Holi – the spring festival

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Holi – the spring festival

Holi in old Delhi

Religion, bonfires and an abundance of colours —

Holi Festival could just be one of the world’s most beautiful celebrations. Faces , masked with color, and social rules  relaxed , it’s no surprise that numerous communities overseas  also jump on the multi-colored bandwagon and wish each other a ‘Happy Holi’ too.

Every year, the Holi Festival brings a rainbow of colours to the streets . The Holika bonfire is ignited the night before the Holi, bringing people gathered together for an evening of dance and song. The following day, the bonfire gives way for a free-for-all carnival of colour. Participants play, chasing each other with colored water and gulaal. The festival’s intention is to bring together strangers, uniting the rich and poor, men and women, children and elders — people who might not mingle otherwise.

Holi Festival is celebrated at the approach of the vernal equinox, which is on the Phalguna Purnima and typically at the end of February or beginning of March. The festival signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring and the end of winter, and an opportunity to meet others. People are brought together to play and laugh, forget and forgive, to repair ruptured relationships.

The Holi Festival is known for being the festival of colors, or the festival of love. As an ancient Hindu religious festival, Holi has also become popular with non-Hindus in South Asia, as well as communities outside of the continent.

Holi was enabled through the unwavering devotion to the Hindu god of preservation, Lord Vishnu. When reincarnated as the Lord Krishna, he was known for playing pranks on the village girls by drenching them in water and colors.

Holi in the old part of Delhi is distinctly exceptional with neighbors coming together and playing Holi .

Being a resident of Purani Dilli , Holi has always been a day full of singing , dancing , eating gujiyas , traditional papdi , kaanji prepared exclusively in kayastha community on the occasion of Holi and a lot of splotching gulaal  with a lot of water and celebrating the day with a lot of family members and neighbours just like family.

My mother and grandmother would start preparing for delicious dahi vadas , shaami kababs , pakodas and fried chips a day before and the entire family of around 30 people would come together to celebrate.

Contemporary days have witnessed quite a significant change in the celebrations shifting from traditional Holi singing , family gatherings at home to lavish Holi parties starting days before the festival leaving little essence for the special day.

The festival has become more commercial with the arrival of small vendors and the rapid production of chemical colorants and industrial dyes in most urban parts of India. Due to the commercial availability of attractive color pigments, natural colors have now been replaced with synthetic colors along with  fast music, fast food and influence of other cultures from around the world. Since, everyone loves the festival; the festival has now become a hot favorite among many communities who have popularized the festival according to their own customs and traditions.

Nevertheless, it remains to be one of the most colourful , vibrant festivals !

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About Shubhra Mathur

A Delhi University student balancing herself between the past - present, modern-traditional, a sixth generation progeny of a lifestyle which has continued its journey in the ways it had since long and introspecting how long it could live. A proud citizen living in history and geography of purani Dilli.

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