The first rays of the spring sunlight splashes the first wave of colour onto the world around us on this warm March morning. You can hear the taps running, the water flowing and the colours. A sea of every imaginable colour heaped into those churning waters as people prepare for the festival of colours. Holi or “Dol” as we call it, has arrived.
Shops set up weeks in advance, boasting an arsenal of “pichkiri’s” and balloons. But the star attraction of each is the myriad of colours. Heaped in vessels, packed in boxes, grainy, shiny, smooth and of every variety imaginable, ready to be applied onto a fellow reveler or to pour down upon an unsuspecting victim. Share colours, share joy. A day when caste, creed, race, colour and personal indifferences are forgotten and replaced by the dab of “abir” on the forehead and the smile glowing bright on the people’s darkened faces. For those, for whom the thrill of revelry proves too much to take, are more than compensated by observing from a distance as a festival unites a nation into a bunch of wildly coloured individuals, striving for the same purpose, eternal joy and happiness.
Personally, my first holi came pretty late. My mother wasn’t a big fan, as a result, I had my doubts too. But I was about 8 years old, when I played holi for the first time. The first shock of getting submerged into a bucket of colours is a feeling like no other. Here you are all dry and clean one second, the next, your being held up by your feet, and head halfway down a tub. Not the best possible introduction to the festival I’d admit but a very effective one. After that, it was a joy ride all morning, pelting people I didn’t even know with balloons filled with water and not getting beaten up for it. A very satisfying crime indeed. It took me about a week to get all the colours off after that, but each shade was a worthy reminder of all the fun times that you have, and each have a story of its own to tell. And even though the colours may fade, the memories cling on. And until next year, when once again the spring sun will bleach the earth with its own dash of gold, we can always look back to the year gone by and in a fit of hysteria, unite to scream out, “HOLI HAI!!”