Thought on full five days of Yaoshang Can Manipur really afford it ?

Festival of colour. This is the sobriquet of Holi festival or Yaoshang as it is known in the local parlance. The big question is whether it is really a festival of colour or a waste of time and resources. This question is important in the face of the fact that not too long back, Chief Minister N Biren in a post on Facebook had raised the question of whether it would be better to cut down the number of days, from a full five days of festival to something like two or three days. This is worth pondering, for the question is, can Manipur really afford to indulge in full five days of festivity ? The focus of the festival may have shifted from the earlier days when it was mostly about young boys moving around in groups to sprinkle or paste aber and powder on each other, to sports. This is a welcome change, but yet it remains that for full five days, Manipur or rather the valley will be switched off. Apart from shops downing shutters for full five days, there will be no or little commercial activities at the three Ima Keithels while all major commercial centres such as Thangal Keithel, Paona Keithel, BT Road etc will see little or no commercial activity. Most of the Government departments too will see little or no official work and yes as usual the press, will shut shop for fives days on the trot. As explained many times in this column earlier, media houses shut shop for full five days during Yaoshang, not because there are no events to be covered, but because hawkers or distributors prefer not to come to collect the day’s papers from the newspapers’ distribution sections. The logic is simple. Distributing newspaper is the profession of the distributors or hawkers as they are known here, but when young girls and boys come out on the roads and put up road blocks to stop each and every passers by and ask for money, then coming out during Yaoshang to distribute the day’s paper to earn some money makes no sense.
Many years back, The Sangai Express and the other media houses in Imphal decided to cut down the number of days and start work from the fourth day. This idea was however dropped the next year, for nothing is more disappointing than to see thousands of unsold newspaper lying to greet the journalists when they come to office the next day. This was what happened to The Sangai Express. Makes no sense to publish the day’s paper if the papers are not going to get distributed to the readers. This is the logic. This point has been spelt out in some details here, for it is not uncommon for the people to question why the media/newspaper houses should take a five day break during Yaoshang. The stand of the newspapers is clear. Ensure that distributors and journalists are given free movement during Yaoshang and newspaper houses need not take a five day break. So in a few days time, Imphal and the valley area will be gripped by Yaoshang fever and while the festival should be celebrated in its truest sense, some thoughts also should be given to the youngsters who are appearing for the Class X and Class XII board examinations. Do not disturb them, and this is where organisers of Thabal Chongba need to ensure that the sound limit of the event is minimised or kept under control so as not to disturb anyone. Celebrations should come with its share of responsibilities.

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