A Pedacito Of Holi In India
Updated: Jun 19, 2022
Holi is my favorite festival. This festival is vibrant, full of color, love, and joy. Like every Indian festival, Holi too has a tale behind the celebration.
According to Hindu mythology, the demon king, Hiranyakashyap, was given a reward that granted him the ability to not be killed by a man or an animal, and as a result, he wanted to be worshipped by humanity. On the other hand, Prahlad, his son, was a devotee of Lord Vishnu.
King Hiranyakashyap, angry that his son did not worship him, asked his sister, the demon Holika, to sit on a pyre while holding his son. Holika died while sitting next to the fire, but Lord Vishnu saved Prahlad and later killed the demon king as Narasimha, a half-human, half-lion avatar.
When I was a child, my parents wouldn't allow me to play Holi, as this festival comes in March. In the month of March, we have final exams.
Since I entered my teenage years, I have celebrated this festival with so much madness.
Splashing water on my friend's faces and smearing colors on each other.
Red, blue, green, yellow, orange, purple, pink, and sometimes golden and silver. And these colors won't leave your face for days!
The best thing about Holi is that it is celebrated with no differences in caste, creed, religion, or color. We put color on our best friends, family members, neighbors, society's uncles and aunties, our watchmen, our helpers, Rickshawala. This festival is full of love and super tasty food.
Every Holi, we prepare some super-tasty treats such as Gujiya, Jalebi which are traditional Holi sweets, and Thandai, a milk-based Holi drink. Some people also take bhang, which is cannabis mixed with thandai and is highly intoxicating. On Holi, people all over the country enjoy bhang.
Believe it or not, bhang has become an integral part of Hindu culture.
While India isn't exactly a country where you sit and have your first drink with your parents, Holi is an exception for many families.
But, given that cannabis is a banned substance in India, how is bhang so widely available? The answer can be summed up in a single word: loopholes!
One of my best memories of Holi is when my best friend Anna dragged me to an orphanage in Mumbai.
That orphanage is for young boys. Some of them don't have parents, and some of their parents were daily wage workers who couldn't even afford to feed their boys or send them to school. This orphanage was taking care of them, responsible for their primary education.
I still remember the smiles on the faces of those boys. They were so happy that so many of us were celebrating Holi with them. It was super fun. Those boys were smart and notorious.
They would fill buckets of water with Holi color and pour it on anyone and everyone present there. It was a Holi party! We danced for hours. I was wearing these cool KTM sunglasses for style and also to protect my lenses.
All those kids were so excited to look at the fancy KTM goggles. All the boys tried it and asked me to click their pictures. Spending Holi with them was worth it. Our small efforts bring them so much joy.
Another precious memory is from March 2018, when I was visiting New Jersey in the United States for work.
I was homesick as for the first time I was away from family and friends for Holi. To my surprise, as I entered the office that day, there were a lot of colors on the desk and Indian food.
My American colleagues were so warm that they celebrated Holi with me. We smeared color on each other with love and happiness and later on clicked a lot of pictures. And I had the best Indian food that day in New Jersey. Apparently, they all loved Indian food like me!
But after the celebration in the office, my heart was filled with joy and gratitude.
Since COVID-19 hit, we have not played the last two Holi's due to health concerns. Oh, God! I miss Holi so much! I am looking forward to the day when it will be safe to play Holi again!
Join our community to network with other travelers around the world and to gain access to exclusive content and events. Submit your travel stories for a chance to get published! If you enjoy stories like this and want to support our community, join our Patreon by clicking the link below.