When I was growing up, I was not very fond of Holi, the festival of colors. I found it too messy and being the one who would always stand still and let others apply color, I used to think what the point is? The colors, the chemicals, the enormous efforts involved in scrubbing the body to let go of colors seemed too much of a task and I was never excited about it.
My memories of Holi are not about the colors but all about festivities and food. They go back to the day when I used to help Mum make papads(using this machine she had), filling gujhiyas and doing the edges with hand, binging on various kinds of savories and of course the sumptuous lunch that was prepared on the day of Holi – dahi wade, meat, pooris, pulao and what not. Everything was set on the dining table and in every walk around that table intentional or unintentional, I would pass by munching something or the other.
I hardly had a gang when I was growing up so most of the times, I was not even exposed to a lot of colors. I would just prepare myself with lots of cream and lotions so that when I scrub the colors they come off easily and it worked with the minimal colors that were thrust on me. Holi remained a big enough deal when I was in NCR for 4 long years after my schooling. I used to get my tickets done and take a train home for good food and festive times. But things changed and I moved to Bangalore some ten years back. Since then, I haven’t been home for Holi or got to taste the yum food my Mum prepares till this day. Holi is not a big festival in South of India and hence we don’t even get an off. The day is just another one and during the day when most of the action happens up above in the North, you hear keyboards and the usual office chatters. At work, I tell folks about how we celebrate, what we eat and how in the evening people go meet each other to wish Holi.
My Mum tells me that now all sweets and savories are available at the market and people can choose to buy instead of preparing at home. Papads are available to buy, and the colors are laden with chemicals. Not just that, even the weather has changed. What used to be a slightly cold one around ten years back is now cooler. Things that haven’t changed are pranks that kids play, throwing balloons filled with colored water on others, using a pichkari on elders and running before they could turn back and figure out where did the color come from, the way women carry dry colors when they go visit to wish Holi, the hugs and the sweets and savories brought from the same famous sweet shop in the city.
Holi is not just about colors and food. Like every Indian festival there is a story behind and the message is that the disrespectful and arrogant learns a lesson in the end. Holi is about the victory of good over evil and Holi is about hope for a new year. Now that I haven’t been able to be home over Holi for so many years, I celebrate Holi by making gujhiyas and dining on some high calorie vegetarian food. It’s allowed for a change. Every Holi I also wish that the change in weather brings a change in me,my loved ones and the world around for good.
Happy Holi to all the readers of this blog. For those who wish to know more about Holi, you could read here 🙂