Holi March 07, 2016 00:09

Holi is around the corner! Most of us adults are reminded of its advent when the kids start pestering us with their demands of water guns aka pichkaris. At least for the last couple of years, that’s what prompts me to check the calendar, basically to buy some more time to fulfill such incessant demands. Across the country, rather the globe, Holi synonymises with colour; vibrant, rainbow colours (the indigo in this VIBGYOR being pucca colour that I’m particularly averse to). People quite literally turn into walking rainbows (with I insist, a tad too much bias towards Indigo). Those having played holi would agree that a small sprinkle of the holi indigo colour is enough to spoil the perfect symphony of the otherwise happier hues. And then there are mini rainbows aka kids J running hither and thither, rejoicing at the marvel of colours, water, unadulterated and (for a change gadget free) fun. These mini VIBGYORs though are mostly spared the marination in indigo, and they appear more like swaying, vivid blooms of the spring!

Weather wise, Holi marks the arrival of spring and bidding the official farewell to winters. Personally speaking, the procrastination queen in me doesn’t do away with the winter clothes in the cupboard till holi formally arrives! And I can talk of many such shill-shally Sallies here, for whom this otherwise joyous festival brings in a bit of “melanc-holi”, that of the tedious “spring cleaning”

Holi, interestingly, is split into “khelne wali” and otherwise. There are numerous legends and stories associated with celebration of Holi. The most popular ones are related to “Hollika Dahan” and the Radha Krishan tale. Integrally entwined with Holi, is the tradition of ‘Holika Dahan’, which is actually lighting of bonfires. The story centres around an arrogant king who wanted everyone in his kingdom to worship him. But his son Prahlad refused and worshipped Lord Vishnu instead. He attempts to kill his son but fails each time. Finally, the king’s sister Holika who is said to be immune to burning sits with the boy in a huge fire. However, the prince Prahlad emerges unscathed while his aunt burns to death. Holi commemorates this event from mythology, and huge bonfires are burnt on the eve of Holi as its symbolic representation. The legend of Radha and Krishna is closely linked with the tradition of colours on Holi. Young Krishna, who had a dark complexion was jealous of his beloved Radha’s extremely fair skin. In a mischievous mood, he applied colour on Radha’s face. Following this ancient legend, lovers till date long to colour their beloved as an expression of love. Revolving around these mythic tales, many families hold religious ceremonies, but for most it’s the “khelne wali” holi that is looked forward to, a time to indulge in crazy, whacky, unbridled fun.

The beauty of holi is the fact that it is celebrated “wholly”! Celebrated with various names, and by people of different states following different traditions, what is remarkably same across the country is the spirit of this festival. Fun, frolic, boisterousness to the extent of buffoonery marks this festival of colors. Be it the Bihar holi with it’s deadly combination of mud and the official holi beverage bhang, or the more sophisticated Bengali holi which is “dry” in every which way, sans the water and the intoxicating water drink, what makes holi truly unique and special is the revelry and frenzy, which remains the same across the country as well as the globe wherever it is celebrated.