As the yellow-brown leaves shed, the new green leaves emerge. It’s time for the winter to end. Here comes a splash of spring. It’s as if nature herself revels in the joy of Holi, the festival of colours, which marks its arrival in the month of Phalgun.
Holi: The Onset of Spring
An ancient spring festival celebrated in the Indian subcontinent, Holi marks the victory of good over evil. It’s a day meant for laughter, joy, and mending scarred relationships.
Observed on a full moon day, this is a 2-day festival. On the first day is celebrated the Chhoti Holi, also called Holika Dahan, when communities gather around the pious Agni to witness the destruction of the evil within.
On the next day is observed Dhulandi. People from across the world gather to witness this spectacular phenomenon when the earth sheds its browns and embraces the yellows, reds, pinks, greens, and blues.
Holi: The Traditional Way
Traditionally, the festival would be celebrated with large community gatherings where people would smear coloured powder on each other – vibrant hues made from flowers, Henna leaves, Neem, Haldi, and other substances of natural origin. They would then exchange delicacies and of course, sing and dance. In the evenings, people would head out to meet friends and relatives, sharing the joy of the festival.
With the passage of time, organic colours gave way to synthetic colours that were cheap and could be conveniently sourced from chemicals and dyes. Needless to say, they cause severe damage to the eyes and the skin.
Holi Now: Not so Holy
The festival is now rapidly losing its grandeur as the younger generation is shying away from colours, which are increasingly artificial and prefer to travel or rest on festivities. Holi is now losing its charm, as are the other ancient festivals.
Gone are the days when a Holi song would mark the arrival of the festival. The sound of the Chang and traditional folk songs has now given way to Bollywood numbers. Community celebrations lost themselves to individual, segregated gatherings.
Let’s Come Together This 2018 Holi
It’s now time to revive our ancient traditions and customs, bringing back the glory and togetherness that once characterised the festival. It’s the joint social responsibility of communities across the nation to bring back the fun and frolic.
We need an increased access to organic and natural colours over the market swamping synthetic chemicals. Nature’s nectar needs to be sought from Neem, Chrysanthemum, Turmeric, Palash, and Bilva. Once that’s done, we can all dance in the rain!
In this day and age, ancient festivals such as Holi are a great occasion to unite people, ushering in the re-establishment of active communities, where people celebrate and laugh together. Solitary lifestyles are the root cause of the growing anxieties and stress in our societies today, which are rapidly crumbling. It’s time we gather and celebrate our culture, which is the only chord that ties us all to a distant past so alive, vibrant, and colourful. It’s time for a holy Holi!