This appeared in The South Asian Times today.
Whether you have any new tricks up your sleeve this Holi festival or not, many do. The women prisoners of Tihar jail have made edible handmade colors that you can play Holi with. Edible - now that's revolutionary. You won't have to devour that someone who carelessly thrusts a bout of color in your mouth. Parachute hair oil is running ads with a special hair oil that won't damage your hair despite gulal. Our gals would be so relieved. The number one cause of depression amongst the fair sex post Holi day always seems to be damaged hair. And the Mayor of Mumbai has promised the residents extra water supply on the d-day. How we all need those endless showers and incessant scrubbing to wash it all off. Very thoughtful gift.
The colors of Holi, by its very definition, seems like an oxymoron to me. White, the purest and most colorless of all colors, being the unspoken dress code, is predominant on this day. I always wondered why people would want to ruin their whites. But what other color can take a multitude of color so well? What other color can make the other colors sparkle so much?
There is a variety of elements to Holi. Something for everyone. No wonder it's one of the most popular festivals. The elderly enjoy going in circles around the sacred fire and narrating its significance and stories to the young lot, the young ones love getting drenched in colored water and returning the favor to their counterparts, the youngest ones enjoy silly games like water balloons fights and related pranks and the festival even tends to bring out the worst from the violent and evil souls who get away with casually dragging unsuspecting strangers into it. But it’s all good. After all, what is Holi without a few street fights?
I have so many memories of Holi… some I think of fondly and some others, not so much. I still remember slapping a little gutsy boy who'd taken the liberty of drowning me in a tank filled with some yucky foul smelling color that stained my skin for days. How cool would it be if he still remembered? And we all know a neighbor’s kid who would invariably return bruised from all those water balloons that he would easily become a target of by random people. Of course seeing the uncles lose their sanity along with sips of bhang was entertaining to say the least and I’m being mighty polite. But my most favorite one was in the land of colors, Rajasthan. The glorious Krishna temple of Nathdwara was lit up beautifully, the bright neons that delightfully draped all the Rajasthani women and adorned the heads of local men added a lovely touch and heaps of colors brought out on silver trays were soon in the air making every face in the crowd indistinguishable. Folk music in the background was chocolate slivers on the cake.
Holi is a festival that unites like no other. Once the color is on, all bets are off unless you can tell one person’s smile from another. Whether you’re celebrating Holi at a temple or at a beach on foreign soil or on a crowded street in India, I hope it brings you immense bliss and joy. I’ve been letting the Holi Garba flyers just lay on the floor – but that’s an option. Perhaps I’ll just dab an extra dose of the blue shimmery eye shadow that I’m so in love with and give the colors a pass this year.