By Azkia Aarif
“Bura na maano, Holi hai!” (don’t take it to heart, it’s Holi!) is a popular phrase we grew up listening to. It gave people the license to play any silly or naughty prank and get away with it by making a cute sorry face, holding their ears to suggest an apology and repeating it over and over again. But that twinkle in their eyes always gave away their impish intentions of just having fun since it was Holi after all—the festival of fun for people of all religions, a day to rid oneself of past errors, to meet others, play and laugh and repair ruptured relationships, a day to forgive and forget with the help of vibrant colours!
We may love using Holi as an excuse to get high on ‘bhang’ now, but the innocence of celebrating the festival as kids can never really be forgotten. How we wish we could go back in time and play Holi just like we did as little kids. Come March and you could literally smell the festivity in the air. Shops sprawled out on the streets with Holi colours, water balloons and of course, those fancy water guns. Holi shopping with parents, days in advance, was the best thing ever. It was never a one-day affair. Celebrations started around a week in advance and the whole locality lived under the delightful terror of being attacked by the notorious kids, hiding behind parapets and staircases, armed with water balloons. Elaborate plans were made on Holi eve and old clothes were pulled out of the closet to be sacrificed the next day, unlike the spotless new whites as depicted in movies. The excitement made it impossible to sleep. And still, we woke up early in the morning and prepared countless water balloons, stocking them up in tubs and buckets. It really hurt to find that most of the balloons in those packets were defective. Holi was equally about scrumptious delights. Binging on sweets till the stomach hurt is a memory we all would relate to. Relatives, neighbours and family friends kick-started the day by visiting each other, though they had such a civil way of greeting each other that paled in comparison to the animated celebrations, that we kids enjoyed. Hi d i ng b e h i nd the parapets of balconies and terraces, we played the most mischievous pranks on passers-by. Even being rebuked at times for some unsporting reactions from the strangers we dunked, barely dampened our spirit. Those with a terrace, had the best Holi strategies ever. Holi was no less than a war; you could be shot down by a water balloon if you stepped out in your balcony for a second. Terrace wars were at their peak and you always ended up dirtying the whole house, in spite of all the warnings that your mother may have given you. The winters would have just gone by and the summers hadn’t really arrived either as getting drenched only made the wind feel colder as we shivered away, lost in joy. Cold, fever? Bring it on! There was no way we were giving up on a chance to celebrate Holi. Just when you thought the water war was over, and you were drying yourself in the sun, along came a new person to the party and the celebrations began all over again. The extent of fun you had was gauged by the amount of colour on your skin and nails, the next day in school. Wherever you looked, you could see these monsters with bluepurple ears and orange fingers. Yes, our mothers did advise us to apply oil on our skin and hair before playing Holi for a reason. Those were the days! Times change, people change, but Holi remains etched in everyone’s heart as the most exciting festival of the year. The Coffe Bytes team would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers a very happy and safe Holi ! â