Yaoshang of the Youth: Holi in Manipur

Yaoshang is the spring festival in the state of Manipur, India. In recent years, the youth has given it a modern spin.

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The spring festival of Holi is celebrated by the Meitei tribe of Manipur, as Yaoshang, and lasts for over five days. Yaoshang is one of the most important festivals in the state and is celebrated with colour and fervour.

The Youth Collects to Celebrate A Modern Holi (2020-03)Incredible India!

A variety of new traditions have emerged, with practices such as rock concerts, sports festivals, moonlight dances and more.

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Rock Concerts - Now a Yaoshang Standard

Neighbourhood rock concerts are put up during the festival with local musicians performing onstage to a predominantly young audience.

A Modern Holi Being Celebrated with a Concert (2020-03)Incredible India!

Youngsters Attend Yaoshang Concerts

The audience collects at local festive complexes where large stages are set up. The youngsters also play with powdered colour during the performances. 

Popular Moonlight Folk Dance, Thabal Chongba (2020-03)Incredible India!

Thabal Chongba - Moonlight Dancing

Following the lunar calendar, the festival leads up to the full moon night that officially onsets the season of spring. Thabal Chongba, literally translating to Moonlight Dances, is another tradition embraced by Manipur’s youth daily.

Conservative Meitei parents have long restricted their girls from interacting with the local boys, except during Thabal Chongba.

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The moonlight dancing gives the girls an opportunity to socialise with boys their age. They take this opportunity to wear their festive best and the boys get a chance to show off their eligibility.

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The Music of Thabal Chongba

Traditionally, folk songs would be sung and dances would be under the natural light of the moon.

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Nowadays, large gatherings are organised and local bands are called to perform who create the dance atmosphere with drums, saxophones, flutes, cymbals and more. 

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The boys and girls hold hands in concentric circles and dance along to a series of common steps. The more people who join in, the larger the circles grow so that everyone can participate.

Performing the Moonlight DanceIncredible India!

The boys and girls hold hands in concentric circles and dance along to a series of common steps. The more people who join in, the larger the circles grow so that everyone can participate.

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Yubi Lakpi - A Traditional Meitei Sport

The youngsters in Manipur are passionate not only about dance, but sports as well. Yubi Lakpi is kind of Indian rugby, and official matches are held that honour the festival. 

Learn more about the game here.

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The Yaoshang festival has become an opportunity to promote sporting events and a chance for the local youth to represent their localities with pride. 

A Local Women's Club Carrying the Holi Fire (2020-03)Incredible India!

While Yubi Lakpi remains the key festive sport, football, volleyball, cycling, and cross-country races have also become a grand affair and last the duration of the festival.

A Crowd Celebrates Holi (2020-03)Incredible India!

Tradition Meets Modernity

Manipur is a state where tradition has flawlessly mingled with modernity, lending its very own twist to the state’s colourful spring celebrations.

Explore more elements of Holi here.

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