Happy Holi! - A peak at the Joyful Indian Festival Celebrating Spring

It has been a while- I have been underground because I have been inundated with work which in all honesty I truly enjoy, but now have surfaced to touch base with you all to share more of my rich culture. I will be writing more as and when I get the time so don't give up on me yet. In the interim, read on...


A picture of my adorable niece who has also joined in the wild abandon of this festival.

Like Mardi Gras and Easter, Holi is a major festival in India welcoming the advent of spring. Normally, it is celebrated on a full moon day in the month of March or April depending on where it falls in the Hindu calendar.

It is a boisterous festival celebrated by everyone with great gusto with singing and dancing. Evryone regardless of age, class, caste or gender joins in to play with dry and wet colors - certainly no social inequity here. Beautiful colors are used and folks join in the fun with total abandonment uncaring of their attire or appearance.

There are many legends associated with this festival -chief of them being about India's God Krishna and his frolicking with the love of his life, Radha. Needless to say, this is also considered a time when men and women give up their conventional coyness-rather public flirting and coquetry is often on public display in the rather conservative Indian social setup.

I could write a lot about it - about how I didn't much care for this festival as I hate cold water especially when I was dunked unceremoniously by my older brothers and their hateful friends who took it as an opportunity to payback the bratty kid sister who squealed on them all the time and on and on... Regardless those were wonderful days when my parents would not allow any of us to enter the house till we had hosed ourselves outside in the garden before entering the house.

Instead to give you a flavor, I will just share a clip showing you celebration of Holi in India depicted Bollywood style - despite the song and dance, it is pretty accurate. Enjoy!



Can you imagine this festival is even popular here in US among the young people as you can see from the video clip which shows celebrations in a Hindu temple in Utah!


Of course it is a national Holiday in India. Here are also some amazing pictures right from India which show the recent celebration on March 11.

When you have had your fill of color, do move on to Candid Carrie's Phriday Fiesta and see what is going on there...

Happy Holi and Namaste for now!

Comments

Jennifer said…
Cute pics! That sounds like a very interesting festival!!
I guess your never too old to learn. Very interesting!
Thanks for sharing
~~tonya~~ said…
Very interesting!! I love reading your blog and about your customs. TFS
skoots1mom said…
does all that powder bother your lungs and make you cough? Love the dancing!
Teri said…
That looks like a lot of fun. So, it is as a wacky as Mardi Gras here?
RBK's Realm said…
Teri,

You nailed it! You can think of it as Mardi Gras in India. There is a drinking and merry-making with food and bonfires etc also involved. It would be too much to explain but it is incredible fun...

I hope you had a chance to view the video clip of the Americans celebrating this festival in Utah and loving it!
RBK's Realm said…
skoots1mom - you have raised an excellent point which is also being addressed in India.

Health conscious folks keep away from synthetic colors which can have toxic chemicals and try to stick to herbal and natural color powders.

Additionally folks are advised to take other skin protection measures.. I have been away from home too long to know what exactly is being done but I do know that it wasn't exactly the favorite festival in my family because of the tendency to escalate into hooliganism...

I hope I am making sense?
Monisha said…
Holi is a riotous festival of colour widely celebrated in north India to usher in the spring season.

Legend goes that the evil king Hiranyakashyap wanted to destroy his own young son Prahlad, who worshipped Lord Vishnu and not his father. When all other schemes to kill the boy failed, Hiranyakashyap asked his sister Holika to burn him to death. Holika had been granted a boon by the gods, which enabled her to sit in a bonfire without getting hurt. However, when she tried to kill Prahlad, Lord Vishnu rescued his devotee (bhakt) and Holika was burnt to death. This is why on the evening before Holi, a huge bonfire is lit, accompanied by lots of celebrations - victory of good over evil. Since the festival ushers in the spring season, which is of course a riot of colours, there is a lot of merrymaking with powder or wet colours.

In the olden days, Holi was played with natural dyes and powders made from dried flowers, plus the environmantal complications of today did not exist, so people generally had a great time (playing/ flirting/ etc) without a care in the world.

Back home in Delhi, my family and I would practically go Holi hopping - playing with one set of relatives and then moving on to another set. There are special traditional Holi songs, which my husband's whole family sings every year. They are really beautiful and typically wax eloquent about the beauty of spring and/ or the divine love of Radha and Krishna. There are also special snacks and sweetmeats which are prepared only during Holi. Although these are now easily available in the market, my mother-in-law always makes some at home and believe you me they are the most delicious in the world (yum yum !!) O how I miss playing Holi with the family - it used to be completely crazy and sooo much fun !!

Well, Holi in Dubai is also super fantastic fun! Since there is a sizable population of Indians here, it is pretty well organised at various locations - parks or beaches - you could buy a ticket or a family pass and go and have a blast. Usually, colours, pichkaris (water guns) and lots of yummy food is available at the venue.

My family and I had a rollicking time playing Holi with a whole lot of our friends in our backyard. The kids went completely beserk bombarding us with water balloons (ouch! those really hurt) and dunking us with bucketfuls of water. We treated ourselves to sumptuous biryani and rounded off the day with a round of kabaddi and lots of hysterical laughter !!

Can't wait for Holi next year ;)
Gwen H. said…
I love the colors! Reminds me of Songkran, the Thai new year, where pouring a small amount of water as a ritual sign of respect evolved into a jubilant water free for all.
Sandi McBride said…
That you celebrate a Festival of Colors does not surprise me in the least...it's what I think of, the beautiful colors of your culture when I think of India...loved the clips!
Sandi
Malini said…
Hey raksha remember my first year in Modern School. With the intention of protecting us from the hooliganism of the boisterous modern school scamps you were cautioning Usha and me about the water balloons and WHAM ther it was straight head on , clean bowled leaving you drenched as we saw some blue shirts scurrying past shouting oye Bhandari!!!leaving Usha and me gaping as we stood in silence(concealed laughter) commiserating at your plight.Yes Those were the days my friends and I never fail to narrate this incident to my other friends. Happy Holi
careysue said…
So happy you're back!! Me too! Although I haven't posted yet I will.

Happy Holi!!
RBK's Realm said…
Yes Malini, I remember that incident very well because you have never let me forget it and here I was trying to protect you as the one year senior teacher. LOL
Sandi McBride said…
It's so important that family traditions remain strong...thank you for sharing your traditions with us...they're always interesting and colorful!
Sandi
cyclingred said…
And who'd a thunk it even in Utah!

I just love the gusto of the Indian culture.
Ronda's Rants said…
I love it...it looks beautiful!