IMPHAL: Sports events throughout the day and Thabal Chongba dance performances at night define the five days of Yaoshang festivities for Manipuris. Most of the sports events, that include both indigenous and international sports, are sponsored by people in memory of their deceased family members. For a State that has represented the country in almost every significant sporting event, Yaoshang is incomplete without sports.
“Families donate the expenses of sports events to honour their deceased relatives. Hence, that particular event in named after the person in memory. However, if the family is unable to pay the entire amount, the remainder is paid by the sporting club,” said Moirangthem Ngouba, an organiser of Khongman Students’ Club.
“The family sponsorships are also not kept very high. This is because the donations should not reflect the inequality of the society. Hence, an average amount of around Rs 2,000 is taken,” he added.
The community-based events that see participation of people from all walks of life are held to increase the community bonding among the residents of a particular locality. The mornings in Imphal during the Yaoshang festivities begin with loudspeakers blaring out the events of the day. Beginning at around 8 AM in the morning, the events continue till dusk. Besides international sports such as Hockey, Volleyball and Football, an array of indigenous sports have their place in Yaoshang festivities.
“Events such as ‘Sepak Takraw’ or 15th century kick volleyball, ‘Yubi Lakpi’ which is similar to American football, ‘Laphu Kabi’ or climbing a banana tree with greasy body and placing a flag on the top, ‘Jora Lamjel’ or three-legged race and ‘Chaphu Thugaibi’ or breaking of earthen pot—blindfolded, are some of the indigenous sports that are held in every locality of Imphal valley during the five days of Yaoshang festivities,” said Thokchom Bikramjit of a sporting club in Leishampat area of Imphal.
The sponsors feel that by donating money for the sports in the memory of their deceased relatives, not only their relatives but all the residents of a particular family would remember the dead. “It is just a simple way of rekindling the memories of a deceased person among his or her friends, relatives and acquaintances,” said Ninthoujam Birendro, a sporting event sponsor in Sagolband area of Imphal.
Indigenous Manipuri sports at Yaoshang:
1. Sepak Takraw: 15th century kick volleyball in which participants use legs and head to play the game. Ball used is made up of woody vines.
2. Laphu Kabi: Participant climbs a banana tree with oil smeared on body. He has to place a flag on top of the tree.
3. Jora Lamjel: One right leg and one left leg of two participants are tied for the three-legged race.
4. Chaphu Thugaibi: Blindfolded participants have to break an upside down earthen pot placed on a bamboo placed around 20 m from him/her.