Holi takes on different images and flavors across the country. While the bonfire is burnt everywhere, Krishna and Radha are courted mostly in Eastern India and along the eastern coast of Southern India in Tamil Nadu. Then there is the ‘ride of the King’ that is celebrated in the Western state of Gujarat, in Central India and in the tribal forests of Eastern India. This is a rite of passage where the King (an imaginary one) is paraded through the village and lampooned. Perhaps a way of pressure-release by the King’s subjects (again imaginary). And a story reflecting of repression and repeated quite inescapably and endlessly around the world. In the North Western state of Rajasthan, Holi is an occasion for tournaments wherein horsemen pelt each other with pellets filled with colour. Along the coastline of Maharashtra, which is a western state bordering the Arabian Sea, the men and women get together in a special dance that is meant to provide them with a release for all their repressed feelings, needs and desires. This is done by these people uttering sound through their mouths, made peculiar by the striking of their mouths with the back of their hands.



This is for them an occasion for ‘Bombne’ (yelling to one’s heart’s content). In Punjab, which is northern India its people hold wrestling tournaments, while at the other end of the spectrum of activity, virgins from Gujarat on India’s west create images of their Goddess ‘Gauri’ out of the ashes left by the bonfire of the night before. Conceivably, not the last variation of Holi is played along India’s eastern state of Orissa that straddles the Bay of Bengal. Here married women carefully sweep away the ashes of the bonfire, to mark the spot with drawings made out of a paste of powdered sundried rice and water.

Holi’s cultural affinity with West’s Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Holi is a play of colours celebrated amidst riotous mirth and merriment, just as Halloween is. The impossible attires worn at Halloween are delightfully significant of man’s continuing efforts at recreating new identities, just in the way that obliteration of identities are carried out at Holi through the smearing of the colours. Holi is also reminiscent of Thanksgiving and Christmas inasmuch as all these festivals are celebrated with one’s own kith and kin - never with strangers. After all, people all over the world cherish the same dreams and desires, no matter how narrow or broad the boundaries.

About Holi
Holi goodies
What we do on holi