Holi is around the corner and we are very excited! For my friends who don’t know about it, here is some quick info for you.
What is Holi?
Holi is a festival of colours celebrated in India. It is celebrated to mark the triumph of “good” over “evil”. Although mostly the celebrations are similar the rituals might differ from region to region. People smear each other with coloured powders popularly known as gulaal or abir.
How I Celebrated Holi : The Doul Mahotsav of Dihing Satra
I originally come from a small town called Dihing Satra located on the northern banks of the river Brahmaputra in Assam in India. Holi is associated there with the Hindu god Krishna. The festival is known as Doul Mahotsav. It is celebrated for 3 long days and nights.
It has been long since I moved from this town to the city but I still remember the festival the way it used to be celebrated then. Whenever I can, I still manage to catch a few moments of it today. But some things remain so deeply etched in your memories, you cannot dissociate them from a particular time frame, isn’t it? So I am sharing with you my experience of Holi as a child.
People from our town gathered in a temple which is located right in front of my grandparent’s place. The idol of Krishna was taken out of the sanctum sanctorum and placed under a canopy for 2 nights. People sang folk and religious songs all through the night. On the second day, which is the greatest celebration day (Mahapuja), everyone gathered in the temple during the afternoon. Certain rituals, mostly patriarchal, however, were followed. The women and the men sat separately and they even sang different kinds of songs.
What I Always Found Interesting During This Festival?
- The all-women group sitting together experienced some kind of an alternative space where they expressed their joys, laughter, and intimacy without the fear of prying patriarchal eyes. They shared some kind of sisterhood in that space and point in time.
- The folk songs the men sang were from a different plane altogether. They were so good they could be in a popular rock band of their own! Sadly, these folk songs are not documented anywhere and may face the danger of being lost forever.
- The procession of the Krishna idol was a huge affair. Hundreds of people would walk barefoot, playing with the coloured powders, singing songs and march from the temple to the nearby areas and return after about 3-4 hours in the evening. I always used to stay back with a few of those who would be there to draw coloured patterns on the ground (Rangolis) to greet the group when they return.
- The temple served everyone with cool drinks made of tamarind and jaggery after the group returned with the idol. This marked the end of the festivities.
I have skipped a lot of details here. And the festival is still celebrated with these rituals only. But I have shared with you what I remember, how I remember Holi.
For me Holi is the fun we had as children, the laughter of those women who were otherwise dominated in their families by their men, the sounds of the drums and the cymbals to which the men sang great numbers, the tamarind drink which I will never get to buy in shops, the coloured patterns which we drew with utmost precision and enthusiasm!
Be Ready for This Holi:
- This Holi, have some wonderful time with your families and enjoy your culture if you can.
- Don’t forget to use non-toxic organic colours to smear on your loved one’s faces.
- Oil your hair before you head out to play Holi. This way you won’t spoil your hair.
- Wear breathable cotton clothes.
- Drink lots of water to stay hydrated under the sun.
- When under the sun, use a sunscreen to prevent tanning.
May you have a wonderful Holi this year! Stay happy and hydrated.
For my friends who know about and plays Holi, let us know your Holi plans this year. Share with us about your ways of celebrating it.
For my friends not belonging to India or Indian culture, let us know if you have ever heard of Holi? Do you have any similar festivities in your culture? If you have, please share with us in the comment section below. It will be great to know about them.