Festival of colours- Holi

Holi welcomes the spring and the season of love in Honor of God Krishna, who played in his times throwing colors at his many lovers. In the city of Vrindavan, this festival lasts for 7 days. Colours are the most joyous part of the Holi celebrations. They add life and vitality to the festival making it most vibrant of all. Happy holi, everyone

Largely everybody I know love to indulge in Holi celebrations. Not me. I not only refrain from celebrating the colours part, as the artificial colours used in the festivities give my skin rashes and irritation in the eyes. The other unholy part why I desist is the rowdiness associated with this festival which don’t allow me to feel comfortable with strangers coming up to me to apply tilak!!

Pre Colours night - the bonfire
As much as this was a genteel act of good winning over evil, with my social knowledge quotient going up I just feel that the burning of fuelwood to create the bonfire for Holika dahan presents another serious environmental problem. A study done in the state of Gujarat revealed that each bonfire uses around 100 kg of wood, and considering that approximately 30,000 bonfires are lit in the state of Gujarat alone on Holi night this leads to a staggering amount of wood loss.

Maybe we need to find an alternative material to burn instead of good wood?

How about a dry Holi?
In the current situation of water scarcity faced by most of our cities, the wasteful use of water during Holi, is also under scrutiny. It is common for people to douse each other with buckets of water during Holi, and children often resort to throwing water balloons at each other, if not buckets of water from atop apartments on innocent passerbys. The idea of a dry Holi may seem superficial and alien, however if you allow yourself to ponder a wee bit, especially as the climate becomes warmer around Holi, and the water provides welcome relief from the heat – consider our large cities where citizens go without water for several days, it seems wasteful to use so much water simply for a celebration.

I think awareness about the environmental impacts of celebrating Holi are being felt, we need to find traction , and we need to allow our actions to speak louder than words. We need to choose a more natural and less wasteful way of playing Holi.

An environmentally sensitive Holi?
Originally the playful throwing of the coloured powders was seen as joyous as it had a medicinal significance as the coloured powders were made of Neem, Kumkum, Haldi, Bilva, and other medicinal herbs prescribed by Ayurvedic doctors. Including Bhang that is drunk had medicinal reasons for it to be considered good.

But modern days bring its own apathy and neglect. The pastes contain very toxic chemicals that can have severe health effects - Black contains Lead oxide and can cause Renal Failure, Green contains Copper Sulphate and can cause Eye Allergy, Puffiness and Temporary blindness, Silver contains Aluminium Bromide which is Carcinogenic, Blue contains Prussian Blue whcih can lead to Contract Dematitis
Red contains Mercury Sulphite which is highly toxic and can cause skin cancer

And heard this? Holi gulaal is now mixed with Glass Powder to add that sparkle and shine to it to make it look more alluring to beckon buyers!


ALLEX said...

It seems you dont like holi for any reason. I also feel the same.Especially cleaning the house becomes a cumbersome exercise.... anyway HAPPY HOLI

keshi said...

On a more optimistic note lets celebrate Holi with sweetness. Its mithai like Ghujia, Ghevar, thandai that makes up for festivities for me. And ofcourse friends and family with whom we eat all these goodies:)

ashish said...

Hey Mee wish you and all at home a colourful holi.

gita said...

Holi hey!:) did you even step out today Mee?:) we were all busy playing holi till 3!! And then attacked lunch:) slept some, catchin up on mails n stuff n decided to look up your blog, yea its true thr is much wastage of water and so much adulteration in colours - wish people will become more responsible. A festival does not mean excesses, it simply means togetherness:)

melinda said...

Difficult times we live in today. The more precautions one uses the more one veers away from mainstream. Thr is much to be corrected and the tasks ahead are huge:(

sanjiv said...

In Delhi, people move out in tolis and apply colour on each other till they become unrecognizable. We tend to usually not go out with families beyond our neighborhood. We decided to drive out for an early lunch today, even public conveyances seemed to be of the roads or maybe were not plying with the usual frequency. It was a delight to be on empty roads and drive peacefully todaya

RavneetSingh said...

If wishes come in rainbow colors then I would send the brightest one to say Happy Holi.

Anon said...

Holi celebrations in Bombay took place with lot of joy and verve today if what we witnessed at Juhu beah was any indication. Thousands and thousands of revellers were thronging the beach and their enthusiasm knew no peak:), they all seems to no know worries, were singing joyously and dancing awaywith the merry of Holi.

Holi has been celebrated in India since time immemorial but the popularity of Holi celebrations seems to be rising with every passing year and so is the level of hoo-ha. As no other festival gives so much liberty to the people to let their hair loose and enjoy their hidden crazy self.

Differences of any sort are drowned in the coloured waters of Holi and people just enjoy being a play animal. To further enhance the festive spirit of Holi celebrations we have a social sanction to get a kick with the tradition of bhang. Then there is total wildness as people dance to the rhythm of dholak and sing traditional folk songs in loudest possible pitch.


Mike said...

Happy Holi Mee!

Hope you had a nice time with family and friends. I read your blog and was taken aback by such horrible happenings especially when the occasion is a happy one.

