Holi-then and now

Let’s begin this post dramatically.

I hate Holi.

I hate it from the bottom of my heart. Of the gazillions of festivals in this county, it’s the only festival I don’t like and therefore never celebrate. I cannot understand the joy behind colouring each other in multiple hues, throwing water and generally making a royal mess. And then spending gallons of water and loads of time and energy to clean up the royal mess. The food is a high point of the festival I admit, but other than that tell me one good thing about the festival.

When I walk down memory lane, I can recall playing Holi exactly twice in my lifetime and hating it on both occasions. Once when I was little and was visiting my grandparents the neighbourhood kids and my grandparents were extremely keen on getting me involved in the whole Holi hullabaloo. I was happy sitting in the comforts of the house watching other’s play but my grandmother wanted me to “be a child” and “have fun”. Being a child was something I couldn’t help and “fun” was subjective concept. In my understanding Holi as I had witnessed it on a few occasions earlier was not fun. Inspite of all the protesting and pouting, I was pushed out of the house. Four hours later I came back- wet, tired, silver and unhappy. I had wanted to escape right on the 12th minute of leaving home but the other children wouldn’t let me go. “Aunty has asked us to make you play” they said. And as aunty was as old as their grandmother, disobeying her was out of the question. Thus whether I liked it or not I was officially a part of the under 12 Holi gang. They had adopted me and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it.  The under 12 Holi gang interacted with other Holi gangs, most of them over 12 years of age and on some kind of festive high. I tried to hang back, let the other members of my gang take centre stage but they wouldn’t let me. Aunty’s instructions must have been strict or sacrosanct or both. When all strategies of escaping and not playing failed, I resigned to my fate. Which essentially met I let other pour colour and water and coloured water over me. At the end of the “fun” festival I was annoyed, exhausted and yucky looking. The silver colour wouldn’t go easily and I rubbed my face to a bright pink in my ardent effort to get rid of it. Ditto for the red on my feet, the green on my arms and the purple on my palms. For me the festival was a real let down. It wasn’t fun in the least bit.  I am sure grandmother dearest was, in all her good intentions, trying to help turn me into an extrovert, bubbly, chatty kid so I don’t really blame her for throwing to at the mercy of the “fun loving” kids. But good intentions aside, I hated the festival. I ended up a bit like she wanted me to but more as a course of natural progression and not as a result of participating in horrid Holi celebrations.

Episode 2 of Holi happened around age 14. It wasn’t as traumatic as the first one but it wasn’t fun either. I mean I went out with a sane group of people who indulged in a mild version of the festival that has gone kinda berserk if you have bothered to noticed, but I dint enjoy it. Where was the fun element in spending all morning painting faces in attractive shades of reds, yellows and blues?? There must be something wrong with me because everyone else seemed to be really enjoying themselves. I find Diwali more exciting than this. Anyway, that was the last time I ever played Holi. I usually stay at home on Holi, lock the door and don’t entertain any neighbourhood kids. They look so sweet and innocent I tell you, but they are little devils in the garb of angels. The year we moved to Bombay innocent looking cute kiddos knocked on our door bright and early in the morning. Idiots that we are we opened it wide enough for an elephant to get through. A few seconds later the kids had covered us completely  in gulal, much to their delight and out shock. Since then I have adopted a closed door policy for the morning half of the day.

I walked to my gym last evening carefully sidling along the edge of the pavement and walking under the cover of tree wherever available. I was being extra cautious with the devil in the garb of angles.  Thwack! A water balloon hit me precisely on the neck. Good thing it didn’t burst, just bounced off and fell to the ground and exploded. I have a strange neck  I think-water balloons don’t burst, they bounce off! I spotted the little devil who had threwn the balloon and went after him. I couldn’t catch him- smartpants ran into the building and before he could I gave him a piece of my mind. Not that he cared, but I told him (and other kids who were hanging around indulging in an early round of Holi) that what he did was not fun. It was in fact dangerous.

This is the part of Holi that I strongly dislike. Playing Holi can be fun if it is within sensible, rational limits. But playing in a manner that harms others is just not done. Parents who let their young kids play unsupervised (as that group of balloon attackers were) at putting their own kids and others at risk. Festivals aren’t supposed to hurt or injure. They are happy times and we shouldn’t be doing anything that takes even the smallest part of that happiness away.

But anyway, I am sure you won’t let me put a damper on your festive sprits. So while I hide at home  and  read Calvin, all you enthu cutlets have a happy and safe Holi.



 Edited to add: Abha’s comment forced me to add this strip. I had left it out earlier thinking it was clutttering the post. Here is it now, all thanks to Abha!:)


33 thoughts on “Holi-then and now

  1. Mandira, Great Calvin and Hobbes cartoon- very suitable for Holi!. Seems to be a universal affliction. 🙂

    😀 took some time to hunt for that one.. but it fits well na?

