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Indians celebrated Holi, the festival of colors, on 4th of March. Though some of them decided to play it a day earlier, leading to a great conflict about the actual date of Holi; except for this confusion, the festival was celebrated with the same old traditional enthusiasm it used to be when we were kids.
I can still remember my childhood days, when it was almost impossible to get a good night sleep on the eve of holi, for, the anticipation of next morning wouldn’t let the sleep settle on you. We used to get up early in the mornings, around six and wait for the sun to shine in its full glory because that is when all the parents would allow the kids to come out on the streets, to smother each other in the vibrant colors of ????? (Gulal). The best part of playing holi was to be able to hurl water filled baloons on strangers without fearing adverse repercussions. We would hide on the terraces, our young bodies restless with volatile energy to aim the next passer by on the street with the precision of a sniper, because the kid with the highest hits would be treated as superior sharp-shooter by the rest. And the best part of celebrating Holi in Jaipur (where my family lives and I too used to live as a kid, since my dad was transferred there on the job) was the sweets. ?????? (Gujia) and ???? (Ghevar) were my favorite and it would be safe to assume that almost every other kid loved ?????? as much as I did, for, that was the only sweet that would completely disappear within the moments of being brought to the fore.
As we grew older the attraction of holi also grew new dimensions for us. Early teens can be quite a yielding age for an average imaginative mind. The idea of smearing one’s face with all the dirty dark colors and turning up at a friend’s home and making him try to identify you hidden under the layers of unyielding colors can be quite an enjoyable experience if you are thirteen and believe that all the ideas that occur to you are ingenious and unique in the entire history of mankind. One of the other things that is included on one’s agenda is to grab hold of an unsuspecting nerdy friend and drown him (not literally) in a tank filled with colored broth and treat him to the nasty and unfriendly-to-the-skin colors so that it takes him ten days to get the colors off his skin and a month to get them off his clothes.
The next stage of life is the late teens, when you are more interested in playing holi with a different section of your society: the opposite sex! Almost any and every person, from opposite gender, around you can give you an adrenalin rush with a mere thought of your hands running over their skin (or vice-versa), under the guise of playing holi. If you are lucky, these could be some of the most tantalizing moments your life that will play an essential part in the process of your growing up.
Next stage of holi in one’s life is that of utter disgust! The early years of youth, for that is the time when you despise every single act of insignificance as a hurdle in your way to personal glory. You are more focused on serious things in life, like becoming independent, having a lifestyle, establishing yourself as a brand, earning laurels for your efforts and pocketing appreciation from your superiors and contemporaries alike and some good career deals to push you to a far more socially respectable stature.
Living a few years completely engrossed in achieving your goals in life, you tend to realize that you are missing out on fun. This is the time when you feel the need of having some close friends or one closer-than-the-rest friend in your life to share some memorable moments and/or do some romantic things with. This is when Holi meets us in an altogether different stage of life. The idea of playing holi sounds romantic and refreshing. Rubbing gulal on your partners face with the same zeal as used to be there in your childhood days, but only with a gentler movement of your hands, feeling your partner at same time letting them feel you through the colors of holi, colors of love and colors of life.
Holi is a festival that can refresh your spirit, whether or not you believe in its religious significance or spiritual importance. Holi is a festival that rejuvenates life which might otherwise be a batch of mundane chores that we have to do whether or not we like them. And as we all know Holi marks the advent of Spring too, in the cycle of four seasons, so in a way Holi is a symbolic game of colors, designed by our ancestors, to remind us the transitional nature of life and how important it is to enjoy every moment of it.
Happy Holi to you…