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SIFY PEOPLE AND PLACES:
The festival of Holi begins on Duwadashi - on the twelfth day of the waxing moon
of the month of Phalgun. Three days before the full moon, Rang Pashi brings Holi
into all households.
Spirits run high as the preparations for the festivities begin, as a custom,
mothers make new clothes for their married daughters. Coloured powder (Gulal) is
bought and prepared, long syringes called `pichkaris` are made ready and water
balloons are bought and filled.
Preparations are made to cook the special food items exclusively meant for this
festival. The families get together in the evenings when people visit each other
to perform the formal sprinkling of colour.
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Rituals of Holi
Three days before the full moon, `Rang Pashi` brings Holi into all
households. To begin the celebrations, a `thali` or plate is arranged with
coloured powders and coloured water is placed in a small brass container called
a `lota`. The eldest male member of the family begins the festivities by
sprinkling coloured water and powders on each member of the assembled family. It
is then the turn of the younger ones to do the same. In this unique way,
affection and blessings are shared by all in the family. The celebrations on
this day end with the partaking of food specially cooked for this occasion -
gujjia, papri and kanji ke vade. Sometimes, meat dish like kofta curry is also
served. It is customary to serve drinks before the meal.
The next day is known as `Puno`. On this day, Holika is burnt in keeping with
the legend of Prahlad and his devotion to lord Vishnu. In the evening, huge
bonfires are lit on street corners at the crossroads. Usually this is a
community celebration and people gather near the fire to fill the air with folk
strains and dances. Sheaves of green gram and wheat are roasted in the bonfire
The actual festival of Holi takes place the day after this. This day is called
`Parva`. Children, friends and neighbours gather on the streets and a riot of
colour takes over. Coloured powders called `abeer` or `gulal` are thrown into
the air and smeared on faces and bodies. `Pichkaris` are filled with coloured
water and this is spurted onto people. Water balloons are thrown at friends and
neighbours in the spirit of fun. Sometimes, mud baths are prepared and people
are `dunked` into this amidst much laughter and teasing.
The visitors carry `abeer` or `gulal` to pay their respects to elders by
sprinkling some on their feet. The younger crowd is drenched with buckets of
coloured water and pummeled with water balloons. `Dholaks` or Indian drums are
heard everywhere and the songs of Holi are carried by the voices of these
merry-makers. There is no `puja` or worship associated with this festival of
colours. Some `gulal` or `abeer` is smeared on the faces of the Gods, especially
Krishna and Radha, at the commencement of the festivities.