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Home > Dicovery Mumbai > City LifeStyle > Holi - A Riot of Colors


  Holi - A Riot of Colours 

The other day, while walking down Linking Road in Bandra I was hit by a water balloon, which took me by surprise. Not having a day off in office made me all the more oblivious of the fact that holi was just a few days away. Holi is the time to have fun and fool around to your mind's content. Ever since a kid I have always enjoyed playing holi. It seemed so different from rest of the celebrations where I was expected to be behave properly. Even though I don't play holi anymore, the occasion has not lost its significance.

Brightening up your life Celebrated on the day after the full moon in early March every year, the occasion gets its name from the mythological character Holika, who was believed to be immune to fire. But she was eventually consumed by fire when she sat with her nephew Prahlada in the fire. Commemorating this event bonfires are organised all over the country on the eve of the occasion. However the most common association of holi is with that of Lord Krishna and Radha. The importance of holi in India is similar to the Halloween celebrations in the west. The very essence of holi is color which signifies the vitality of the human race. The occasion initiates the process of the earth getting rid of the dull and boring winter hues and taking on a colorful and happy look.

Gulal which is used to play holi are dry colors which were earlier made at home from the flowers of a tree called 'tesu' but the ones available today in the city are made mostly from chemicals some of which could be harmful. Long before the day of the holi people start selling gulal and shower guns. And as I was walking down the streets of Crawford Market my eyes were greeted by sights of heaps of various hues - green, red, magenta, blue. Abeer which has mica mixed with, it is also a favorite color, were neatly arranged in the makeshift stalls which were bustling with eager customers. There seemed to be a great demand especially among kids for colors which are mixed with coconut oil before applying it on people.

The most exciting part of holi is getting to play with colors or 'gulal', smearing people with every possible bright color available and giving them an unrecognizable look. The most familiar sight is that of people chasing each other or catching them off guard and pouring water or color on whoever possible. It is definitely the time to shed all inhibitions and people of Mumbai love doing it. In Mumbai holi is a festival which cuts across all ages, castes and creeds. "It is an wonderful opportunity to spread the word of universal peace and love" says Prasant Humpiali, a teacher," especially given the present scenario."

Making monkeys out of you Even though holi is predominately believed to be played in the northern part of India it ranks high in the list of celebrations in Mumbai. "But its flavor is essentially different" feels, Shiela Agarwal, who hails from Rajasthan "the holi scene in Mumbai was a shocking when I came here for the first time". She fondly recalls, her days in the village "where it was so much fun playing with colors. Here things were so different but then very soon I took to the celebrations here." On being asked if the holi scene in the city had changed she sadly says, "People misuse and misbehave during holi and none of the traditional practices are followed." Age old practices have given way to things much more western. Instead of having the ceremonial puja at home people prefer throwing parties and the young like to chilling out. No matter what, everyone enjoys having a glass of thandai with bhang

Despite the changing trends in the celebration of the occasion one thing remains the same - the atmosphere of total inhibition. ''The fun lies," says Meena Mathur, a student, "in the spirit of the festival." Even though people are subjected to various kinds of harassment in the name of holi, all is not lost. No matter who you are you always feel happy when you see those piles of color on display at the streetside stalls. I am definitely going to enjoy myself" How about you?

By: Sharmistha Chatterjee



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