The Yaoshang Diary 2012

By the dusk of Lamtagi purnima, kids at every Leikai of Manipur, especially in the valley, eagerly wait for the Yaoshang hut to be burnt down. For no other reason but that instantly they can start visiting each and every house in their Leikai for nakadeng. The festive spirit of Yaoshang kick starts right on the purnima day of Lamta and the fest extends over five days.

A festival of colours, a perfect time to reunite with friends, families and relatives to indulge only in merrymaking, Yaoshang is one such festival that is celebrated with great pomp and show in our state. A much anticipated vacation for me, I enjoyed one of the best Yaoshang celebrations at my hometown with friends, family and relatives in high spirit. The norm of celebrating Yaoshang hasn’t changed much in all these years and it has gladdened my heart for many a reason.

The nakadeng culture, going on unabated, ensures the spirit of Yaoshang is alive and kicking. Children have been enjoying full-fledged liberty to ask money from anyone they come across at the street, anyone at the leikai lampak or anyone at the locality. This is a tradition that has been kept alive for all these years. I was quite elated to see so many kids loitering in the streets dressed in colourful joipur and fanek with sengaos in their hands (especially the girls).

Another top menu of Yaoshang especially among elders is a sumptuous feast. The very time of the year when one gets a continuous five days break from work, the laid-back feeling is too blatant. The festival is also one great excuse for an annual reunion and catching up with friends. And how delightful these treats are—when these are added with a delectable meal and a hard day’s laugh over funny narration of our lives, backwards and forward.

A cheerful festival, it is indeed fun to be with long lost friends and it is a great way to socialise during Yaoshang, forget Facebook. The best part is that one doesn’t need to bother about any hectic professional chore. One can simply relax, chill out and have as much fun without bothering a bit about a team meeting or worrying about any deadline.

From relishing singju, bora and keli chana with friends to enjoying late-night movies that are screened at the leikai lampak and from loitering all across Imphal, wearing colourful moirang feejin chanba fanek to watching the interesting Yaoshang events, we are spoilt for choice during this festival.

Yaoshang is a festival for all and sundry. So it has something to offer for everyone irrespective of ages or genders. In some localities, we can see men in their 70s actively taking part in football matches while in some others, it is fun to watch kids, grouped age-wise under 13, under 12 and under 10 enthusiastically taking part in a football match with a team from other leikai. Their excitement is commendable. Soccer fans would better understand what I am trying to imply here.

Borakhao lamjel, spoon and marble race, blind hit, pafor chabi, chaak thonglaga chaaba haanbi taanabi, King/ Queen Desire, Fashion show, cassette dance, fancy dress competition etc. are some fun filled sports and events especially held by the local clubs during the festival.

For kids, it is needless to mention that their happiness knows no bound during this very festival as they are licensed to be notorious for five days. They play with colours, run after one another with pichkaris in their hands and have as much fun that they can afford.

From age-olds to kids, everyone seems free spirited during this festival. People take a leisurely break and indulge only in those events that make them happy. Young and old, men and women took an ideal break and come together to indulge in various Yaoshang centric events held at their respective leikai lampak.

The festival also marks the annual come back of some eateries. Eateries such as gulla macha, pafor, boiled eggs etc. have been particularised as the very achapot for Yaoshang. With due regard to those cabbage farmers in Manipur, I must not forget to mention kobi saag which is a special dish cooked in every Manipuri home during Yaoshang. I still cannot define the connection between Yaoshang and kobi saag. Every Yaoshang, every Manipuri home finds it a norm to cook kobi saag. Maybe it is the seasonal availability of the vegetable and that is how it is closely associated and in fact considered a small piece of Yaoshang celebration. Hawai mubi (ariba), Yongchaak overcoat litpa, hayai, chorfon, heirit etc. are some more vegetables and fruits that are in during this festival.

If it is all about enjoying a fabulous time with friends over a plate of bora or kaanghou, Yaoshang is one such jovial festival during which one can have a good time. Yaoshang festival 2012 bid adieu with colourful memories imprinted in our hearts. We should have more of this festival. Till next Yaoshang, let us cherish the vivid memories of this fiesta.

This article was published on 18 March 2012

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