When Spring Arrives, Can Yaoshang Be Far Behind?

When the full-moon brightens up the sky of lamta, when spring is finally summoned by seasonal lairembi, we celebrate Yaoshang — the much awaited carnival of the year. From angaang-nubi to ahal-laman, the festival is meant for everyone. During Yaoshang, there is no rich or poor, every one celebrates the festival in high spirits.

Yaoshang is a sweetheart for every one for weather and various other reasons. The only sad part of Yaoshang month is that yongchaak starts dry-cleaning his black overcoat, ready to put it on and say goodbye for the whole year. Yes, dear Yongchaak, you will be badly missed in many chakhums in Manipuri. The akangba maru is no match for the fresh and energetic Yongchaak, who rocks every chakhum a season ago across the state.

Unlike in North India and other states, Yaoshang, in Manipur, is celebrated for five long days. I do not feel envious about the North Indian way of celebrating Holi. All my good memories about the festival (as I mentioned in one of my earlier columns) trace back to those childhood days. The norms of celebrating Yaoshang have changed over the years, but the essence still prevails. The very mention of Yaoshang triggers our taste bud for pafor, gulla macha, heiyaai, baraf and of course, the most cooked insaang — kobi (foon) saag.

When it comes to the Yaoshang related achapot, modern kids are luckier to relish branded ice creams and snacks of all sorts. Back in those days, ice cream meant to us that plain, white colour ice (sans cream) cupped inside a plain cone. We relished it with utter delight; licking the more of ice, less of cream yet to our heart’s content. I believe, even Baskin & Robbins cannot compare the branding strategy of that particular ice cream, eh!

Well, children have their own reason why Yaoshang is a favourite of all the festivals. They have the license to be notorious playing with water and peshkari. Yaoshang is also one such festival that provides the license to children to ask pocket money from anyone at the leikai. They visit homes humming their favourite slogan — ‘Nakadeng laak-ae paisa piyu’. Some of the kids keep on the legacy of ‘Yaoshang special chaak chaanaba’. Holding a thumok in their hands, they visit from home to home buzzing, ‘Cheng leire cheng piyu, paisa leire paisa piyu’ — one does not have a choice but to offer those kids why they are asking.

All these while, I have been writing this column with a deep longingness for the festival and its essence. However, I feel good in my heart for all my folks back at home who are eagerly waiting for this festival. For the theist in me, I cannot help thanking God that we at least have Yaoshang. Yes indeed “Thank You Lord — Ebudhou/Ebendhou /Jesus/Krishna/Alah (whosoever) for Yaoshang”. We can have this break from the ennui that has become a part and parcel of our lives.

We need many Yaoshang-like festivals in our state to cherish life and to fight back the chronic and nauseating issues. From the context of Hinduism, Holi is celebrated as a triumph of good over bad. I wish to live that day when all of us celebrate our typical Yaoshang with the same spirit. It would be like icing the cake and I am already starving for it.

This year’s Yaoshang festival is going to kick-start in a few days. I am sure everyone is on high-spirit to celebrate the festival. I, through this column, personally wish everyone ‘A Very Happy & Colourful Yaoshang’. I would love to see many colourful pictures of the celebration across the state. So, kindly jam my newsfeed on Facebook with pictures of Yaoshang during the festival. Once again, happy Yaoshang to everyone.

This article was published on 24 March 2013

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