From the Editor – Arre, Bura na Maano Yaar

Holi hai!!! (abhi na sahi, jaldi hi hai :))

I think our ancestors were really clever when they started celebrating the festival of holi. They gave us a valid excuse to go to school with a hint of pink behind our ears and with bright purple nails and also to get drenched in water and aim water canons and balloons at hapless passer-bys.

Colors of Holi at Annual Holi Mela in Pragati Maidaan, Palampur


When I was a child, Holi used to be my favorite festival, even more than Diwali. I remember about 20 of us hopping from one terrace to the other, squirting coloured water with pichkaaris at each other and rubbing the most obnoxious colours on each other’s face making it a point not to miss the teeth and hair. And then while drying ourselves in the sun, discussing that legendary black/silver/gold colour that apparently never comes off and at least one of us would point at a toli playing holi across the street and claiming that they were using those colours. And then observing the group of barely recognisable, grown-up boys dancing to the loud music and dholak and whispering amongst ourselves how they had obviously had some bhang and then shaking our heads and proclaiming our aversion to such practices. And then there were some adults who would pass by in their spotless kurtas and shout at us if we as much as threw some harmless gulaal at them. Now that I am in their positions, I am sure they secretly enjoyed getting drenched and coloured even though they were too embarassed to admit it then. This is a particularly sweet trait of mankind.

Holi Car

Anyways, before I go any further with this, let me pause a little and acknowledge the achievers of this month. The first is of course as you would have guessed, the Featured Author of the Month of March 2012. And it is none other than the master storyteller, Manish Khamesra, himself.

Manish KhamesraManish joined Ghumakkar in September 2007 and since then has written 36 posts at Ghumakkar. Each of his post is a indeed a “masterpiece” and a reader’s delight. The latest addition to his ongoing series “Kumaon Trip” presents the often-explored regions of kumaon in a unique, engaging way and any words of praise for the quality of his writing would fall too short. So I will leave it up to you to read and appreciate his contribution to Ghumakkar. Click here to read all his stories.

And now for the next award, the Featured Story of the Month of February 2012, which has already been announced in the Author’s newsletter yesterday. The award goes to घुमक्कड़ी-कुछ खट्टी, कुछ मीठी!!! by SilentSoul

The story is a unique take on Ghumakkari and each part tells several stories that entertain us as well make us think about several things we take for granted and don’t care enough to give a serious thought. From honesty in trade to empathetic sadhus, the story has the potential to change the way you look at the world. With two parts published, the series is already over, but they still leave us craving for more such tales. Click here to read the story in case you have missed it.

Both Manish and SilentSoul will each receive a small token of appreciation from Ghumakkar soon. Hope they enjoy it. And, no, it will not be a water balloon filled with obnoxious purple water. Though you can never be sure. After all, it’s holi.

Most of us would already be aware, but Holi is a perfect opportunity for Ghumakkari as well. Each state of India has adopted and refined holi celebrations as per its unique culture and beliefs. It is worth any Ghumakkar’s times to visit and see what Holi feels like in various parts of India. Most of us have heard of the Lathmaar Holi of Barsana. Hitting each other with Lathis sounds like a pretty rowdy way to celebrate a festival that is said to bring peace between sworn enemies. But once you find out the history behind such bizarre way of celebrating the festival, things start to make some sense. Barsana is actually the birth place of Radha. And it is women who hit men with Lathis during the celebrations to prevent them from hoisting a flag at Radha’s temple. The celebrations are held in a playful spirit and there aren’t many altercations during the celebrations. Speaking for myself though, I would still want to keep at least a mile between me and the nearest person wielding a lathi even if it is only playfully.

In Haryana and some parts of Rajasthan, wet saris, rolled up to form ropes, replace the Lathis. Here again, men try to colour the women with Gulaal and wet colours, while women thrash the men with the sari-ropes. Devars get special attention. Their bhabhis thrash them left and right with the sari-ropes, ostensibly to punish them for all the pranks they have played on the bhabhis throughout the year. But I suspect that the poor devars would be getting more than their fair share of thrashings especially if the bhabhi isn’t too happy with her mother-in-law that morning. At times, I wonder why men look forward to holi at all. I guess some things are very difficult to explain.

I would love to be the kid in the centre getting drenched in the water. How about you?

