Add some color to your lives

by vpundir | March 26th, 2005

Happy Holi
The festival of colors

One of the two biggest Hindu festivals, Holi is often described as festival of colors. Indeed, it is a very colorful festival, in every sense of the word. The most obvious manifestation being the color play that marks the day. People smear each other’s face with gulal (fragrant, dry holi color), squirt each other with colored water and dunk everyone in tanks of colored water. In fact, if you were in India at this time of the year, you couldn’t walk a street without “becoming colorful”.

But there is much more to Holi than colors. It is the day of unbridled laughter, ranging from the silly (biggest fool conferences) to intellectual (conventions of humorous and satirical poetry). Fun is the general theme of the day, and even as people color each other, they go about to homes of friends and acquaintaces in groups – always walking there, singing aloud in streets. There are several festival-specific delicacies including the sweet gujhiya and the mustard & cinnamon flavored ferment called karanji.

Most of all, Holi is the day of the embrace or the hug, as people meet each other, close the book of the last year, forget past enmities and embrace everyone as their own.

Holi, also known as Holikotsav (Holi Festival), Vasantostsav (Spring Festival), and Madanotsav (Festival of the God of Desire), is celebrated 20 days after Vasant Panchmi (5th day of Spring) – a festival marked by a kite-dotted sky and worship of the Goddess of Learning. It can also be thought of as the new year of the farmers (Diwali being the new year of traders), and is the time when the harvest of the season is just ready.

For a quick primer (4 very short pages) on Holi, visit

You can send Holi eCards to your desi friends from

You may also want to check out the rather amateurishly charming game Rang De (Color Me) at

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