A ban on Thabal Chongba
It was not unexpected of the Government to put a ban on Thabal Chongba and Shumang Lila ahead of the coming Yaoshang festival and in the same vein it was also not unexpected of the voices of derision that have come from some of the citizens of the land. Here it is interesting to note that the derision is not on the decision of the Government to ban Thabal Chongba per se but on how conveniently the Government has overlooked the fact that there were Thabal Chongbas galore after results of the by elections to five Assembly Constituencies in November last year were announced. And it was the BJP which walked away with four of the seats while the other one went to an Independent candidate ! The BJP led Government at Imphal also did not bat an eye lid when the call for maintaining social distancing was clobbered for a big six in the campaigning for the by elections and it is this double speak which has been questioned and derided by many on the social media. The voices of derision that have been raised should not merely be brushed away for here is an example of the Government seeming to say, ‘we may do it, but you people cannot.’ The concern over the manner in which the call for social distancing was flouted with impunity was something which has already been aired at that point of time and just one day before the Government came out with its strictures for the coming Yaoshang festival, The Sangai Express had verbalised its voice of concern in this same column. The derision apart, it is important for everyone to acknowledge that what the Government has stipulated is for the welfare and safety of everyone and it is not the past which should concern the people, but how they conduct themselves during the coming Yaoshang festival for the fact stands that the virus is still out there.
A ban on Thabal Chongba and Shumang Lila should also be seen beyond the ground where the two events are held. It should mean a drastic reduction in the number of road blocks where young girls and not so young girls come out in hordes to stop passers by and collect money to organise the two events. A reduction in road blocks would mean giving less room for close human interaction and give more teeth to the understanding of social distancing. These are all steps in the right direction and regulating people’s movement and their conduct during the Yaoshang festival can be that much more successful with the active participation of the people. This is where the Government would do wise to take all the MLAs into confidence. These MLAs would be in a better position to get in touch with the leikai clubs and organisations and ensure that the ban on Thabal Chongba and Shumang Lila is enforced strictly. The Government has not spelt it out, but there is no reason why people should throw caution to the wind and organise leikai level feasting during the Yaoshang festival. The virus is serious. It means business as the number of deaths should testify as well as the crippling blow it has dealt to the world economy. The reason behind the ban on Thabal Chongba and Shumang Lila should be understood and appreciated for it is in the good of all. And time for the Government for self introspection as well.