Holi in India
Tomorrow, India will be celebrating festival of Badi Holi which is also known as Dhulendi! It is the most colorful festival of our country and it also marks the commencement of spring season. Children and elders can be seen smeared in colors and water balloons can come and hit from anywhere. Today was Choti Holi, where the holy fire was burnt (Holika Dahan) to relive the triumph of Lord Vishnu and Prahlad over Hiranyakashyap (one who thought himself to be God). As a kid, I would love hearing the story of evil ‘Holika’ (sister of demon king) and Prahlad. My mum would make variety of deliciousness and Gujiya. While Dad would play with dry colors, I always insisted on sprinklers and water colors. I would throw mugs of water on everyone who came near my house. I would also go to the park and play colours with the children in my neighborhood. With age, the fondness for water died down but I never stopped celebrating Holi even during my tenth and twelfth board exams. (The dates of these crucial exams always fall close to Holi). Mom does not go for elaborate menu but still makes Gujiya and Dad dresses up in white Kurta and pockets a packet of pink Gulal. Gradually, Holi has been losing its charm in the metropolitan cities. The fun and fervor has been reduced. For me, it has become only about exchanging greetings with Gulal (organic dry colors) and eating Gujiya. Also because in India, we are trying to spread the message that lets not waste water because there are many places in India where people die due to lack of water.
This is what I absolutely love about Holi – everyone looks alike and this reminds us that we are all the same. We are children of God and all these differences based on caste, religion, stature are done by us to harm us.
Songkran in Thailand
Now the most interesting part is that colors, water, sprinklers have always meant Holi to us but last year when I celebrated Songkran in Thailand, I was surprised to discover interesting similarities. Trust me the two festivals are like close cousins. In fact one can easily say ‘Songkran is the Holi of Thailand’. They call it water festival there. The festival is about drenching and drowning each other in water. Children play with sprinklers just like in India. Processions of people walk on the famous streets and celebrate Songkran which has been derived from the Sanskrit word ‘saṃkrānti‘ and it means transformation or change. In South East Asia, it is the time for New Year. In Chiang Mai, our guide had also told us that on this day, children poured water over the palms of elders and this was a way of paying respect to them. After this everything associated with it as colorful as our Holi. Children dress up in colorful dresses and head on to the streets where everyone splashes water on each other. The only difference was that nobody uses colors but I did see that some children had smeared faces. When I asked about it, I was told that it a paste made of sandalwood. Trust me, people play it in the most sober way. Last year, when I was there I couldn’t believe that Holi could be played in a sober way too. The streets were super crowded but no one behaved ugly or rowdy. Of course wastage of water is definitely one thing that put me off but as a whole the festival was great fun. After years, I had loved being drenched from head to toe. And I still remember the icy cold water.
Here are some pictures that will give you an idea what Songkran is all about and how it is celebrated. This year Songkran will be celebrated from 13th to 15th April 2016.
Songkran in Chiang Mai
Songkran in Bangkok (Silom Street)
This is the video that I made at Silom street. My guide talks in her native language to explain the fun of Songkran.
Happy Advance Songkran!