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Yaoshang festivities and exams

IFP Editorial: Restricting the festivities beyond five days in view of examinations is okay, but saying Yaoshang and Thabal Chongba has a negative impact on the morals of the youth is questionable.

ByIFP Bureau

Updated 25 Mar 2022, 4:34 am

(File Photo: IFP)
(File Photo: IFP)

 

The five-day festivities of Yaoshang is finally over, but entertainment programmes sponsored by winning candidates in the just concluded assembly elections still goes on. Normally, festivities continue beyond the five-day period in the past as it so happens that adolescent urges linger on during this time and space. However, as Class X Board and Class XII Council examinations fall around this time, the festivities had been restricted in the five-day period in the last few years. This year also, at least six valley-based student bodies had urged the people of Manipur to immediately stop organising any kind of entertainment programmes such as Thabal Chongba, musical concert, Leela and other programmes in view of the upcoming BOSEM and COHSEM examination.

The six student bodies included the All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU), the Manipur Students’ Federation (MSF), the Democratic Students Alliance of Manipur (DESAM), the Kangleipak Students’ Association (KSA), the Students’ Union of Kangleipak (SUK) and the Apunba Imagi Machasing (AIMS).

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than two academic years have been wasted without proper education. BOSEM examination for class X is scheduled from April 5 and COHSEM examination for class XI and XII is scheduled from April 8 and 7 respectively.

A joint release issued by the six student bodies said, entertainment programmes conducted in the name of culture and tradition lead to decreasing morality of the youths. They also appealed to the organisers who have already scheduled the date for ThabalChongba to postpone it till Cheiraoba. It also appealed to the local clubs, meirapaibis, band parties, sound and light contractors and others to resist from organising any sorts of entertainment programme.

Restricting the festivities beyond five days in view of examinations is okay, but saying Yaoshang and Thabal Chongba has a negative impact on the morals of the youth is questionable. Yaoshang is one of the most important festivals of Manipur which is celebrated for five days during the Meitei lunar month of Lamta. As it happens with the onset of Spring season, it is also associated with age-old tradition of Thabal Chongba which is in fact a formal occasion for young boys and girls to meet.

What is Thabal Chongba and what it means for the Manipuri society? One often tries to get away with the simplistic description of a popular folk dance during the annual Yaoshang Festival and by even a literal definition of Thabalchongba as ‘dancing by moonlight’.

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The only other occasion existing till today albeit only in some rural areas is ‘Likkon-Saanaba’ where young boys and girls gather for a game of dice. Perhaps it is because of the stars, adolescent urges to understand members of the other sex begin to develop in the Meitei month of Lamta as a prelude to the onset of the creation festivities like Lai Haraoba season in the month of Kalen. Every youth has gone through this phase and no one had bypass it. ThabalChongba is one such occasion where the adolescent urges or itch is channelized ritually through a merry dance. It is not just of holding hands and dancing away the night with gay abandon. For two consecutive years we have banned the ThabalChongba ritual or festivities. It means bottling up the itch or adolescent urges and it could most possibly lead to negative social situations which we all would want to avoid.

We have seen in the past, explosion of negative sexual behaviour among the youth as a result of extreme forms of restrictions and conservatism. Essentially, ThabalChongba is a folk dance with a purpose for the Manipuris. It serves as one of the socially sanctioned forms of courtship between adolescent boys and girls, with roots in the creation myths and fertility rites of yore.

Being a conservative society, courting is usually allowed at the girl’s home under parental supervision. Yet, socially sanctioned spaces are also created for boys and girls to meet and get to know each other. ThabalChongba is one such space which continues till today although the forms and settings have evolved. But, it is always under the watchful eyes of the brothers and mothers as it is always held at the locality of the girl.

--Editorial

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First published:25 Mar 2022, 4:34 am

Tags:

yaoshangBOSEMCOHSEMAIMSthabal chongbaentertainmentleela

IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur

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