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If you are listening to the popular cry ‘bura na mano, Holi hai’ and have had your clothes soaked because of a water balloon hurled at you out of nowhere or got your face and dress smeared with colored powder, it’s that time of the year when people celebrate spring and the promise of a new life by smearing each other with colors of love.

Yes, we are talking about Holi, the festival synonymous with exuberant joy expressed through throwing of colors and water balloons, spirited music, dances and partying.

But with COVID caseload witnessing a spike again, the prospects of witnessing such enthusiasm remained bleak.

While the shops selling ‘gulal’, water guns, traditional ‘pichkaaris’ and water balloons are not as visible as they used to be in the past, and curbs imposed on people’s gatherings in the midst of COVID-19 resurge, threaten to act as a dampener on the festive mood synonymous with Holi, Indians are known for finding ways and means to rejoice come what may! Celebrated at the beginning of the vernal equinox, falling on the Phalguna Purnima, Holi is one of the most awaited and fervently commemorated festivals of India. Marked since the past several centuries, the fiesta also memorializes legends related to the divine love of Radha and Krishna.

The festival is also equated with yet another celebration of love as it proffers people opportunities to mend broken relationships, besides allowing strangers to befriend each other and bridging social gaps. Bollywood songs as ‘Holi Ke Din Dil Khil Jate Hain’ (Sholay) and ‘Rang Barse’ (Silsila), besides a host of others, lend voice to the amicable verve of this festival. Despite its predominant Indian origins, the fervor of Holi has also attracted people from parts of South Asia and other countries.

It has come to be observed as a celebration of spring in parts of Europe and North America. Holi is also celebrated with immense fervor in Nepal and other parts of the world inhabited by people of Indian origin.

The celebrations begin on the eve of the festival with the lighting of a bonfire called Holika Dahan marking the legend of the destruction of Holika, the sister of the demon king Hiranyakashipu, by fire. The day of Holi is marked by a riot of colours with people smearing and drenching one and all including strangers with colours, water balloons and water guns. However, with water wastage and adulteration being major causes of concern worldwide, the modern celebrations mainly include the use of dry, chemical free colored powder. People visit their kin and friends to wish them on the occasion, while groups of youngsters, colored from head to toe, can be seen sauntering across the streets with drums and musical instruments.

With the festivities associated with nearly all traditional and personal commemorations going virtual due to COVID mutations, it is quite likely that this year’s Holi too would be an online affair, but, considering the party-loving nature of the Indians, only time will tell whether the spirit of love and life or COVID will win the battle.

About the author:
Shaheen P. Parshad

Shaheen P. Parshad She holds a master degree in journalism and mass communication. She has worked as a journalist in national English dailies and currently works as a public relations professional.

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