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Holi – The Colours of Spring

Holi – The Colours of Spring

Quick, think of spring and what comes to mind? The festival of Holi, of course!! Think of Holi and what springs to mind? ‘Gulal’ or dry colours in bright shades, ‘pichkaris’ or water pistols, and buckets of water to drench people, right? For, winter has finally come to an end, and the friendly mischief of spring is in the air. And so, on the day of Holi, huge armies of children and adults come out on the streets....

The Song of Hori or Happiness

The Song of Hori or Happiness

Braj mein hori khelat Nandlal. Kesar rang ki keech bhai hai, Chahun or udat gulal, Nachat gopal. Braj mein hori khelat Nandlal. Baajat jhanjhar, dhol, majari aur khartal, Braj ki nari sangh hori khelat, Nachat dede taal, sakhi. Braj mein hori khelat Nandlal. (This song sung by women describes Nandlal, as young Krishna is called, playing hori with the women of Brajbhoomi – the area comprising Mathura, Vrindavan, Gokul and Barsana that are associated with Krishna and Radha....

Where Holi is the Talk of the Town

Where Holi is the Talk of the Town

Think of Holi and you think of two places in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh where the festival has a special status. First, the area known as Brajbhoomi comprising Mathura, Vrindavan, Govardhan, Gokul (all connected to Lord Krishna’s birth, childhood and early youth) and Barsana (Radha’s village). Here Holi is a robust enactment of the legends of Radha and Krishna. Then there is the Holi of Banaras. The way it is celebrated is the talk of the town and the famous kavi sammelan or poets’ gathering at Banaras is one reason for this....

Janamashtmi – The Day Krishna was Born

Janamashtmi – The Day Krishna was Born

Janamashtmi, or the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna — the seventh avatar of Lord Vishnu — is celebrated with traditional gaiety and fervour all over India. It falls on the eighth day of the waning moon in the month of Shravan in August/ September. Lord Krishna is believed to have been born at midnight on this day. The day is marked by fasting, feasting, dancing and singing hymns and prayers. Lord Vishnu is invoked in his human incarnation as Krishna on his birth anniversary....

Holi is For Children

Holi is For Children

Kamla Mathur was born and brought up in Etah, a small town in Uttar Pradesh. Now, at 65, she lives in Delhi and reminisces fondly of the Holi she and her siblings celebrated at ‘home’, in the area called Brajbhoomi, the land where the Braj dialect of Hindi is spoken. Brajbhoomi refers to the places connected to the legends of the birth and childhood of Krishna and his dalliance with Radha. As Holi continues to be a significant festival for the Brajvasis, many of the old ways of celebration survive....

The Peacocks are Dying

The Peacocks are Dying

May 11: The residents of the Rajasthan State Electricity Board colony in Heerapur, 12 km from Jaipur, are in shock. They don’t know how to reconcile to the sudden, unexplained deaths of 19 peacocks in their colony in the first week of May. The priest at the Radha Krishna temple in the colony is inconsolable: there are no more peacocks to peck at the vessel filled with jowar. In the first week of May, at Sirsiya village in Phagi district, a villager saw six of the birds die, foaming at their mouth as they tried to dance....

The Gift of Wonder

The Gift of Wonder

Eleven years ago, under the sequinned sky on a warm summer day, on the roof of his palatial home in the town of Vrindaban, my grandfather introduced me to wonder. As I lay on a mattress surrounded members of the family, my grandfather or “Nana” as I used to call him, asked me to look at the sky and try to spot the patterns and the constellations. “What does that look like?” he would ask, pointing to the Little Bear....

Dress Relief

Dress Relief

The doorbell rang. ‘Now darling remember all that I have told you,’ said Ma for the umpteenth time as she nervously opened the door. There stood Grandma in her white saree, as upright as ever with the perpetual stern look on her face. ‘Jeetiraho’ boomed her voice as Ma touched her feet. I followed her example and then helped Papa who was struggling with the suitcases, tins and sacks. Grandma always carried her kitchen with her, no mixer or microwave or for that matter even a gas stove would do for her....

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Dear Vishrut and Anushrut, I forget the name of a short story by W.Somerset Maugham that I read long ago-perhaps you will read it some day. But I still remember the story and in particular one sentence from it. This is spoken by a chap, brought up strictly to tell right from wrong, who has to go out to the colonies as the British called the countries they ruled in Asia and Africa. Well, he has been told not to mix with an uncle there who has become “bad”....

The Bright Ones

The Bright Ones

September 9: Five-year-old Krishna and four-year-old Rama are two very bright brothers. They are too young to join school but they know by heart all the textbooks of the primary school. The little geniuses, however, are not Indian! Their names are the only thing Indian about these kids. For they are Russians in every other way. The two boys, sons of Ariy Radogar, were allowed to take the test for primary school admissions after their father insisted that they could clear them....

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