The Flavour of Holi is Back

Once again, today, we are back at celebrating Holi with flavour, after three long years, though with care and protection. The demon of Covid is on its last legs, and hence celebrations are on.

Holi is Hindu festival of colours, sweets, joy and love. It’s considered the second biggest festival after Diwali. It is celebrated to mark the end of winter and arrival of springs. It’s the celebration of the victory of good over evil. There are mythological stories of demon Hiranyakashyap and Prahlad, of Radha and Krishna and so on related to this festival.

The formal Holi starts with Holika Dahan, one day before the Holi. People gather around a bonfire for prayer and performance of rituals. I remember in Varanasi, huge bonfires used to be arranged in outskirts that would blaze away for weeks together. The next day, Dhulendi, colours are played.

But there is a complete transformation in the ways of celebrating Holi. Here I’m going to share the gradual transition. Now-a-days, people celebrate Holi on Whatsapp, Messenger etc sharing pics and messages to wish one another. This morning, I also devoted more than two hours doing it. Mobile, instead of the heart, is filled with colour, warmth and love.

Is it Holi? Certainly not. Contactless or online Holi is beyond my comprehension. It’s next to nothingness. When I was a school-going child, I used to plan so many things in advance and in anticipation. Holi would start for us at least one week before the actual Holi, and our mothers used to scold us for soiling our bodies and clothes well before Holi.

Playing water colours and dancing to the tunes of bollywood and folk songs with our friends, relatives and neighbours had their own attractions. Sometimes we would make the country’s tricolour or rainbow by sprinkling waters of three or seven colours. We used to spend time in the joys of togetherness, friendliness and affection, embracing each other.

The pleasure of getting wet and soaking others with different types of colours can’t be explained in words. One has to have that kind of spirit and outgoing nature. In fact it was an opportunity to get close to the beloved that was difficult otherwise. This much liberty was there, and we used to encash it without fail.

Side by side, we would devour delicacies like Gujhiya, Dahi Vada, thandai and above all Malpuye, that we even now prefer, but home-made. I remember how I used to look greedily at my mother preparing the same in the kichen.

We also used to abuse each other while playing Holi. Though it might not be in good taste, but then Tagore had stated that the first step to love was hatred. The final recipe was humour and love for each other. Latthmar (beating with a stick) and kurta fad (shirt-tearing) Holis are also examples of this love.

The climax used to be around noon, when it would become difficult to recognise our own faces, and more difficult for our family members. But thereafter, we used to take bath to remove the colours, that remained as a reminder for days to come.

During my whole childhood, I had never come across any case of allergy to colours, but now as an adult, it is very common, and sometimes an excuse to avoid Holi. Now a sophisticated way of celebrating Holi is to use flower petals instead of colours and Gulal.

In the evening, we used to wear new clothes, especially purchased for the occasion to celebrate dry Holi with Abir and Gulal. We smeared Gulal on cheeks and chins of friends and relatives after applying Tilak of Holi on their foreheads.

We used to place Gulal on the feet of our elders as a mark of respect and reverence and to seek their blessings. In return, we would get gifts from them. God was also worshipped by offering colours and flowers.

Holi was a festival of love, fun and frolic. Tepa sammelans (simpleton’s conferences) were arranged, where comic poets would recite sarcastic and amusing poems. We now watch it on the idiot box.

No doubt, Holi is still celebrated with colours and gulal, but in a restrictive manner. Even before the start of Holi, a number of cautions and advisories are issued. The spirit of Holi is missing. I miss those colourful Holi days, I grew up with. Drums and streets are silent. Joy and togetherness are missing.

Nature has changed it all. Time has its own effects. I sit in silence to ponder and seek the blessings of nature and the invisible forces for the well-being of one and all.

May the spirit of Holi leave you drenched with joy, love and happiness. Wish you all a very happy Holi πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŒˆπŸŒˆπŸ’“πŸ’—

–Kaushal Kishore

55 Comments

    1. It’s a coincidence that two important dates fell on the same day, but celebrations must go on. Thank you, Cindy and wish you all the best πŸ‘πŸ’πŸ’–

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading and sharing your beautiful reflections. In fact, we are fortunate that this year we could celebrate this colourful festival after three years due to considerable fall in cases of Covid and full vaccination. The next year may be better, I hope. Flower petals are the sophisticated way, but the real Holi is colour, either dry or wet. Your suggestion has been well received. Thanks!!

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      1. So welcome KK and thought I’d let you know that as I sat in front of Euronews only a few minutes ago, I saw a massive celebration of Holi with lots of pink powder material (forgive my basic description) being spilled over a very happy crowd and heard a rumble of drums and honestly felt delighted by sight and sound of all… you have both educated me and brightened my day… literally! Enjoy every minute of your celebrations. So wonderful to see joy and celebration instead of sadness and despair

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      2. I’m so glad that you took so much interest in this festival of colours. Pink powder is gulal or abir, which is applied on the face and body as a part of revelry. There are different ways to celebrate, the essence lies in the spirit, the spirit of brotherhood. Colours make all equal, no discrimination whatsoever. Let your life be filled with the colours of joy, love and laughter πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸ’–

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    1. This is a beautiful festival, Anne! Colours play a very important role in our lives and revelry. May your life also be filled with the colours of love, laughter and happiness πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰

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