And, of course, all of us have seen in some movie or the other, the youth forming pyramids to reach out to that elusive matki full of makkhan, trying to break it while facing ruthless water canons, amidst the chants of “Govinda aala re aala, zara matki sambhal brijbala”. This is a typical Holi scene from Maharashtra or Gujarat. The man who manages to break the Matki is known as the “Holi King” for the rest of the year.

Holi also generates a lot of interest abroad. There is a lot of curiosity for the colors and they quite envy us for being able to slip back to our childhood so easily. To cater to these curious foreign tourists, festivals such as Holi Cow Festival where foreign tousists can enjoy getting smeared with non-toxic Gulaal and bhang-flavoured lassis.

While these special Holis are becoming grander, I often feel a little worried that the holis played in colonies are losing their charm. Nevertheless, without fail, every holi, I make it a point to get back home in time to celebrate this charming festival with my family. And each time, my worries about the festival fading away are dispelled when that one water-balloon, aimed with perfection, lands on my back and bursts, leaving a big splat of pink or purple. I search the terraces for the miscreants and shake my fist at them while shouting about their indiscipline and total disregard for others’ safety. They stare at me, the sheepish grin never leaving their faces. I walk away, angry and yet glad that Holi has started early again for me.

41 Comments

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  • Nandan says:

    To add to list, in certain parts of UP and Bihar, people also play Holi with ‘Dry Flowers’. It would be interesting to know more on different Holi traditions from fellow Ghumakkars. This year the festival is on a Thursday so probably a good excuse to take a day off and head for your favorite Holi-daystination,

    Congratulations Professor Khamesra for everything.

    Congratulations SS. I think you are coming with a part 3 as well.

    • Vibha says:

      Thanks Nandan,

      Holi with “dry flowers”! Hmm.. have heard of it but never seen it. Are the flowers made into a powder or are they actually petals etc. They wouldn’t really leave a mark on one’s skin, would they?

      Can you share more about how the flowers are used?

    • Manish Khamesra says:

      Thanks Nandan. You know that its always a pleasure.

  • Happy Holi Everybody …………………

    Congratulations Manish on becoming featured Author. I am still recollecting and remembering your story on Patal Bhuvaneshwar…………….

    Featured story of month ” Ghumakkari – kuch khatti kuch meethi ” was a very well deserved.

    Congrats SS………………….

  • Giriraj Shekhawat says:

    Happy Holi to all the ghumakkars, Have fun with safe natural colors

    Congratulations Manish and Silent Saab ……… You deserve this honour

    • Vibha says:

      Thanks Giriraj. Very useful tip about using natural colours!

    • Manish Khamesra says:

      Thanks Giriraj. I saw references of “Annals and antiquities of Rajsathan by Col Todd” at many places.Its good to know that you have read it. I am sure we would have few interesting additions from the new learned ghumakkar joining us.

  • Mukesh Bhalse says:

    Wish all Ghumakkars a very happy Holi in advance……………………

    Heartiest Congratulations to Silent Sol ji for the Features story of Feb. 2012…………………

    Heartiest Congratulations to Manish Ji for being chosen as Featured author of March 2012……..

    A beautiful Poem on Holi by Dr. Harivansh rai Bachchan.

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  • D.L.Narayan says:

    Hearty congratulation to the erudite Mr. Khamesra on being accorded the Featured Author for the month of March. Eagerly looking forward to reading more about him.

    Congratulations to Silent Soul jee too for his brilliant Kuchh Khatti Kuchh Meethi series. It is one of those evergreen posts which will never lose their charm and one can never tire of reading them again and again.

    Last, but not the least, congratulations to the Editor, Ms. Vibha, on a typically effervescent, yet insightful and highly readable essay on the most colourful of festivals.

    Wishing all ghumakkars a very happy Holi.

  • Holi hai!!! from the table of editor ghumakkar.com.. Vibhaji tatha ghumakkar parivar ke pratyaik sadasya ko Holi ki rang bhari shubh kamnayen. Congratulations to Dr./Professor/wordsmith Manish Khamesra. Heartiest congratulations from the inner most core of heart to SS ji for featured story of the month,2012.

    • Vibha says:

      Thanks Tridev for your comments and wishes. Wish you a very happy holi too. :)

    • Manish Khamesra says:

      Tridevji

      Shukriya. I was wondering that can I ever do justice with the loving title Mahesh Semwal has fixed with my name and you are tripling it as if one was not enough.

