Spring is almost here and it’s time for Holi, the festival of colors! 🙂 For those who’ve never heard of Holi, I’m sure at some point you must have seen striking, vibrant pictures of it.
Holi is an Indian festival that is celebrated with a lot of joy and marks the end of winter and start of the spring season. In many other cultures around the world, spring season is seen as a time for renewal of life and in that sense, Holi is no different. It symbolizes the welcoming of new life with blossoming flowers, new leaves and a good harvest. It’s a truly one of its kind festival and there is nothing like it anywhere else in the world.
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Interestingly, different parts of India celebrate Holi in their own unique manner but one thing that is common to the celebration of this festival is the feeling of love, joy, losing all distinctions and coming together as one.
Holi is definitely my favorite Indian festival and every year I really look forward to it with a lot of excitement and anticipation. When I was back at home in India, the preparations for the festival would start a week in advance with the purchase of gulal and abeer (colors), pichkari (water gun) and preparation of Holi special delicacies by Mom.
Holi is essentially celebrated for two days – Choti Holi (Holika Dahan) and Badi Holi (Rangwali Holi/Main day when you play with colors). So on the night of Choti Holi, friends and family used to get together and build a bonfire of sorts, offer prayers and greet each other with Holi wishes. This is the religious/mythological aspect of Holi.
The next day, which is the main Holi day is when all the fun happens. Everybody would dress up in white or light colored clothes, rub lots of coconut oil on their hair and body (to make sure all the color comes off easily), and get out of their houses armed with all the color and pichkaris(water guns) to play Holi with neighbors, friends and family. We would usually get together in our neighborhood club and there’d be music, lots of dancing, smearing of colors on each other’s faces (sometimes forceful), drenching people with colored water, and sometimes even throwing friends and cousins in the swimming pool filled with colored water. To someone who has never played Holi, all this might appear violent or scary, but it’s all done in a fun spirit. In that sense, there is even a phrase associated with playing Holi – “Bura na mano Holi hai” which translates to “Don’t mind, it’s Holi!” 😃
So the entire morning and afternoon was devoted to having fun, followed by lunch and then get back home tired, ready for another mission – getting rid of all that color in the bathroom. Honestly, it wasn’t that easy. There’d always be some color left here and there. But it was fun and that’s how I remember Holi from back home.
Of course, now that I’m in the US, the celebrations aren’t that elaborate but we do manage to get together with friends and play some Holi and have fun at one of the many celebrations organized by the Indian community in Dallas.
It’s Holi today, but since it’s a weekday, like all other Indian festivals, it will be celebrated over the weekend (It’s a holiday in India). I’m looking forward to the fun! 🙂
To everybody celebrating, here’s wishing you a Happy Holi! Play safe!
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