Holi or the festival of colours, is celebrated with great enthusiasm in India, and by the Indian communities settled abroad. It is a time when the young and old alike, are in a mood to make merry. The most important aspect of this festival is its informal nature. Though a Hindu festival, it is played by Indians from all communities – especially in the metropolitan cities of India, where people from all over the country have come and settled. On the day of Holi, it is as if the clock stops running, for it is a national holiday. Even for the newspapers.
The festivities start early in the morning. People who prefer a gentler Holi greet each other by applying gulal or dry colours on each other. The adventurous ones splash coloured water, water balloons or simply turn the water pipes on!! Those who want to make others squirm use pukka or fast colours mixed in water – or even paint. But it is a fact that this festival is enjoyed the most if there is a large gathering echoing with laughter, gentle pranks and jokes.
You name the color and it is there. The more multicolored or horrible you are to look at, the better you feel. If only the eyes and teeth are visible, it is ideal. Water balloons are the biggest source of excitement for children, who can aim them at anyone. On the day of Holi there are few restrictions. For once, parents too don’t pester them by telling them not to throw balloons; many of them also join the fun.
The good thing about going from house to house and greeting neighbours and friends is that you get to eat special flour-based sweets like gujiya and malpua, and savouries like mattri. It does not matter that you don’t really know the person in whose house you are wolfing down so many things.
Come lunch time and it is time to turn homewards and hope that the authorities have supplied extra water so that one can take off all the colours. Still, Holi does leave its imprint on many a face for days to come.
This is the kind of Holi that most children and adults like to play. But there are many people who use the lack of restrictions and turn a friendly fight into a violent one. There are those who start aiming coloured balloons at people even a week before Holi, which leads to fights. The newspapers that come out two days after Holi, always have some violence or the other to report.
But then, the majority of children and adults do celebrate this festival in the way it is meant to be. So lets hope that the first Holi of the new millennium turns out to merry.
WISH YOU ALL A VERY HAPPY HOLI AND ENJOY YOURSELF.