Colours have always fascinated me, for their ability to make something look so beautiful. Holi on the other hand, may not make everyone or everything look beautiful with its colours, but it is definitely one exciting day filled with love, laughter, happiness and colours. While growing up I always enjoyed playing with colours – mostly water colours, crayons or sketch pens but on paper. I was so easily convinced that almost everything is edible, it became difficult for my parents to trust me around the gulal or powder colour that people use, to play Holi. But, don’t feel too bad for me, things changed when I turned 8, when I felt the joy of this auspicious festival.
The word Holi has been derived from the word ‘Holika’, the sister to the demon king Hiranyakashyap. The king wanted to teach his son, Prahlad, a lesson for being an ardent devotee of Lord Narayana, instead of the king himself. He asked Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap because she had a blessing whereby she cannot get burnt. Surprisingly, she was burnt to death and he came out alive by the grace of god, for his extreme devotion. And that is the history of how Holi came about, a celebration of good over evil.
Every year on the eve of Holi, people light up a bonfire in the honour of good over evil. The next day, people from all different cultural and religious background come together to play with gulal or powder colour, drink, dance, eat and make merry. This year’s calendar marked the 24th of March as the day for Holi. Celebrations began 4-5 days early like every other year with both kids and adults throwing water balloons or just water on passer-by’s, while shouting “bura na mano holi hai”, meaning “don’t mind, its holi”. Positive and maximized energy all around me weakened me to play a little too !
Apart from the festival of colours, India also celebrates the festival of lights – Diwali. Now, this is one festival that completely uplifts my spirits. The air and atmosphere during Diwali itself is so exciting, and it is even better with the smell of winter – my favourite season – approaching. As the description suggests, there is no place or house without decorations on this day. Every house is lit up with earthen diyas (oil lamps), candles and colourful lights. Brings me immense joy and happiness walking around on the brightly lit streets.
Legend says that, this day is celebrated in the honour of King Ram and his beautiful wife Sita returning home to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile and overpowering the demon king Ravana. The entire kingdom was lit up with rows of lamps, glistening in the dark night to welcome them home. Like Holi, this festival is also a celebration of good over evil.
Families and friends gather together to celebrate this day with fire crackers and exchange of gifts. My favourite part though, is bursting crackers, keeping in mind that it is very harmful to humans and more importantly, animals, if not played carefully and within limits. Markets are bustling with people bargaining for the best price in clothes and jewellery, both women and men dress up in traditional Indian attires. In some homes women wake up early and make Rangolis with different coloured powders. Well every town, city, or village have their own traditional way of celebrating this day. This year it is the 30th of October when the entire nation is going to be lit up!