Holi is known as the festival of colours and is undoubtedly the most fun-filled and boisterous of all the festivals in India. It is an occasion that is full of fun and frolic, music and dance, food and drink and of course, lots of bright colours! During Holi, men, women and children take to the streets, squirting coloured water on passers-by and each other; friends are dunked into pools of water and even mud, with a lot of teasing and laughter. The older generation prefer to get intoxicated on ‘bhaang’ which is acceptable on this occasion or a couple of beers, this is the time the sun is back for the season and everyone wants to bask in it.
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Holi is essentially the advent of spring, when nature is in full bloom, frost is receding and the warmth in the air is changing all the colours of the flora. A lot of traditionalists still believe that Holi was celebrated to ward of the cold, by applying colours nature was acknowledged as renewed and refreshed and by throwing water, the long days of winter related avoidance of water were over. It was time to shed the warm clothes, step into the sun and enjoy a long, communal bath filled with the colours of nature.
All you need in order to celebrate Holi is friends, food, drinks and lots of colour. The colours of Holi, called ‘gulal’, were made at home till a few decades ago. The flowers of the ‘tesu’ or ‘palash’ tree, also called ‘the flame of the forest were collected from the forest and spread out on mats, to dry in the sun, and then ground to fine dust. The powder when mixed with water made a beautiful saffron-red dye. Purple was extracted from beetroots and yellow from turmeric. Today natural colours have made a comeback and people are often encouraged to make their own colours too. All in all, holi is a day full of warmth, love and fun, it should not be missed!