Yubee - Lakpee ( Snatching the coconut )
Yubee Lakpee is a popular outdoor game in Manipur, played only by men. It is akin to rugby, and requires a great deal of vigorous body play and stamina. Yubee in Manipuri means coconut, and lakpee means snatching. This is a seven - a - side game and is played on a field that is 45.72 by 18.29m in area. The game starts when a coconut, duly anointed, is thrown into play, from one end of the field. The coconut is greased, and each player tries to catch it.
Each player exhibits his strength and agility, in both gathering the coconut and holding onto it. The game demands wrestling ability, speed, great reflexes and a sharp mind. Some scholars choose to view the game in a religious light, since it was played on the grounds of the Bijoy Govinda Temple on pichakari day, at the home of King Ananta Shayee, by persons acting as gods and demons. The game was celebrated annually on this day, re - enacting the scene from Hindu mythology involving the snatching of the pot of nectar, after the churning of the sea.
How the game is played
The number of players may vary, but usually the maximum number of players does not exceed 24. Each player performs as an individual. After oiling his body, each player wears the ningri or waist belt, similar to the one worn in the game of Mukna.
The coconut is placed at the centre of the field, and on a signal, the players race towards it. The referee begins the game with a loud call - ` s wa `, occasionally he begins it by throwing the coconut into play, in centre field. The coconut is held chest - high by the player in possession, and players are not allowed to kick it.
The team, the players of which succeed in carrying the coconut into the box area ( a rectangular space 4 1/2 by 3 m in area, inside the field, the central portion of the goal line forming one of its side ) and over the goal line, despite foiling attempts by the opponents, wins the game. Just beyond the goal line sits the judge ( in days of yore, the ningthou or king occupied this seat ), and it is to him that the players dedicate the coconut.
In order to score a goal, the player has to penetrate the box area from the front, not from the sides, and he must then cross the goal line, while carrying the coconut. In case, no player succeeds in reaching the king ( the judge ) with the coconut, all the players are lined up and made to run a race to decide the victor. When the game really reaches a boiling point as it were, and there are too many people pouncing on the coconut, the rising ardour is cooled by dousing the players with water !