Amid a resurgence in Covid-19 cases in some states, the Manipur government has tightened curbs and banned all forms of person-to-person contact, including Thabal Chongba, a popular folk dance and one of the top draws of the traditional Yaoshang festival.
Chief Secretary Rajesh Kumar issued an order, stating, “No activity involving person-to-person contact such as ‘thabal chongba’ or ‘jatrawali’ shall be permitted but ‘Yaoshang sports’ may be organised subject to observation of relevant SOPs”.
The festivities around Yaoshang are likely to increase human interaction and physical contact, adding to fears of a second wave amid a fresh wave of infections being reported in some states, the order stated.
It called on all deputy commissioners and district superintendents of police to strictly enforce curbs and deal firmly with violations, if any.
While there’s no ban on holding Yaoshang sports, the state on Thursday issued an advisory on preventive measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 during the festival. These include prohibition on spraying or applying colours on others.
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Yaoshang festival of the indigenous Meitei community is celebrated for five days starting on the full moon of Lamta (February-March) of the Meitei lunar calendar.
It is often described as Manipur’s version of Holi, but unlike the Festival of Colours, it has a traditional twist. During the five-day period, the state comes alive with myriad festivities — from sporting events during daytime to Thabal Chongba dance at night.
A traditional dance form of the Meitei people, Thabal Chongba is usually performed during the full moon where boys and girls converge in open grounds and dance in a circle holding hands till late into the night. These days, however, the dance is performed throughout the month of Lamta.
During the five-day long festivity, all business and commercial activities, including public transportation, comes to a grinding halt. Almost all institutions, both government-run and private, also remain closed. This year, the festival will kick off on March 29.