For us, South Indians, holi festival is still new esp.for people who have never stayed outside their state in South India. Until a few years back, we knew about holi only via books, TV, film songs etc. We had seen some youngsters, esp. Hindi speaking people, roaming around with colours on their faces, hands and clothes.
I had the first taste of holi, when we were in Hosur. Hosur is an industrial town (border town of Tamilnadu and Karnataka). Many industries are there like Ashok Leyland, English Electricals, TVS and many many more. People from all over India came for working in these companies and had their families in the (mostly) housing board colonies. We too were like them. So, we had Maharashtrian, Gujarathi, Bengali friends, apart from people from Karanataka, Andhra, Kerala and Tamilnadu. My children too had classmates from different parts of India. So, we became familiar with different customs and rituals. Common language was Hindi and English. I learnt to make Maharashtrian cuisine and Gujarathi cuisine! Am familiar with a few Bengali cuisine too. We had a Bengali friend who invited us to Durga pooja (during Navarathri festival) prepared pooris fried in GHEE and channa without onion/garlic! I still remember the taste.
A Maharashtrian friend used to keep a huge Ganesha in her house during Ganesh Chaturthi and their Maharashtrian friends used to come and do bhajan and aarthi in her house. We used to join them and learnt to sing 'Ganpathi bappa moria' with them!
Learnt to make sweet pickle from a Gujarathi friend! In that way, we are lucky. If we had stayed in Chennai, we wouldn't have known/or come in contact with so many cultures. But on second thought, the times are changing and it is not like 20 years back. Thanks to IT industry, we come across the whole of India in our neighbourhood in Chennai itself plus Japanese and Koreans who work in the automobile industries. When we were children, after we shifted to Chennai from Udupi, my mother started celebrating Pongal at home, by making sweet pongal on the day of the festival! So, we gradually change according to the surroundings we have.
Well, now let me come back to holi festival. I joined the holi celebration with my Maharashtrian friend's family. I went to her house with my usual saree. As soon as she opened the door, I was covered with colour powders....people were standing inside and throwing colours on me! I was a bit taken aback. After a few minutes, I was normal and joined them! Children also had joined. When I came back home, walking on the road (it was a housing colony and very few people were playing holi there) and entered my house, my husband was shocked to see me full of different colours! Everything was new to us. I still remember the way I enjoyed playing like children, throwing colours at others. Can't imagine doing so at our circle!
I forgot to tell one thing, we used to hear Amitabh singing the holi song at least
5-6 times in the radio, TV etc. on the day of the Holi and do so even now!
And this song too!
Shahnaz Husain has given some handy tips to enjoy the festival without damaging one's skin and hair in today's 'The Hindu'(click here pl.) newspaper. It should be very useful.
Enjoy the colourful festival!
Holi photo courtesy: Google