  2. I remember throwing balloons with water in mumbai !!

    its fun !!


    yea its not fun if you are the one walking on the streets !! but otherwise its great fun !!!!

    i too hate this festival and always say i m not gonna play… but eventually once friends come and we all get dirty…

    its okay…

    no i hope this festival wouldnt come but it invariably comes !! and its yuck but its fun too !!

    haaw!! u were like those kids?!!:o it can be fun, but it isnt for me!

  3. oh i used to be like u… used to hate hate hate holi’s but then once in college i started playing holi with friends together and now this is one festival i look forward to 🙂 I love it

    its actually a lot of fun if played decently with good colors

    decent colours and decent ppl..both rare according to me.. but if u love holi,i shall send over a packet of gulal myself!:D

  4. I completely agree.. I hate the festival!

    But, eventually I know all friends will drag me out to play and how long can one protest with the water conservation dialogues!

    lol..water conservation dialogues never work in such situations..

  5. my sympathies on thrust-upon-holi-celebrations mandy! me have no interest in holi, no kids in vicinity, no pesky friends to drag me out…am i lucky or wat?! 🙂
    me wakes up reaaaaaalyy late, watch technicolour ppl moving about from my window n retire to treating this as any other off from work…Happy Holi to everybody n happy day off to mandy n me! 🙂

    yes yes!! happy holiday to u n me!!! the rest of the world can paint the town red, pink, blue and silver for all i care!

  6. LOL@C&H
    good one!
    and yeah agree completely that it should be played sensibly..which is why I cant decide if I dislike Holi or like it.. 🙂
    depends on whom I am with and what are the colours being used..and no water balloons..

    Here’s to your coming out of hiding and celebrating it the natural colours way 🙂

    oh no, indyeah, im still hiding..no intentions of coming out soon, i promise u!!

  7. 🙂 You have written it beautifully..lol..I can’t belive you wne t after the kid.. Even if we catch them,their parents will start attcking you fro spolign their kids fun mood 😉

    lol,no worries,don’t celebrate holi…

    I thought holi was great (i never celebrated it,we in south ,regardless of religion,have no such festival 🙂 )

    the kids parents werent even around..irresponsible ppl!!!no holi u said? i declare south india is the place to be!!

  8. omg!! my grandparents kept me inside when i wanted to go out!!! do kids always want the opposite??? hehe

    yeah, it is an annoying festival considering how much water u waste cleaning up et al. but still if u play in a restricted environment with family and friends and have a good time with food and music, it should alright i guess. i’ve never played holi in my life … so i wouldn’t know. :/

    we are such opposites..at least in terms of our childhood! come visit india again and play holi…then tell us if u like it.

  9. Oh! there is my Calvin again. Cutie pie!

    Mandu, I HATED Holi too. I have played it very rarely and at the most allowed people to put some color on face but after moving to US, I have longed for all festivals and among that Holi too. This weekend we are having a fun Holi party with washable colors and all.


    Happy Holi anyways! 🙂
    i shud move to USA… to appreciate festivals better!!lol..washable colours are cool.wudnt mind playing with those

  10. yea.. i totally agree with what you’ve said…
    I don’t like playing with colours and dirtying myself either!

    Anyways, Happy Holi!!

    and the cnH Cartoon is so totally apt! 🙂

    aaah!! now i think i like u a little more! happy holi to u too!

  11. i luurrvvee holi! and miss it terribly in bangalore. plan to take Cubby to bombay next year and least know holi exists!

    i loved getting coloured and colouring! ditto for water! and then stand shivering waiting for bathroom to get khaali so that you can have bath! and then run to have garam samosas, the mithai and thandai! oh! those were the days!

    and i think anything if goies outta hand is not fun! festival or not!

    our bldg, no one was allowed those metallic colours and paints. reular stuff that gets washed off in a coupla days!

    and the left over colour on everyones hands at work and everywhere else! niicce! 😀 me likey!


    lol! super enthu cutlet u are abha!! its nice to see ppl like u!im quite the spoilt sport in this matter.. im sure cubby wud love holi to, u love it so much, why wudnt he??:D

  12. oh and i love the CH! i like the other one with calvin, water baloon and Hobbes! 😀
    check the post again.. i think i found the CnH u were looking for.

  13. sad you had to go through that! i was not a very big fan of playing holi but happened to play it every year all through my school days… haven’t touched colors since 8 yrs now and dont see any more chances coz i am in the US now… 🙂

    so u miss it now,dont u?it can(sometimes) be fun..

