The very morning, a scent conquered upon my feelings and my nose forced me to break through my dream. The scent of the sorghum popcorn popularly known as 'dhani' stimulated my reflexes and forced me to step out of my bed and reach to the source of the smell. Being in still a kind of trance state, and knowing nothing of the world around, I stepped into the kitchen and picked up a fist full of dhani mumra and date, i.e., khajoor. But before I could partially chew or swallow the delicious combo, a dandling tone struck my ear drum, that helped me gain my senses. And abruptly, did my retina sense the presence of my dear mom who had a barragement of anger and love on her visage. This at once made me realized that I hadn't brushed yet. I placed the combo back onto the dish, and had a nice brushing of teeth session.
After having soothed up myself, I comprehended the reason for the early hour preparation. The next week was to be baptized as "The Week of Colors". The most awaited and thrilling festival was to spread exuberance in the corners of each ones hearts. The Festival of Colors- Dhuleti and Holi. Anon, mom served me the Sorghum popcorn to me. The whitish- yellow piece with a black patch in the middle activated my desperation to attend the bonfire on the 'Phalgun Purnima'. I wondered if the mythic beliefs pertaining to the celebration of holy were sooth or meek tales.
Can Holika, the sister of the great, ardent ruler Hiranyakashyapa be imbecile enough to burn herself in an effort to kill Prahlada- Hiranyakahyap's son? The most wrangling was that can Hiranyakashyap be really blessed by the Lords as 'the conquerer of the world'? I mean how can someone think of himself as God and ask his people to worship him. I then thought that Prahlad was right to have not worshiped his father and worshiped the true Lord Almighty. He followed the path of truth and Lord aided him, he was miraculously saved from the burns of the bonfire in which he sat on Holika's lap. Holika's death signify the victory of God over evil.
The next moment did I abruptly surge out of the world of notions. I mocked at myself for not concentrating upon the taste of the delicious dish. Yet the tales enmeshing to the celebration of Holi kept feeding upon my mind. The tale of the Ogress Pootana who breast-feeded infant Lord Krishna with her poisonous milk, but Krishna in turn sucked her blood and laid her to death, seem to me an inspiring folk, but still it is hard to believe that Holi is celebrated on the day of the death of the demon Pootana.
By the time the thought wriggled in my mind, a call from my mother eroded my pensive mood and created an ambience of haste, as it was already ten.
Then was to begin the true fun of the fest. We all were to gather in my veranda and make up manoeuvres to shop the colors, pichkaris and balloons. Soon as expected, a massive chuckle was heard near my mansion. And in he bright light of day, appeared a group of kids proceeding towards my house. Each one had a frail of enthusiasm prevailing in the heart. Each one of the kids repeated a cycle of smiling, giggling, dancing and spreeing around. I waved at them and they waved back.
As soon as they harbingered, my first question wasn't a greeting, but the same thought that was harassing me throughout the day, I narrated the other tales of Holi to them and they gladly heard the folks. I narrated the story of Ogress Dhundhi, how she gained the boon of invincibility. But the only curse she bore was that she could be turned ash by the crazy acts of kids. I also told them that the Ogress had been primitively altering the smooth functioning of people's life and so did the priest of ruler Raghu's kingdom called for the naughtiest kids of the town and asked them to create an ambiance of mischief by singing, dancing, yelling and gadding around a pyre. And that the ogress was turned into ashes. This day is celebrated as Holi. And then I asked them if they beleived in any of the tales.
One of my friends from Uttar Pradesh told me that their Holi tale was rather different. She related it to the story of Krishna, but quite different from that of Ogress Pootana- Krishna legend. According to the Uttar Pradeshi faith, Krishna used to be jealous of Radha's fair complexion and so did Yashoda permit dark- complexioned Krishna to paint Radha's face with any color of his choice. And thus began the tradition of spilling up of colors on others, and this gave way to the Fest of Colors.
With this tale, a thrill of argument spread round the aura. One of the boys, a staunch theist and a follower of Shiva, related some totally different legend. According to him, when Sati- Lord Shiva's wife burnt herself in the fire, Lord Shiva renounced his duties and went into deep meditation. Meanwhile, Parvati started meditating on the mountains to acquire Shiva. The other Gods went to ask for Kamadeva's assistance. Kamadeva agreed and shot the arrow at Shiva. Shiva was distracted from his meditation and so he transformed Kamadeva into ashes. Due to Kamdeva's efforts, Parvati and Shiva married. So on the day when Kamdeva was disintegrated into ash, Holi is celebrated.
