What is it?
Holi is the Festival of Colours. This is when people spray colours on each other, dance, party and eat festival delicacies. It is the time when everyone puts the gloom of winter behind them and celebrate the colours and life of Spring.
When is it?
It is the Hindu spring festival at the full moon (Phalgun Purnima) and is on Monday 13th March in 2017. The parties start on the weekend though with some on Saturday and Sunday.
How is it celebrated?
With a lot of coloured powder, water guns and a lot of fun!
It’s a party atmosphere and people party with friends and family. People who don’t normally drink will have one or two. People partake of ‘bhaang’ (made from cannabis leaves) – although I’ve not seen this myself so I’m guessing it’s kept away from expats. Non veg people have a great and eat mutton and chicken curry whilst the veg eat spicy ‘katahal’ jackfruit.
The night before is Holika Bonfire with religious rituals in front of the bonfire and pray that their internal evil is destroyed on the bonfire.
There is a water crisis here but that has not deterred a lot of Holi parties being planned – with water being the main advertising feature on online booking sites (rain dances and pool parties). The organisers use on site bore wells or private water tankers.
As there was no formal program arranged in our complex we just a got together on the street with the children – powders and water guns at the ready for a lot of fun. We had a lot of fun in front of the house then we went in search of others celebrating. We knocked on one of our neighbours door on the way and wished him a Happy Holi with a lot of colours too! He took it in good humour (thankfully!). We moved on in a group and when we encountered other groups we took full part in their celebrations with a lot of water and powders being liberally shared. It was such fun and a great community atmosphere.
The usual ingredients for Holi colours are as follows:
Orange and red – from flowers of the palash tree, lime and turmeric powder mixed and also saffron. Ours had Kumkum, tumeric and rice flour.
Green – mehendi and dried leaves of the gulmohur tree. Ours had tumeric, indigo and rice flour.
Yellow – tumeric (haldi) powder. Ours also had rice flour.
Blue – indigo plant, berries, blue hibiscus and jacaranda flowers. Ours was indigo and rice flour.
Magenta and purple – beetroot (that’s never going to wash out!). Ours also had indigo and rice flour.
Brown – dried tea leaves
Black – grapes and gooseberry (amla)
After enjoying the colours and water (a welcome relief to have a water gun fight in 34C), we headed for the shower and the clothes to the washing machine. The dye had gone through everything and has dyed my skin. Scrubbing hard has only faded the colours. I am going to be technicolour for some time. The pink, purple and yellow is particularly difficult to remove.
The clothes were white. After the second wash I have some clothes that look like they have been tie dyed and underwear in a many different colours. It’s a look…but maybe one I’ll leave for next year.
Happy Holi everyone!