One of my wishes is to play Holi in India and get very high on bhang, and I hope one day I get to come to your beautiful country and be able to partake in your festivals.

Anon said...

For me, the Holi experience is a concentrated microcosm of traveling in India. This celebration of life is passionate, colorful, bizarre, beautiful, and chaotic, all words that best describe this land which I seem to be drawn back to time and time again. India is not a place you go to see, but rather a place to experience, and there are few better ways to experience it than Holi -@Lewin

Anon said...

let me tell you, i detest this festival!! let me tell you why...

the last time i played holi i was in school - my friends dunked me in a ditch filled with mud.. water..straw and horse poop.. then they cracked seven eggs on my head. i had to pay a cab driver 100 bucks to take me from cuffe parade to metro in a dirty cab. He made me sit on newspapers and asked me ' macchi market jaake aaya kya?'. i had to literally peel my eyes open because the egg whte had dried up crustified on my eyelashes ..sticking my eyes shut.
then, when i got home, i rang the doorbell.. my mother opens the door.. took one disgusted look at me and siad vera's not home' before she slammed the door in my face. after that.. she banned me from bathing in our loo cuz she had just re-tiled the bathroom. so i had to bathe in the servant's loo.. sigh... when i got out i realised i had no eyebrows left!!! because some moron put hair removing cream in the water balloons

so... I HATE HOLI!!! -Vera

vinay said...

Hi Mee--
After reading ur blog n comments I felt like sharing the importance of Holi not only for the Hindus but also for the Muslims.

(The following information has been gathered from different sites)

Holi - a shared colourful heritage of Hindus and the Muslims.
It may be the most colourful Hindu festival but it has a Muslim history as well.

Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar,allowed his Hindu ministers to tinge his forehead with ‘gulal’ during Holi festival each year.
During the Shahjahani tenure of Delhi, Holi was known as Eid-e-Gulabi (Pink Eid) or Aab-e-Pashi (Shower of Colourful Flowers).
The nobles, kings and nawabs exchanged rose water bottles and sprinkled them on each other along with the frenzied drumming of the ‘nagaras’ (drums).
Zakaullah writes in his book Tarikh-e-Hindustani that the carnival of Holi lasted for days during the Mughal rule during which people, irrespective of religious or social distinctions, forgot their restraints. The poorest of the poor threw colour on the emperor.

Would also like to add that the sprinkling of water and colour on each other is also a Shia Muslim tradtion practiced on Navroz. The festival of Navroz is pre-Islamic and has its origin in ancient Persia. It was one of the major festivals during the times of the Achaemanid Empire and the later Sassanid period. The Shia Muslims have retained this festival with slight modifications. It is celebrated in Iran, Afghanistan, parts of Central Asia and ofcourse by the Parsis of India.

" La ilaha ki bharke pichkari khwaja piya ne mukh pe mari,
Shyam ki mai to gai bal bal haari,
kaisa hai piya subhaan-allah..."
"Holi khelen padh ke bismillah
la-ilaha-illallah ..."
(Filling the pichkari with the name of God, our Khwaja sprayed it on my face, I went berserk over Shyam, this is how my beloved is; Subhaan-allah,
Let us play Holi by taking the name of God)

These couplets inscribed on the walls of the shrine of Abdul Samad Rehmatullah in Bhadra area of Ahmedabad, are a clear example of the Sufis' efforts to build harmonious culture in India.

Legend has it that Chishti Abdul Samad came down to Ahmedabad as an officer of Mughal army when Aurangzeb was the governor of this province in 17th century and settled in the city. Caretakers of this mosque are extremely protective of this writing on the wall.

The other instances of communal harmony is the qawwalis sung at Shah-e-Alam and Sarkhez rozas which say: " Khelo re khelo chishtio khelo re holi, Aaj sabir piya ke ghar rang hai ..." These are the famous lines of Aamir Khusro.

Nazeer Akbarabadi (Real name "Wali Muhammad" was an Indian poet of 18th century who wrote Urdu ghazals and nazms. His father was Muhammad Farooq and his mother was the daughter of Nawab Sultan Khan who was the governor of Agra Fort.)

Some of his master pieces (as mentioned below) talk about Holi---

Hooaa jo aa kay nishaaN aashkaar Holi ka
Baja roobaab say mil kar sitaar Holi ka
Surood, Raqs hooaa bay shumaar Holi ka
Hansi Khooshi meiN barha karobaar Holi Ka
Zabaan pay naam hooaa baar baar Holi ka

Khooshi ki dhhoom say her ghar may rang banwaaey
Guulaal, abeer kay bhar bhar kay thhaal rakhwaaey
NashoN kay josh hooey raag o rang thheraaey
Jhuumaktay roop kay bun bun sawaang dikhlaaey
Hooaa huujoom ajab her kinaar Holi Ka

Gali meiN koochay meiN, ghuul shor ho rahey aksar
Pharrakney rang lagey yaar her gharri bhar bhar
Badan meiN bhheegay heiN kaprey guulaal chehroN per
Machi yeh dhoom to apnay gharoN say khhoosh ho kar
Tamaasha daikhney niklay nigaar Holi ka

