What’s unique about Holi is the riot of rich colours which when combined with high spirits rejuvenates life on earth. Holi Festival is a celebration of life, love, happiness and good spirits!
Holi, the most colourful of Hindu festivals, falls on the full moon day in the Hindu month of phagun, which is the month of March as per the Gregorian calendar. LathmaarHoli, DulandiHoli, Rangpanchami, HolaMohalla and Shimgo are some of the names Holi is known as. The customs and traditions are more or less the same with miniscule changes in different regions. It is one of the most famous and widely celebrated festivals in India. As it is with every Hindu festival, Holi is associated with a lot of traditional sweets and savories.
Not to forget, some of my most fond childhood memories are associated with Holi. As the cold winter months would fade, marking the arrival of spring, me and my friends would eagerly wait to start our Holi celebrations! We would go to the market in large groups where there would be an entire stream of shops displaying all the things we need to celebrate a grand Holi! Mounds of powdered colours, pichkaris of every imaginable shape and size, gulal, water balloons, food items – you name it! Getting drenched in water and colour and going back home exhausted only to be welcomed home with the smell of hot crisp gujiyas and other treats my mother would prepare for Holi. Sigh! Those were the good old days.
Holi is a time to forgive and forget all woes of the past and begin new friendships. People throw water balloons and gulal on passersby’s and follow it up by saying “bura na mano holi hai!” It works as a way to get away with almost anything on this day. People indulge in singing and dancing on special Holi songs, spraying coloured water with pichkaris, enacting plays based on Holi legends, etc. Large common Holi celebrations are organized, where rain dance is a common attraction. Holi is one of the most interactive and social festival I know of. People get together and celebrate in union, irrespective of the caste, creed, age, gender or status. Eco friendly Holi is a concept which we must welcome. Use of limited amounts of water and herbal colours to play is good not only for the environment, but also for our personal health. We could also celebrate Holi with tomatoes, like they do at the Tomatina Festival in Spain!
Holi calls for a lot of activity and activity activates hunger pangs! If one travels across India, one could probably have a taste of various regional sweets. The one binding factor across the states is the beverage called thandai that is specially prepared on the occasion of Holi. Thandai can be in two versions: one that has bhaang (cannabis) and the other tamer version for kids and for those who do not want to get inebriated!
The buds and leaves of cannabis are squashed and ground into a green paste in a mortar with a pestle. Milk, nuts and spices are then added. Some prefer to add the leaves to fried savoury dumplings called pakoras and as the unsuspecting guests consume them the intoxicating effect of the bhaang becomes evident. While bhaang has never been a part of my personal Holi celebrations, there is another drink known as – kanji! My mother used to make the traditional gajar ki kanji, by soaking pieces of carrots (preferably black carrots) in a mixture of water and spices for a couple of days. Back then I used to avoid drinking this as much as possible but now I absolutely love it! I will surely be making it this time and so should you as it is a healthy and nutritious addition to any Holi menu!
At the more organized Holi parties, food orders are outsourced to catering companies. However, the real deal lies in making the treats yourself!
While it is very important for us to celebrate our rich heritage, it is also extremely essential to conserve and not pollute existing resources around us. Keeping this in mind we can easily cut back on some of the more extravagant ways of celebrating this festival by using eco friendly herbal colours, ensuring minimal water wastage, avoiding dangerous rubber balloons, maintaining hygiene and ensuring that everyone around us is having a safe Holi. Remember, Holi is a festival of colours, joy and celebration! The real way to celebrate is to spread the universal message of love to one and all. Let the spirit and colours of Holi make a big splash in your life in the most positive way ever.
Here’s wishing one and all a very happy and a colourful Holi!