Making Sense of Yaoshang
The festival of colour, Yaoshang has arrived. It is one among many that the Meitei community has in their calendar of festivals. The festival has drawn flaks from critical observers that five days are too long of a time to be celebrated as festival. This is true keeping in view the frequent disturbances that we witness as general strikes, boycotts and other forms of agitations. The argument is that valuable working days are wasted due to these disturbances. Five-day long festival would add to the loss. The argument seems to hold ground if one looks it at the superficial level. But there are rough edges if one scratches below the surface. The value of time is something which everybody talks about. Yet nobody seems to practice what they preach. How many government employees reach their offices in time? Has any public function or ceremony ever started on time? These questions are not to belittle the issue that has been raised as far as time management is concern. It is a genuine concern demanding serious introspection from everyone. As of now, the Yaoshang sports have given a different look to the festival. The entire valley in unison carries out sports competitions during the five days. Romantic claims are made that Yaoshang sports could be the bedrock to Olympics. A claim little too hard to digest. One cannot feed oneself with optimism alone. The road to Olympics is not that short. A five day event might help in spotting some hidden talents among the children. The remaining days of the year are spent in schools without playgrounds. Most of the schools in Imphal are without playground. In these schools, students are regimented into the four walls of classroom. Their talents nipped and energy bottled up. And more sadly, slogging for examination marks has been set as a marker of ideal education. These schools are in a way committing the blunder of stealing away the golden age of our children.
About two decades back the then Sagolband Apunba Naharol (SAN), a conglomerate of all the clubs of Sagolband, that is from Wahengbam Leikai to Konthoujam, which stretches along the New Cachar road had the biggest sports competitions during Yaoshang. It was known as SAN Sports. Stiff competitions used to take place in different fields. To be the overall champion of the event was a prestigious achievement. We are little aware of how a sporting event of that scale could die a sudden death. Had SAN Sports carried on till today, we believe, the event could have become a state level sports festival. Nevertheless, the state level Kanglei Mega Sports Festival, which is completing its sixth year this time, organised by the Kangleipak Students Association is a good going. Yaoshang Sports today is a once in a year gathering of the leikai, filled with fun and entertainment. The fast change in the growing urban life style has curtailed socialisation among the leikai. For elders they have an avenue for gathering during the Yaoshang at Holi Pala. Let Yaoshang sports be the ground where community children get intermingled, take out time to make friends with each other – away from the daily grind of classwork and homework. Let it be also the time to welcome new brides who have arrived in the leikai. Let them share a moment of laughter with the rest of the women who have toiled to run homes. We wish everyone a safe and a happy Yaoshang.
By Senate Kh.