Holi was one of those days which meant a lot when I was young. It was really difficult to wait for a year to take part in the festival of colours. There were other festive occasions but Holi was the best. On Diwali the celebrations were and are restricted to the confines of the home but Holi was something to be enjoyed outside on the roads in the company of friends. That was the greatest thing about Holi. It was also made special since according to the Hindu calendar, my youngest brother was born the day before Holi, Dolo purnima.
My parents took the responsibility in deciding about the kind of colours that me and my siblings could get access to. We were forbidden from using or rather throwing balloons filled with coloured water on buildings as well as on other revellers. But there was no restriction on the variety of items-sweet and savouries that could be consumed at home. Some were bought and my mother had her specials to mark the occasion.
For a while, I was given the responsibility of captaining the team that included my two younger brothers on the day of Holi. A large group of friends would almost cover the entire town on foot at a time when the town was very small and a lot more friendly. It was past the afternoon that we would return home feeling the after effects of the walking, the hot sun and the hunger. But we had to wait till mother would apply oil-mostly coconut oil to remove the colours before giving us the bath. The wait for lunch was excruciating to say the least and it was difficult to consume the food with sleep affecting our reflexes.
There was the sight of a group of elders of the town moving around the town with coloured powder and sweets accompanied by traditional music. The group was led by a gentleman who was the chairperson of the municipality many times. The sight of pot bellies swaying to the music was a sight to behold.
Once me and my brothers got more friends, we went separate ways in celebrating Holi. There were certain people who did not play fair. My younger brother was on the way back alone and a bully smeared his face with black paint. My brother came running to the home and mother took over with her cleaning methods to remove the paint. My brother was warned not to go out for the day. But within a few minutes after the cleaning he went out and his face was painted black once again by the same person. Meanwhile, I returned home and my parents let loose their verbals volleys on me for being irresponsible. I found my brother sitting with a glum face with the black paint on his face. My youngest brother and sister were trying to console him. Upon enquiry, I discovered that mother was angry for my brother crossed the Lakshman rekha. To this day, we all have a hearty chuckle recounting this and many other episodes related to Holi. Sadly, there were no cameras or smartphones to capture selfies and photos in those days.
Holi was truly an occasion where we could celebrate without any care in the world and being young with no responsibility and chips on shoulders, it was one that has given memories for a lifetime. Of course, with age and the changed priorities of the society, Holi has become less colourful and less enjoyable. The passing away of my youngest brother has had its effect on the celebration of Holi.
But then in the recent years, my five year old son who pushes Dennis the Menace into a distant second place, Holi has become enjoyable once again although I dearly miss the past and the company of friends and siblings who made Holi special. No display technology can really supplant the colourful memories of Holi.
The video offers a small insight into the joy that comes with Holi.No
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