So with each argument, my internal questionary section summoned millions of questions concerning the actual origin of Holi celebration. A tangling and wrangling was occurring in my baffled brain. The most intense feeling of curiosity was being felt. Just because I was very eager and desperate to celebrate a carnival, and I didn't know the reason for its celebration. A self scorn and contempt clenched my veins. But the next moment I decided to believe in every tale and instead of protesting I made up my mind to concentrate upon the celebration
So nextly, our gang group rattled towards the street hawkers to buy good variety of colors. A rumor had lately spread that the colors contained an artificial mixture of toxic substances and that the natural colors weren't available. So it was a very difficult tax to choose true and natural colors among the natural looking synthetic and artificial colors. Anyways, we loaded up our baggages and were all set for the Holi day.
Each day had become hard to spend. Every second turned into an hour. At school, the only topic talked of was- Holi.....but the the awaited moment tottered by- the Holi day arrived.
The evening carried forward a wind of newness among women. Each women dressed in proper and traditional sarees and carried various requisites of worship. Men too dressed in an authentic manner. The puja elements included shrifal, khajoor, dhani, kumkum, chokha, etc.
So with a feeling of ecstasy each one proceeded to the open field where the arragements for the bonfire were made. The pyre included woods, cow dung and other combustible substances. As soon as all the people gathered, the fire was lit. Then each women and men together, did the puja and then proceeded towards the pradakshina of the pyre. The shrifals were heated up and then were distributed to each person as the prasad.
The warmth of the fire was felt by each one. The fire symbolized the burning of all the peoples' sins and peccadillos and the vanishing smoke depicted the disappearance of the grievances, sorrows and tensions of peoples' lives. So with the washing off of the sins, the Holi day ended up.
The next day that was to touch us up ranks among the most enchanting, loving, playful, mischievous, joyous, exhilarating, gleeful, exciting and the most eagerly awaited days of the year- The Dhuleti Day...
We all were up-to- date with our implements to be needed in the color game. We all woke up early in the morning and made certain preparations of colored water, tank filled with water pichkaris, water balloons, and mud-filled areas. We then assigned areas among ourselves, a small mob was to attack area 1 with the colors, the other crowd was to infect area 2 with water and so on.
In the early hour, there was no creature wandering by in the entire locality, but soon as we went door to door to call for people, soon the entire environment was filled with colors. People danced with enthusiasm on the beats of the live drums. There was a creation of a playfully revengeful condition, where some people were banged into the mud and yet others were drenched into tanks of colored water. Some were sprayed upon with pichkaris and some were hit with the balloons.
All over the country there were strands of different colors in the air. If some astronaut might glance the Earth from space, he could clearly be able to see multicolored strands in India as well as Nepal, Bangladesh, Guyana, Mauritius, Pakistan, South Africa, U.S.A., U.K., Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago.
There's a feeling of utmost pleasure and bliss among the individuals ont hs particular day. After the kota of coloring and being colored ended up, we all took a long lasting bath, yet some colors stained the individuals' bodies. Yet then, each one dressed in sober clothes gathered at the bashing area and had the most vulnerable drink of the carnival- Bhang or Thandai. Without sips of this fruitful drink, this festival is totally incomplete. So we had glasses full of this drink associated with Lord Shiva.
At last with a massive dinner, the most awaited day ended up with spruces of internal pleasure being harvested from the weeds of daily life. A mourn was spread by then. For a single day celebration isn't enough to fulfill the demanding needs of ecstasy for the children as well as adults. But yet each one had to accept the setting Sun, and wait for the next colorful sun to peep into the Earth.
And the last colorful sun set for me in 2013. So here I look forward now to the Holi of 2014....
Though Holi seems to be a harmless festival, but the colors used have caused a manifold increase in the water pollution throughout the decade. This Holi I tend to create awareness among people of the norganic chemicals used in the colors. Each one should play Holi. I don't ask to give up this festival. But only orgaic colors should be used so that we can poudly say that we had a pollution free and safe Holi celebration.....Happy Holi to each and every one on this temporary multicolored planet.....