THE HOLI REVELATION: The shocking revelation of holi in movies vs. in real life!
Growing up, my favourite festival was Holi, but only because I’d never really played it. My concept of Holi had been modeled around the vast amount of information I’d gathered from Bollywood movies, songs and photographs.
I’d always imagined this festival of colours, is what represents India, the colours, the brotherhood, the love. As a young 8-year old, Holi was what I drew in my art class, when the topic given was: ‘My Favourite Festival’. Whoever said, you can’t put a time on art, obviously never attended middle school.
Because I was an Orthodox Christian who lived in the outskirts of the city with only cattle as neighbours; I never had the good fortune to really celebrate Holi, in all its glory.
My Holi memories were my brother and I drenching each other in coloured water with buckets and mugs; and my mother screaming in the background for us to get back because Holi was always strategically placed around the final exams.
So Holi for me was this Bollywood love story that I had fantasized over and over and perfected in my head.
It wasn’t till I was in my first year in college that I’d my first Holi experience. Let’s just say playing the ‘real’ Holi was my equivalent of finding out that Santa Claus doesn’t exist.
As a Holi virgin who entered the field with zero preparation, I was instantly mauled by all the beasts awaiting their next victim.
In the movies, Holi is always represented by these women running around with colours in their hands, very gently applying colours on each others’ faces as if they were the secret to blemish free skin; with their white kurtas stained in pink and yellow colours in a way that it should be considered art. Their faces by some miracle manages to stay clean with a few patches of pink and very distinctive three streaks of blue over their cheeks, as if a hand has been very seductively grazed over. (Like that of the UTv Pictures logo. I’m sure the 90s kids relate!)
Boy, oh boy was I in for a shock!
My experience taught me so much. First of all, don’t be stupid enough to enter to play this deadly game without prior preparation. Oiling your hair and skin to prevent the colours from seeping in through your skin is a must; unless you want it to seem as if you have an STD rash all over your body and discover that you are literally bleeding blue every time you take a shower for the next week.
Obviously don’t be stupid enough to wear jewellery, unless you want the aforementioned beasts to snatch your favourite chain during a ‘friendly’ game of Holi, leaving you with a scar that makes people wonder if you had thyroidectomy before.
I’ve always wondered why only throwing these neon-ish colous is the part that was always shown in slow motion in all the song sequences. I’ll tell you why! Because the only shot worth capturing is when the guy (preferably the hero), throws a handful of colour on the girl (preferably the heroine, the same one from earlier with strategically placed streaks of color on her face).
And I say this is the only scene worth capturing because what ensues is this intense rubbing-mauling-groping session that would put wild animals to shame.
All of a sudden, it’s as if a mental horn simultaneously blares in everybody’s head signifying a war cry. Everybody’s priority then shifts from posing for candid pictures (enough to #TBT till next Holi), to making sure that every single person next to you has been dipped and dusted in so much neon pink, green and yellow, that you might argue that the ulterior motive was to turn everyone into a colourful beacon to attract beings from outer space.
If you think that once people have exhausted their Holi stash and water, they will gracefully recede to their respective homes; then think again. “Jugaad’ is every Indian’s middle name, so why should they shy away from their inherent resourcefulness during one of the most important festivals.
Before you know it, the empty water guns and buckets have been discarded and the whole thing has turned into a barbarian mud fight.
Only when the summer afternoon sun starts scorching everyone’s back and dries up the mud, do people accept defeat and trudge back to their homes, their clothes being weighed down by the dried mud but their hearts that much lighter.
And all that remains are the numerous pichkaaris, empty polythene bags and a multi-coloured ground to bear testament to the battle that took place there.
Even though it’s insanely ferocious and aggressive, there is no denying that playing Holi is always a lot of fun. That is why people all over India gather in huge numbers to celebrate this festival of colours. Because when else is it acceptable for a complete stranger to vigorously shove coloured powder all over your face, so that you cough coloured snot out from your nostrils for the remainder of your week, like a cartoon dragon.
Because amongst all the competition of dousing each other in colours; barriers are broken, bonds blossom, camaraderie created and friendships are forged. And all that makes it worth it, even if it means that for the next few days every time you take a shower it resembles a crime scene.
That is the beauty of this Indian festival of colours; even though everyone is plastered with layers of different colours on their faces; you somehow manage to see them more clearly than ever.