The Colors of Joy | Milaap

The Colors of Joy

I had always despised people playing with colours. I found Holi to be the most maddening, chaotic and a filthy festival of all. Folks will come up to you and rub colours all over your face and hair, into your eyes and paint your soul like a canvas. My soul has only one colour, i.e., black, I intended to keep it that way. Manipur did not agree with me. It said, “It's time you came down off your high horse.” As a result, after several years of staying away from colours, I allowed myself to enjoy this festival.

In Manipur, Yaosang is celebrated for five days. Yaosang brings together Hindu and aboriginal traditions of the Meitei people. This festival shares its resemblance with the festival of Holi. In Manipur, this festival is considered to be the most important festival.


The Hindu-Meiteis of Manipur play with colours during this festival. At this time of the year, children (especially, the young girls) ask at every house for monetary contributions. This practice is popularly known as nakatheng.

On the second day of the festival, sankirtan is performed by groups of local bands in the Govindaji Temple.The temple has two gold-plated domes. It has a paved court and a large hall for the worshippers. The innermost sanctum has the main deity of Govindaji. My companion explained to me that this deity is actually the incarnation of Lord Krishna.  Originally, the temple was built in 1846 during the reign of Maharaja Nara Singh. In the year, 1876, Maharaja Chandrakriti rebuilt this temple.

One of the most interesting things, that I came across during my road trip on the second day of this festival, was how young women blocked roads with ropes and collected money. They collect money to celebrate Thabal Chongba. This festival involves males from various places, turning up to the site of the festival and dancing in circles with the females. The men and women hold each other's hand while dancing. The women wear phaneks (a traditional wear), but the men wear casual clothes.

In addition, I also noticed a number of sporting events being conducted on the roads. People from all age groups participate in these events.

On the fifth day, people splashed water on each other on the road. There were no restraints, and water was splashed on the passerby and the cars. I acquired the courage to get outside of the car to click a few photographs. I insisted my companions to protect me from the colour.

Well, they failed. Let’s just say that at the end of the day, I was smeared with yellow colour. I still don’t like playing with colours, but this city did cut open the ropes tying my hands behind. It taught me how to shed my inhibitions.