A FESTIVAL CELEBRATED IN SPRING SEASON STARTING FROM THE FULL MOON DAY OF LAMDA(MARCH) FOR SIX WHOLE DAYS BY THE PEOPLE OF MANIPUR. THABAL CHONGBA IS PERFORMED. PEOPLE PLAY WITH COLOURS
SIGNIFICANCE AND HISTORY:
Yaosang is an important festival of the people residing in Manipur that begins on the Full Moon day or ‘Purnima’ of the month of ‘Lamda’ or March and the celebration continues for further six days. The word ‘Yaosang’ means a hut made from bamboo.
Yaosang resembles the ‘Holi’ festival celebrated by the Hindus. In other words it is a Manipuri edition of Holi. It is a festival of colours that is celebrated in the season of spring. Like Holi it is also a festival of rejoicing that depicts the triumph of good over the evil.
According to the legends Lord Krishna was very fond of colours. At that time the colours were made natural items such as flowers (specially Palash,tesu). Lord Krishna used to apply colours on his beloved Radha along with other Gopikas. This was a very part of his merry making and having fun. Later on, the application of colours became a custom and took the form of a festival.
The people engage themselves in building a bamboo hut or Yaosang, especially by the wayside on the initial day of the festival. This day is also celebrated as the birthday of ‘Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’ who was a Vaishnav. An image of Gauranga ‘Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’ is positioned inside the hut by a local priest or Brahmin in the evening. A puja is offered to the idol that is followed by the singing of holy songs such as ‘Kirtans’ accompanied by the cymbals and drums. Narrations are also chanted from the sacred books of Hindus.
At the end the idol is taken out from the hut and the hut is put on fire with the shouting of words such as ‘Hari Bol’. The ashes are considered to be auspicious and therefore are put on the doorway of the houses and the foreheads of the devotees as a mark of good luck.
The youth of the village visit the doorways of the houses for ‘Nakathengba’ that means asking for money. Donation is collected by the girls especially outdoors from the people of the roadsides and this is known as ‘Shelmunba’. The collection of this money is used for the purpose of making merry and enjoying.
In the daytime people play with different bright colours either in the powdered forms known as ‘Gulal’ or liquid colours filled in ‘Pichkaris’.
In the evening ‘Thabal chongba’ dance is performed by the young girls and boys. The word ‘Thabal’ means moonlight and ‘Chongba’ means dance. In other words it is a dance performed in the moonlight. The youth join hands and dance together with the singing of folk songs accompanied by the beating of drums. The boys wear ‘Pheijom’ that means dhoti and girls put on ‘Phanek’ meaning a cloth of tenderloin.
Before 1950s this dance was only performed in the moonlight but some changes were made later on by keeping the present needs of the people in mind. Paraffin Gas lamps also known as Patromax and lanterns were introduced in the performance of the Thabal Chongba dances.