Happy Holi!

        

      Colors are the smiles of nature. 

– Leigh Hunt

                And nature surely smiles the broadest during spring! 🙂 Of all the festivals in India, Holi is perhaps the one that elicits the most mixed emotions. There are people who just looooove it and miss it a lot when away from the Indian soils. Then there are those who would rather hide themselves in a closet away from the rest of the world on this particular day. I consider myself somewhere in between, but definitely leaning towards the former.

                When I was a kid (this is sometime in the 80s), the day would start early with preparation of colors i.e. mixing up of colors with water in buckets and filling up of pichkaris (spray guns) and water-baloons. We would roam around in the neighbourhood collecting friends for ‘playing Holi with’ as well as tasting various sweet and savoury items prepared meticulously beforehand by the aunties in the colony. Between the drill of preparing colors in different proportions to get the desired combination(s),  the thrill of drenching your close friend in bucketful of color and the sheer joy of tasting delicacies like gujiya, gulab jamun, malpua, dahi bade, nimki, thandai – what is your favourite Holi moment? Difficult to say, right? So come spring time…and my husband and I would get nostalgic recollecting to each other the different times we played Holi back in India.

                So naturally, as soon as we came to know of the Holi mela in Iskcon DC this year, we decided to go there. The temperatures luckily were in 50s that day. And weren’t we glad that we attended it!? The atmosphere was magical!

                We started with a visit to the temple. The deities were clothed specially for the occasion in pristine white, but the garlands were multi-colored; and in the background were the many colors of life; even the offerings were of different colors. The overall effects were dramatic! (Click on the pics to see an enlarged view).

Radha Krishna at Iskcon DC

Radha Krishna at Iskcon DC

                Next we ventured into the actual festival area. Being in the US where privacy and freedom are valued a lot, I was pleasantly surprised to experience what I term a perfect Indo-American style of Holi. Total strangers approached us gleefully and put gulaal on us…after asking our permission, of course 🙂 Initially I was a bit apprehensive. After all, any woman who has grown up in India, knows to be wary of and cautious about drunken revelry especially on occasions such as Holi. But after some time, I too let my hair down and started soaking in the atmosphere fully. There was pinata for kids; several stalls for the grown-ups. There were huge queues for the food – one could buy vegetarian thalis, snacks, baked items at reasonable prices.   

           pinata

                Especially interesting were the reactions of the kids, some of whom were being introduced for the first time to this grand festival. I  spotted a few that were bawling; my own son was kind of overwhelmed at first. Which 5-year old wouldn’t at the scenes of seemingly crazy people dressed their worst and smeared in all kinds of funky colors from head to toe? (There were some young men even with torn clothes amongst the crowd.) However, soon he got the hang of things and started approaching other kids with a fist full of color and a silly grin on his face. 🙂 There were dances to the music of Radha-Krishna bhajans.

dance

                What was my favourite 2013 Holi moment? Undoubtedly, the one where there was a countdown from 10-9-8-…and at 0, the airs got strewn in a myriad of hues – from pink to purple to green to red and orange. It was beautiful!

dance

                There was Holika-dahan at the end.

Holika

                Finally, we headed back home humming to the highly addictive tunes of Shri Radhe Radhe and with promises of returning next year with loads of friends and colors.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ambaa
    Apr 04, 2013 @ 11:34:34

    I must have missed you! I think we left around 1:00 pm or so. We were there really early 🙂

    Reply

  2. Ramesh
    Apr 07, 2013 @ 02:43:18

    Hi Sanjivita – Well written. Brought a lot of memories back. Nice to see such a huge gathering for Holi. Not so common in the western part of the world I guess. At least in Swiss, there isn’t much.
    Regards,
    Ramesh

    Reply

    • indianinus
      Apr 27, 2013 @ 16:06:20

      That’s right. In the US too, only some parts have these kind of Indian festivals. Although I must say that the turnouts are increasing over the years in these festivals even as the number of Indians/Indian Americans is increasing with time.

      Reply

  3. Raman Reti
    Aug 21, 2015 @ 01:28:07

    Hi! Is there any chance you could email me a picture of the deities (dressed for Holi) from your blog that I could use to create a poster? The resolution from the picture online is too small to use, but it is such a cute deity picture, and I would love to make even a small poster of it. I am volunteering at a children’s tent at a Holi/Colour festival, and I would love to put up a deity picture like this there for an art project. Thank you!

    Reply

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