First I will tell you the story behind the message and then we will take a look at celebration itself. Once upon a time young Krishna asked his mother that why Radha, his girlfriend, was so fair and he was so dark. Yashoda, his mother advised him to cover her in color and then see. Of course Radha sprinkled the color back on him and that cascaded into everybody spraying colors and water on each other. Lord Krishna made this as a part of the traditional harvesting festivities to signify love and unity. India is a conservative place with a palpable class and gender distinction. Holi defies all these social and cultural restrictions and bridges the gap between man and woman and between all the layers of social strata.
Holi is a two day festival. It begins on the first full moon day of spring. The first day is a traditional celebration of new harvest. The bonfire is ceremoniously kindled in the moonlight and people walk around fire singing songs. The fire signifies the cleansing of dirt and filth.
The second day celebration is the reason Holi is known as a festival of colors. The day starts with power pack breakfast of dates and milk. Then people don their most worn out clothes as they won't be able to wear them ever again. Then they arm themselves with colors and water guns. The celebration begins with the family and is mild enough, just a smudge of color here and there. No water yet. As the day gets brighter the braver family members go out and form a group. First they sprinkle color on each other and then water gun fight begins, when everybody is thoroughly soaked in water the group ends the fight. The groups prowl through streets to find a new groups to have water gun fights. As the day gets warmer and warmer celebration gets wilder and wilder with water. The kids throw water filled balloons on unsuspecting passers bys If you resist the result could be as dire as being hosed down them with the a garden hose or even being dunked into pools.
As the Sun reaches to the pinnacle people drenched in colors and water gather up in open space where a pot of buttermilk is hung 20 feet high in the air, goal is to break the pot without stones or sticks. This sight is something to behold. Sea of kaleidoscopic faces forming a human pyramid and trying to break the terracotta pot. It's a pure euphoria.
Speaking of euphoria, what would be the most appropriate subject other then? any guesses? Yes! “funny brownies” Frivolous fun is so much woven with the Holi that it's the only time when it is socially acceptable to use drugs for recreation, even in the dry state of Gujurat! Cannabis Pakora, that is deep fried fritters and cannabis thandai that is almond and milk drink are consumed throughout the day.
You know how you would crave oily, fatty food after big downfall, Holi food is prepared with that in mind. It ranges from tongue tickling mint chat, to savory yogurt fritters to cold, creamy thnadai to mouthwatering curries and flat breads. The day ends with total exhaustion and food coma.
In the closing I would say Holi is my favorite festival for three reasons. The first is obviously kaleidoscopic colors and splash of water in scorching heat. Ahh good times! The second is the shear variety of sweet, spicy savory food. The last one is, how altruistic message of love and unity is blended into seemingly a rowdy show of indulgence.