The celebration of Holi festival in Manipur lasts for more than six days. This is because of the old festival of Manipur named Yaosang which coincides with Holi. Traditional songs and music is played and a hut made of twigs and hay is burnt on the eve of Holi festival. Unlike other places of Northeast India, the Meiteis residing in Imphal valley are Hindus and the spring holyday of Holi also known as Yaosang is celebrated in a unique way.
Yaosang festival is celebrated by the Manipuri society with great enthusiasm. This festival is one of the important festivals of Manipur and is celebrated on Phalgun Purnima i.e. the full moon day of the month Phalgun. In al last most all localities various kinds of sports are organized as a part of the festival celebration since last five decades. The main attraction of Yaosang festival is the traditional folk dance called Thabal Chongba. Thabal means moonlight and Chongba means dance. Thus this dance is performed in moonlight along with some folk songs. The musical instrument which is used in this performance is a dholakar drum. Nowadays, lanterns are also used and besides dholakar drum, dishes and metal tubes are also used. Patromax is also used in Thabal Chongba as source of light. Patromax is nothing but a paraffin lamp which uses a mantle. In this traditional Manipuri dance, the boys and girls hold one another’s hands and sing and dance. Boys wear dhoti and girls wear phanek during Thabal Chongba.
The festival of Holi and Yaosang is not restricted to children but also the adults and old people take equal delight of this festival. On the first day of Yaosang, boys and girls go door to door to collect money. This money is spent for merry making during this festival. Colours are applied to each other in the locality.
Devotees in Manipur dress themselves in traditional yellow and white turbans and visit the temple of lord Krishna. There they sing devotional songs in front of the idol of Lord Krishna. Also they play gulal among themselves in front of the temple and take the enjoyment to the fullest. On the last day of Holi and Yaosang, devotees take processions and proceed towards the main temple of lord Krishna which is located 3 Km west of Imphal, the capital city of Manipur. In this temple also the devotees perform traditional and cultural activities and celebrate the festival. A tribute to Lord Krishna is given on the auspicious day of Holi.
During the day time of this festival, each locality organizes a sports festival. This sports festival has a mix of various competitions and held at various play grounds in the locality. There is a true community building feelings being shared among the people. The organizers arrange many interesting games such as freeze dance, tug of war, foot races, musical chairs as well as football. The game of football is very popular among the Manipuri community.
In addition to sports, evening program consists of various performances of martial arts and traditional dance competition by the people of locality.