Asia India Photo Essays

The Land of Devi | Celebrating Holi in North East India

May 9, 2017

By Dewi Natalia

Holi is the festival of colour. It’s celebrated in every state in India in different styles and for the Manipuri it is indeed a unique way of celebration.

I will tell you about this Holi celebration. I met my first Manipuri friend in the Philippines and she connected me with a local photographer from her home town. His name is Saint Kamei, and every one seems to connect with different, new friends along my India journey oh yeah full on surprise.

One day before Holi I was in little town call Siliguri, the gate away to Darjeeling ,the land of tea. I thought I was in the wrong places for the Holi celebration because I was in North East India and it seems no one is celebrating out there. I was feeling a bit down, upset, angry I was guessing I was not gonna get epic shots. So I was just gonna let go of my expectations for getting the best shots and trust that better shots will come later. You know all the photographers in every state of India are shooting Holi, photo games are strong!

On that day I flew to Guwahati, the gateway of the North East, so I was still down and totally not excited anymore for Holi. I arrived in Guwahati around lunch time and all the shops and restaurants were shut down, only the Naga food courts are available. After lunch we went street shooting around our place and after that my local friend took me to a different little town, where the Manipuri diaspora live. Every one was wearing white and full on colour already. It seems like they are just beginning or they just started. They call their Holi celebration “Yaosang”.

Yaosang combines Hinduism and the traditions of the Meitei people. It is identified with the festival of Holi and is considered the most important festival in Manipur. Like Holi, the Hindu Meitei of Manipur plays with colour during this festival.Yaoshang is one of the festivals celebrated in Manipur. It is celebrated during spring in the month of Phalguna (February-March) which starts on the full moon day, for 6 days. It is celebrated by the Hindus and the indigenous traditions of the place. Yaoshang is one of the major festivals of Northeast India. Due to its similarity of the Indian festival Holi, it is often referred to as the ‘Holi of Manipur’.Yaosang begins just after sunset in every village with the Yaosang Mei thaba, or Burning of the Straw Hut. Then the children ask at every house for monetary donations, called nakatheng.

After I saw them I was so hyped to shoot again. Finally, I got the best experience of Holi and the best shots, beyond what I could have imagined. Personally at the end of the day and speaking for myself it is all about heart attitude. Simply don’t expect to take any good photos. Rather, just go with the flow, enjoy the slow pace of your walking, and enjoy the sights you experience. Don’t become disappointed if you go a long time without taking any good photos. I think we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves when it comes to photography, art, or our lives.















Dewi Natalia posted an expanded version of this story on her website, click here to see more and have a browse at the rest of her beautiful work. She can also be found on Instagram @forasiacheers

Dewi Natalia is a photographer from Indonesia who is also known around the web as For Asia Cheers. She combines her passion for travel with a strong talent for photography and connecting with local people. She has built a portfolio photographing around Asia, and hopes to see every corner of the continent. Her mission is to use the lens to capture the beauty of the world and transform that into a message which inspires and changes the way we see each other. She’s often more concerned with the people of a place, than the place itself.

  • Reply
    May Ann
    May 10, 2017 at 10:53 am

    Awesome! Nice festivity of colors…^_^

  • Reply
    Sonali Chauhan
    May 15, 2017 at 6:17 am

    Hi Dewi Natalia,

    You are such a nice photographer. I seen your clicks in this article & they are such lovely clicks that I seen on your blog.

    Keep it up… will see more great clicks here.. !!!

    • Reply
      Annapurna Mellor
      May 17, 2017 at 4:07 pm

      We agree! She’s amazing. So excited to see what she does next!

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