What Colour is your Holi?

In our school, we have always encouraged students (and teachers, and everyone else) to think up things which improves upon existing notions and discourse. Our belief in creating classrooms where knowledge is imparted through constructive approach stands strong each day. A child should be able to paint the world in his colours, his ideas, his beliefs, however, within the careful guidance of the ever-watchful and encouraging mentors.

And since it is the joyous weekend of the festival of colours, we thought of initiating a discussion to re-paint what we know and understand of Holi. We are all aware of the many legends and stories which tell us why Holi is celebrated – right from the tale of Holika to the enchanting lore of Radha-Krishna leela. We also are aware of the manner in which the festival is observed across India, with gulaal-pichkaari and distribution of home-made sweetmeats. But is there more to Holi than this? In its current manifestation, has Holi acquired new meanings/dimensions? Are there newer ways in which this festival can be celebrated?

We asked the same to our students and received some interesting answers.

A canvas to my art

“Holi comes with colored clouds and heavy water, making a rainbow on land. Light disperses into joy and celebration of colors. The festival has a very special place in my heart”, shares Anavi Akhaury. Ask her why and she will tell you, “I identify myself as an artist and Holi is a festival which makes me paint faces! Well, talk about exploring new mediums and practicing my talents.” She is unabashed in explaining how the fun and joy of Holi overpowers every caveat and caution. “It is like a gym and spa day combined! The best part is, it brings the family together like nothing else does.”

An eclectic land of stories

As the fun and colours take over, the message and meaning of Holi somewhat take a backseat. So concur many of our students. “Holi was initially meant as a celebration for good defeating bad. Unfortunately, not a lot of people know about this today. Playing with colors is a good way to celebrate this festival, however I believe that each and every one of us should have the chance to become enlightened about the history of the festival that we love”, articulates Ishika Jain. And she is among those who waits for the festival the entire year!

A time for togetherness, a time for equality

The colour-smeared faced look all the same in a crowd of revelers. Holi is the festival when differences get painted in homogeneity. The young and old, men and women, the rich and not-so – their diversities collapse as celebrations take over. With traditional sweets being prepared in homes weeks in advance, it is an occasion for friends and family to come together and share these culinary aspects of our culture. Biting into a gujiya and sipping some kanji are familiar scenes you must be observing at your home.

Some of our students tell us that it is not just the festival, but the build up to it which they relish too! They enjoy learning from their mothers, and in some cases, their grandmothers, the recipes to the Holi delicacies. Then, of course, the frequency of sauntering into the kitchen goes up, to secretly feed on the same – all a part of fun today, and memories tomorrow!

A celebration for many, a concern for some

“I was in the car on the way to my piano class when I suddenly heard a loud bang against the car window to my right. After the initial shock of the noise, I started laughing nervously and realized it was a water balloon. The first thing that came to my mind was, ‘Looks like Holi is here!’”, pens Shree Bhattacharya. This sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Of course, many of us are not always protected by the glass windows of our car as water-balloons are aimed to hapless pedestrians from frolickers hiding in balconies and terrace.

An occasion of fun for some should never transform into a cause of harm for others. Your joy shouldn’t contribute to anyone else’s annoyance. While Holi is a great occasion to rejoice, there are aspects one must be mindful of. Other than the instances quotes above, one must take care to not use chemicals and dyes which can damage skin and hair. One must also not transgress the boundaries of respect and compassion, which are values to be observed each day of life.

Ananya Budhia has an exhortation before we wish you Holi and close this article – “Today, I plead you to go to your grandma, sit down and listen to the story of Prahlad. Celebrate Holi with all the colors that you like but keep the values of our elders in your heart and value the knowledge that has been left behind.”

So, again, a vibrant, colourful and happy Holi to you all!

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