      Thanks for the affection.

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  • SilentSoul says:

    Thanks the editors for selecting my post and my well-wishers for their comments ! Happy holi to all Ghumakkars…. 25 years out of India, we have forgotten about holi… sometimes NRI celebrate parties which are mainly a get together, some gulal and lot of booze and dances.

    Long ago, I happened to see holi in Amritsar, where they took “Tesu” flowers and soak them in water overnite and make a natural yellow color with a sweet fragrance. We must encourage such natural colors and on holi .

    Part of your post “With two parts published, the series is already over,” is taken as a decision of editors that this series must be ended…. so i will have to trash the next parts which i wrote for Ghumakkar.

    Thanks again and Happy Holi to all

    • Vibha says:

      Dear Silent Soul,

      First of all, Congratulations for your achievement.
      The part about the story ending was an assumption. If it is wrong then this is our mistake. If there are more parts, we will love to publish them. Hope to receive the next part soon.

      Natural colours made out of “Tesu” flowers sounds lovely. And I agree that we should encourage such colours.

      What do non-Indian Icelanders think of Holi? Do they participate in your celebrations?

      • SilentSoul says:

        Unfortunately, there are very few NRIs here, mostly students from Andhra and Maharasthra. They live in tight budget so no parties etc.

        I am planning a party this year on a Sunday after Holi, and hope those students will join, at least to taste the guzias and gulab jamuns cooked by us !

        But I have seen grand holi celebrations in Tripoli, where 2-3 Indian companies would arrange everything and we went there, enjoyed bhangra on Dhol, desi booze, jalebis etc prepared by the cooks of the company. The biggest gathering i saw was of 1500 people….libyans being jealous of us on our idiotic joys LOL.

        We celebrated holi in Edinburgh and paris too, but that was limited to a few families getting together and using gulal etc.

        Barsana holi, as you wrote, still has no parallel. But the old holi in Amritsar was great…as my family members told me.

        • SilentSoul says:

          Icelanders havent heard of this festival… and hopefully at least in my area, they will come to know of this if my planned holi party happens :)

        • vibha says:

          1500 people…wow. That’s some party SS. Would make anyone envious. Hope many students join your party this year. Spread the Holi fever amongst Icelanders. They need to have fun once in a while. :)

  • Vibha says:

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  • Ritesh Gupta says:

    “H.O.L.I H.A.I. !………”
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    Congratulations Professor Khamesra and SS ji for this achievement…

    Thanks..Happy Holi..

    • vibha says:

      ??? ???? ?? ????? ????? ????! ???? ?? ?? ???? ???? ???? ????? ??????? ????? ??, ?? ??????? ?? ?????

      ???? ?? ???? ?? ???? ???????????? :)

    • Manish Khamesra says:

      Hi Ritesh

      ???? ?????? ??? ?? ?? ??? ?? ?? ???? ??? ?? ??? ??? ???? ????? ???? ???? ??| I wish you celebrated Holi with equal enthusiasm.

      Thanks for your comment.

  • Kavita Bhalse says:

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  • vibha says:

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  • Tarun Talwar says:

    Congratulations Manish and Silentsoul ji. Well deserved.

    Vibha,

    For me, holi is an occasion of meeting and greeting friends and not -yet- friends. simple gulaal and great gujias is what I prefer on this day. Holi is one of the symbols of our culture and reminds us how colorful our country and its traditions are. I spent last two weeks in Paris which is indeed beautiful, but seems to lack colour like most western countries. Our holi with neela-peela-laal-gulabi will bring me back to senses.

    Happy Holi to all ghumakkars!

    • Manish Khamesra says:

      Thanks Tarun and happy holi. ???? ??????? ?? ?????? ?? ?? ???? ???? ?? ???? ??| ????? ???? ????????? ?? ???? ??, ???? ??? ?? ??? ? ?? ???? ??|

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Hi Vibha,

    Sorry for commenting late , as you know I was in south Africa for the last one week & due to limited access of Internet I was not able to go through your & others post.

    Wish you & all Ghumakkars a very happy Holi from very bottom of my Heart.

  • Manish Khamesra says:

    ???? ?? ?????????? ?? ???|

    As always a beautiful post Vibhaji and thanks for the honour (and also for such a GRAND introduction). Do I deserve it? Not Sure.

    Ghuamakkar is a family to me and its always a pleasure to share, and to know more together.

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