IMPHAL, March 22 - People in Manipur, mostly Hindus, have begun celebrating the local version of Holi called Yaoshang, the greatest festival of the State, with ritual burning of the �Yaoshang� structure made of straw and bamboo since Thursday. The festival will conclude on March 25.
The festival which marks the rejuvenation of the spirit of life and is celebrated with gaiety and enthusiasm, commemorates the birthday of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
The festival usually begins on full Moon day of the Meitei Lunar month of Lamta (February-March) and is celebrated for five days. The highlight of the festival, celebrated mostly in the valley area by the Meiteis, is collection of donations from households by pre-puberty young boys and girls dressed in their fineries, playing with colours and water.
The main highlight of the festival includes the Thabal Chongba, a traditional Manipuri folk dance where boys and girls hold hands, sing and dance in a circle. A festive mood has filled the air here in the State capital.
On the first day on Thursday and Friday, the members of local clubs here thronged the historic Kangla Fort to collect the sacred fire for their torch rallies.
The media houses here have announced a five-day holiday on account of the festival. As a result, no daily newspaper will hit the stands till March 26. The All Manipur Working Journalists� Union has organised a five-day sports meet on the occasion of the festival.
Meanwhile, Manipur Governor Dr Najma Heptulla, Chief Minister N Biren Singh, Speaker Yumnam Khemchand, in their messages, have conveyed greetings to the people of Manipur on the occasion of Yaoshang festival.