  14. I never played Holi as such mainly because there most of the kids in the complex were older and also because, to some extent, my parents did not approve of all the hungama that goes on in the name of Holi. So, I can’t say if I like Holi or not – but I think those harsh, impossible-to-get-rid-of colors should definitely be banned. And the celebrations should not be thrust upon anyone who don’t want to participate. Nice post.

    ur parents are wise ppl , i tell u!! they play holi like hooligans nowadays. and yes, it shud be voluntary not a force on zabardasti festival!

  15. oh i kind of miss holi…used to love playing with friends….

    The CnH cartoons are really funny 🙂

    Happy Holi!

    happpppy holi to u n N too ,nidhi!!

  16. i forgot to mention the part i miss most about holi is the gujjiya 😀

    yup, like i said the only good part of the festival is the food..gujjiya being the most imp member of that category.:D

  17. I felt really great reading this post… At-least, there’s someone else who has the same feelings about Holi…

    I don’t like Holi much.. especially when it is played with strong colors…

    I rather like the smear-some-gulal-for-ritual-purpose version… 🙂

    oh yeah, worry not , u arent alone in ur hatred there…gulal is fine with me.. as long as u dnt mix it up with water to make a yucky paste!!!

  18. I wonder when would someone start packaging holi into a carnival…..isn’t this an indianised version of Carnival……

    Wish we could do it to attract willing enthusiasts to come and celebrate….

    Imagine the kind of publicity Rio generates for its carnival…..what can happen if Holi becomes one too…..we will have carnival in every Indian city of town……huhhh is that something like askin for the moon!

    lol.. yes it is…and u have a fabulous imagination!holi as a carnival!

  19. I detest colors on holi. All the excuses to be rowdy- I just hate them. In the hills it was always dry, but I hated dry colors alos- the dust and the itch. But oh, give me gujiyas anytime… i love those…

    so i see im not alone in my hatred for holi and love for gujjia!

  20. I dont mind the celebration on the day itself…its the pelting of the balloons which starts days in advance which used to irritate me no end!

    oh i hate that too.escaped 3 balloon attacks this time

  21. It sounds nice in theory, but practice- ugh.
    We just have a tiny ritual bit at home, as here the home help comes and touches feet and applies colour- so its too much of a hassle to refuse. And of course they are iven tips. What I love about Holi are the songs- Horis are really really awesome.

    i think im ok with rituals like that,anything more n i have a problem.

  22. 🙂 a chain of mails has been going around between a few of us about the campus holis. and how much we miss birbee (i think she hated holi more than u if thats even possible!)

    im not a great fan of the festival but neither do i hate it. i think with the right people it has potential to be fun!

    now i think im in love with birbee!! potential fun? yeah may be..

  23. how can CnH EVER be clutter?!! and yes this was on my mind! there is one more too! leme hunt! 😀


    oh ok…hunt and put it up on ur blog,k?

  24. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for posting this. I hate holi too!!! I have had to go as far as warning people that I will rip their arms off, and on one occassion actually getting close to doing it, to stop folks from putting colours on me.

    aaha! i see i have found another holi hater!brilliant!

  25. the latest on baking buddies eh. u take my tips a step further. u sneaky u. hehe jk 😀

    post karoo abhi!!

    see there is no point in learning, if u cant take it fwd,rt? thanks for the tip on the widget roop… wil post when an idea strikes..no ideas coming ya…

  26. And I almost thought I was the sole holi hater in the world – thankfully I live in big bad Chennai now – no more balloons, no more sinister red faces

    no no u arent the only one?can i move in with u, please?

  27. hey great calvin cartoon….fits perfectly here …man how did u find it….?

    holi, hmm we dont celebrate in south actually so till I went to university I never knew how to celebrate it…and i think its good fun when one is at a hostel/univ with friends but one thing i used to hate is guys used to drink something on name of festival….and at univ, girls hostels were locked till 12 in the afternoon…and actually we dint feel any problem coz we used to njoi a lot with all girls in the compound!

    took a bit of hunting..but eventually found a strip that matched the post.:D and yeah, the drinking can get ugly… but i wud generally tend to agree with holi being fun with friends..

  28. Hey! 🙂
    Nice post! Loved the cartoons! 🙂 🙂
    I don’t really like holi either, I don’t mind the getting wet bit but I hate the colour, you’ll look coloured for weeks after that! Besides I’m allergic 😦 So I’ll really be coloured if I try playing, so NO playing at all…
    Also a lot of people throw eggs! I hate them… Yuck!

  29. Hahaha, the cartoon strip was really good.
    Well Mandy, join the club, I am one who doesnt like this festival, Have had two harrowing experiences. So now I just enjoy a chutti in the festival not the festival in the chutti.
    And wow, your gym was open? Mine found an excuse in Holi to close it.

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