Holi hai...

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MAGIC OF GULAL Children smear each other with coloured powder
MAGIC OF GULAL Children smear each other with coloured powder

Although away from homes, north Indian communities relive the spirit of Holi every year in twin cities of Vijayawada and Guntur. Harjeet Kaur Allagh and P. SAMUEL JONATHAN find out how

The sight of Holi revellers revs up the surroundings that exude an air of merriment. Holi is the time to reconnect with the child in you - to break into child-like gurgles with smudged faces. People move out in tolis and apply colour on each other till they become unrecognizable. The festival is celebrated in some pockets of the twin cities of Vijayawada and Guntur with gusto that is seen in north Indian cities. For the north Indian communities in these two cities, it is a day full of masti. The Gujaratis in Vijayawada gather in the Gujarati school in One Town and get dunk in a gooey mud pool before beginning the romance with colours. Dina Shah, a teacher, says: "After the squirting of colours, a sumptuous spread is laid out to appease the hungry palates." The no-holds-barred enjoyment and singing on a high, a la Amitabh in Silsila... , is helped by the liberal serving of drink mixed with Bhaang (Cannabis). For the festivities at Sindhu Bhavan, everyone is welcome to join. Neelam, a teenaged Sindhi girl, points out: "Young and old alike join in the celebrations at the Sindhi Bhavan right from early morning." Says Shyam Keswani, a young businessman: "The zest and verve with which it is celebrated is contagious."The small Sikh community in Gurunanak Colony turn the area into a small town of Punjab. Children and youngsters assemble on the streets and throw Gulal in the air and smear them on everybody's faces. "At the end of the day, it is very difficult to get the children remove the colours from their bodies and I can barely recognise them," says Sapna, the mother of two boisterous kids.For the 500-and-odd closely-knit enterprising Marwadi families of Guntur, Holi is the time for celebration and reunion. While adults enjoy their cup of Bhaang, women keep themselves busy preparing a variety of sweets. "Holi has become a true pan Indian festival transcending all the barriers of religion and caste, and it is celebrated all over Guntur now," points out Boob Leeladhar, an active organiser of the festivities and proprietor of B.S & Company.Despite fast-faced modern life, young and old alike wait eagerly for the day. The celebrations usually kick off in the evening before the day of the festival. Families gather at Satyanarayana Swamy Temple in R. Agraharam for a massive get-together and draw plans for revelry. The Holi-eve day starts on a conventional note with a visit to the temple. Newborn babies are brought to the temple, where a ceremony called `Dhood' is organised. The families gather for the evening ceremony, where they burn the Holika, a practice sanctified by an ancient legend. The real celebrations begin on the next morning, as revved up youngsters zoom on their bikes, painting the town red, literally, by splashing the colours on passers-by. "We buy synthetic colours in the local market two days in advance, for using them dry and also to mix water,'' says Vikas Jain, a pan broker in Brodipet. The adults do not lag behind. Gulping down Bhaang, they soak each other in colour. Sweetmeats like Moong Dal Seera, Lapsi and wheat flakes are relished on the occasion. "It used to be far more vibrant in the past. We used to have a large tub of coloured water, where men and women splashed colours at each other,'' recalls Vikas Jain, walking down the memory lane. But the festival seems to have been caught in a time warp. "The present day youth do not understand the significance of the festival. They do not follow all the rituals, but they do not miss out on the splashing of colours either,'' says Tarachand Jain of Brodipet.




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