Ask anyone from India about Holi and the answer will be, ‘Colours. More colours. Wet colours. Dry colours.’ Holi is the one time when colours transcend their physical self and the shades of pink gulaal, crimson abir, and canary yellow powder take over our imagination.
It is all about colourful interactions with emotions. It is all about letting reservations and inhibitions rest for a while and allow the rowdy inner self to lead the moment.
I remember when I was in school I was mortally afraid of colours and so during Holi one was sure I had locked myself inside one of the bathrooms with a stack of novels to read. Holi was thus a boon to my reading habits… but then one year my parents showed me a tree and said, ‘This is the palash or tesu tree. The orange and the reddish orange flowers that you see are dried and then soaked in water and this is the colour that you can fill in your pichkari (water canon) to sprinkle during Holi.’
This connection of colours with plants fascinated me and that was one year that saw me standing on my first floor balcony with my bucket of saffron coloured water. It was exciting to fill my pichkari and let the spray surprise the small groups or ‘tolis’ of people who were coloured beyond recognition and dancing to the melody of harmoniums and the beat of the dhols that a few carried with them.
There are different ways of celebrating Holi and with so many States in India, the formats followed can be entirely different. There are specific pujas that can be performed where, for instance, Badkoolas (handmade from cowdung) are made and strung on a rassi (coconut fibre string). The cuisine has its own Holi-link with recipes that include sugarcane juice and dishes that include the inimitable dahiwada, poori, dried moong dal etc. So wherever one is during Holi, one is bound to get a refreshingly charming version of the festival.
Expedia travellers mostly travel to India from September to April, avoiding the Monsoon season from May to August – however this festival is celebrated on the Poornima (Full moon) of the month of Falgun – which means not only can you avoid peak season but also avail of great flight and hotel rates.