Hope you are in the pink of health! I will not be wrong in saying that for most of us, life is now pretty much back to normal. The dark and grey clouds of the scary virus have drifted away, giving way to rosy pink skies of faith and fervor. Talking about colors reminds me of the upcoming festival Holi…. yes, the festival of colors! Holi welcomes the spring season with open arms and hands full of vivacious beauty of colors!
While its roots are religious, tied to many Hindu legends, it is also seen as a celebration to rejoice a good harvest. The classic legend of Prahlad, the evergreen mythos of Krishna and Radha, and the epic saga of God of love, Kamdev and his wife Rati, hold symbolic significance in the rituals of Holi.
Come to think deeply, Holi reminds us of the vibrant and colorful life which the Almighty has bestowed upon us. The mesmerizing colors of Holi denote the various moods, emotions, situations…...in short, the various facets of life. I feel, the vibrancy of the Holi colors brings in a lot of optimism and positivity in our lives, especially after the dull, harsh winter months. Holi is a celebration of love, togetherness and cheer! And what makes it so unique and special is the spirit which is, same across the globe, wherever it is celebrated.
The celebration of Holi is a two-day affair which starts on the eve of Purnima of the Falgun month. People light up bonfires signifying the victory of good over evil. This lighting up, known as Holika Dahan, is to render gratitude to Agni, the God of Fire. Gram, husk and stalks from the harvest are also offered to Agni with all humility. Ash left from this bonfire is considered sacred as it is believed to protect us from evil forces.
The following morning is called Dhuleti in the north and Rang Panchami in the west. It is a day filled with fun and frolic, when people paint the town red and get into the festive spirit by smearing dry and wet colors on each other. Almost everyone is seen running around with the Holi memorabilia, chasing each other with color filled pichkaris (water guns), water balloons and heaps and packs of gulal and other natural colors. The mood and ambience are truly exuberant and jubilant! And to add to this exuberance, happy souls revel over glasses of thandai, which is a cool Indian drink laced with bhang (flower tops and leaves of cannabis) and dance to the tunes of traditional folk and Bollywood songs.
We all know, for Indians, festival is synonymous to food. Holi calls for some delicious sweets and snacks. In the north, mawa filled gujiyas, mathris and kanji-vadas are must-have delicacies. The yummy dhuskas along with the mouth-watering maalpuas from the eastern states make their special appearances on this festival. The puranpolis and dal vadas from the west are an integral part of the festive menu. The traditional kesari, fried boorelu and Mysore Pak of south compliment the festivities.
Just like the varied food menus, the style of playing Holi also differs in some states. The Royal Holi in Rajasthan is grand and is organized by the royal Mewar Family of Udaipur. Holla Mohalla is celebrated in Punjab, a day after the scheduled Holi to commemorate the victory of Sikh warriors. The celebration involves displays of traditional martial arts, music and dances. It is filled with thrill and zest and I am sure it would be worth watching! The Lath Mar Holi of Uttar Pradesh is one of the most talked about and, sure well, sounds a bit scary. And no points for guessing why …. here women are armed with Lathis and they hit the men playfully while the men shield themselves with a shield called dhal, enjoying the festive ritual. The uniquely beautiful Phoolon ki Holi in Vrindavan is usually devoted to Lord Krishna where people ditch colours and water to play Holi with flowers. The heavenly Holi celebrated at Banke Bihari and Dwarkadheesh temples of Mathura give you the ultimate feel of this colorful festival, where, the roads outside the temple are jammed with people, laughing, celebrating, and splashing colors on each other. Inside the temple premises, women enjoy the colorful traditional Holi in full swing.
So, wherever you reside, have the vibrant spirit of Holi alive in your hearts, the taste and relish of the yummy delicacies in your gob and step out with your family and friends for a delightfully memorable time! And, don’t hesitate to shake a leg or two to the Bollywood tunes or the beats of dhol…. spread cheer and merriment by showering the spirit of vivid colors among one and all. Remember, the joy of Holi is endless.
Be safe and be boisterous, After all its…. “Bura na mano, Holi hai”.
Signing off……Vandana Oke.