

A poignant question arises in this atmosphere of reflection : What takes precedence—restoring peace and rehabilitating the displaced or conducting elections ? The resounding sentiment is clear: without peace, the essence of democracy is hollow. While supporting elections to elect capable leaders is vital, it pales in significance without the bedrock of peace.

As sons and daughters of Manipur, we must heed the silent cries of our mothers and acknowledge the pain etched in their hearts. Before revelling in festivals or exercising our democratic rights, let us first wipe away the tears of our beloved land and embrace the tranquillity that peace bestows. Only then can we truly celebrate the festivals of Yaoshang and democracy in their whole spirit and essence.


* Takhellambam Nepolin wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on 29 March 2024

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