Bahaar kaproN ki, her ik ko jab nazar aaee
Her Ishq baaz nay dil ki muraad bhar paaee
Nigah larraa kay puukaara her aik shaidaaee
MiyaaN yeh tuum nay jo poshaak apni dikhlaaee
Khoosh aayaa ab hameiN naqsh o nigaar Holi ka

Tuumhaarey daikh kay muukh per guulaal ki laali
Hamaarey dil ko hooee, her tarah ki khoosh haali
Nigah nay dee maa'ey guulrang kee bharee piyaali
Jo hans kay do hameiN piyaarey tuum iss gharree gaali
To hum bhee jaaneiN kay aisaa hay piyaar Holi ka

Jo kee hay tuum nay yeh, holi kee tuurfa tayaari
To hans kay daikho idhar ko bhee jaan yak baari
Tumhaari aan bohat hum ko lagti hay piyaari
Lagaa di haath say apnay jo aik pichkaari
To hum bhee daikheiN badan per singhaar Holi ka

Tuumhaarey milney ka, rakh ker hum apney dil meiN dhiyaan
Kharrey heiN, aass lagaa ker kay daikh leiN ik aan
Yeh khoosh dili ka jo thehra hay aan ker saamaan
Galey meiN daal kay baanheiN khooshi say tuum ay jaan
Pinhaao hum ko bhee ik dum yeh haar Holi ka

Uudhar say rang liyay aao tuum idhhar say hum
Guulaal abeer maleiN moonh pay ho kay khoosh her dum
Khooshi say boleiN, hanseiN , Holi khail kar baahum
Bohat dinoN say hameiN to tuumhaarey sir ki qasam
Issi umeed meiN thaa, intizaar Holi ka

BuutooN ki gaaliyaaN hans hans kay kooee sehtaa hay
Guulaal parta hay kaproN say rang behtaa hay
Lagaa kay taak kooee , moonh ko daikh rehtaa hay
Nazeer, Yaar say apney kharra yeh kehtaa hay
Maza dikhaa hameiN kuuchh too bhee yaar Holi ka

Munir Saahab followed that up with this, again from Nazeer, this time adding the comment that "the editors of the kuuliyaat have censored some juicy pieces. But even the left over is hot!"

Holi ki bahaareiN

Jab phaagan rang jhamaktay hoN, tub daikh bahaareiN Holi kee
Aur duff kay shor kharraktay hoN, tub daikh bahaareiN Holi kee
PariyoN kay rang damakaty hoN, tub daikh bahaareiN Holi kee
Khhuum, sheeshay, jaam chhalaktay hoN, tub daikh bahaareiN Holi kee
Mehboob nashay meiN chhaktay hoN, tub daik bahaareiN Holi kee

Ho naach rangeeli pariyoN ka, baithay hoN gulroo rang bharay
kuuchh bheegi taaneiN holi ki, kuuchh naaz o adaa kay dhhang bharay
Dil phoolay daikh bahaaroN ko, aur kaanoN meiN aahang bharay
Kuuchh tablay kharrkeiN rang bharay, kuuchh aish kay moonh dum chang bharay
Kuuchh ghoongroo taal chhanaktay hoN, tub daikh bahaareiN Holi kee

Saamaan jahaaN tak hota hay, iss ishrat kay matlooboN ka
Woh sab saamaan moohaiyaa ho, aur baagh khuula ho khooboN ka
Her aan sharaabeiN dhalti hoN, aur tthutthh ho rang kay dooboN ka
Iss aish, mazay kay aalam meiN, ik ghaul kharra mehboobooN ka
KaproN per rang chirraktay hoN, tub daikh bahaareiN Holi kee

Guulzzar khuulay hoN pariyoN kay, aur majlis ki tayyari ho
KaproN per rang kay chheentoN say, khhoosh rang ajab guulkaari ho
Moonh laal, goolaabi aankhieN hoN, aur haathhoN meiN pichkaari ho
Woh ranh bharee pichkaree jo, angiya per tuk kar maari ho
SeenoN say rang dhalaktay hoN, tub daikh bahaareiN Holi kee

Uuss rang rangeeli majlis meiN, randi bhee naachnay waali ho
Moonh jiss ka chaand ka tukrra ho, aur aankh bhee maey ki piyaali ho
Budmust, barree matwaali ho, her aan bajaatee taali ho
Maey noshi ho, bay hoshi ho, "Bharway" ki moonh meiN gaali ho
Bharway bhee "bharwa" baktay hoN, tub daikh bahaareiN Holi kee

Aur aik taraf dil lainay ko, mehboob bhhawaiyoN kay larkay
Her aan gharee gut phartay hoN, kuuchh ghutt ghutt kay, kuuchh hutt hutt kay
Kuuchh naaz jataaweiN larr larr kay, kuuchh holi gaaweiN arr arr kay
Kuuchh lachkay shokh kamar patlee, kuuchh haath chalay, kuuchh tun pharrkay
Kuuchh kaafir nain mataktay hoN, tub daikh bahaareiN Holi kee

Anyways HAPPY HOLI........