Leader Writer: Paojel Chaoba
Yaoshang has ended. This time, the festivities with the usual dash of colors had a different hue as the new generation came out to play. Roadside music shows with live bands playing and DJs churning out ‘shaky beats’ enthralled the generation-X. Young girls sat on the window of driving cars which came in cavalcades. The hair styles and the vibrant dresses of the youths, the dances with caution thrown to the winds makes one want to turn back the clock a couple of decades.
The roadside music shows were quite spectacular and further scrutinizing the people of neighborhood was equally interesting.The old generation could be seen with sheer amazement on their faces, as the youngsters shaked legs, splashed water to the crowd from pipes, opened up soda-beer bottles as Formula-1 drivers do on the podium, the young rocker using swear words fashionably. The scene was one of youngsters going beserk but in a somewhat controlled way. The bewildered onlookers including the nearby residents took it in stride. But if this scene had happened a decade back, then the result might have been different. Clarifications in papers and meira paibis, one ponders!
Things have changed and the face-book generation has stamped their mark on the society. In introspection; people change, the skyline change, rivers run on concrete embankments, the hills have lesser tress, railroad tracks are being laid and the saying is there that there is nothing permanent like change. We hope with hope that the change will be for the better.
Now, there is the hardcore non-conformist who refuses to change. Their feelings of a cultural invasion and our own ethnicity eroding have room for discussion and further recourse. But, it should be discussed priorly as that the decision taken by some for the interest of one community may affect the other community or implode among the same community itself. Imposing of Meitei-Mayek on vehicle registration numbers and the school syllabus met with the said results in the hill districts. Similarly, the effectiveness of the Pheijom dress code dictate for Meitei ceremonial occasions remains to be seen. How is the organization going to enforce that? Will they start visiting all the weddings, or pull away the kurta from the unsuspecting person. As, the Meitei weddings mostly fall on the same auspicious date, the enforcers would have to visit an ample number of ceremonies in all valley districts. They also run the risk of getting mobbed for trying to disrupt the occasion.
What can a parent tell his son about his new ‘Korean hairdo’. It may look like an untidy mess, but it is the latest trend. You cannot tell him to keep his hair like his father did. It would be akin to ordering him to listen to the radio and surrender his smart phone.
It is wise to protect and preserve our ethnicity and rituals. But, the preservation should be exemplary. For example, the Pheijom may be worn in such a way as to inspire the youngsters and talking to them about the advantages. Untying the knot of a kurta is sometimes problematic, when in a hurry. But, not so in the case of the pheijom. A blanket ban in the newspapers about dresses would border on impracticability and irritate the rebellious new generation. There were instances in time when women were told to wear certain apparel. The move was rubbished by the women and had scant effect.
Christianity is dominant in the hill districts. But, when the public goes to church, they come out in their Sunday best wearing their traditional dresses, which is a beautiful sight to see. Similarly, such balances need to be kept and practiced within every ethnic community.
The elders may not feel nostalgic while witnessing the thabal chongba, as there is no proper rhythm with the energetic youths. But, for the sake of tradition or nostalgia, an elder can always volunteer to lead the line for teaching them how it is done. An action of lighting the candle ,instead of cursing the darkness. What is the use of imposing certain dress codes when girls wearing phanek and boys in pheijoms are cutting disco moves with Gangnam style at thabals.
As, change begins with oneself. Similarly, preservation also rests with one. Forcing one’s want on others borders more on oppression and insensibility. So, if the young crowd is jumping to the yaoshang music concert next time in the streets. One can always put on a cap and a big sunglass and join the young crowd in the mosh pit, as your eligibility is over at the thabal chongba.
The Scorpions band sang the “Winds of Change” in many continents and that wind is certainly blowing in Manipur too.