I am a Holi convert. I grew up hiding from the mess that was Holi. I had to be coaxed out to meet the string of uncles, aunties, didis and bhaiyyas who'd drop by to wish my parents. I would come out in a not-so-good-temper, allow them to colour me, offer them the mandatory mithais
that mum specialised in, then disappear into my hiding place wishing they'd leave me alone.
However one thing that had me excited was the food. My grandmoms would make huge boxes full of goodies. Days in advance they would sit along with my mum making gujhiyas
(which we called sohaals
) and dalmoth
. If you haven't had a gujhiya
fresh out of a kadhai
you've missed something in life. The hot khoa
spills out to fill your mouth right at first bite and the gujhiya
melts like a dream. My sister and I would pitch in sometimes. We'd sit armed with forks stabbing away at the matharis
. That's as much of our contribution as I could remember.
Then Hrit and Naisha happened and I moved to Bombay. Those were the two things that converted me. The twins, like all kids I suppose, are water fanatics. Give them water, any kind of water -- coloured water, plain water, clean water, dirty water, rain water, drain water and they can play for hours. Even at two years I well remember their awe at the idea that such a festival existed -- a day when mama who was forever screaming at them to stay way from water would let them splash around for hours.
And then there was Bombay. There's Holi and there's Bombay Holi. It's has nothing of the old world charm of a Lucknow Holi. It's noisy, boisterous, musical and very very wet. There would be huge sprinklers spewing water and a huger music system spewing the latest hits. People would dance with an abandon that was contagious. No protests would be valid and no one would be spared. There were no bystanders... everyone was a participant. That would be followed by a buffet lunch so we didn't have to spend our day in the kitchen.
Like it's said converts are the greatest fanatics... and so am I. I look forward to Holi each year with great anticipation, I bear with the kids (though not with good humour every time) when they want to change their clothes and jump back in the fray, I enjoy the colour, the water, the mess.
This year Naisha changed thrice. Each time she came home soaking wet, dripping colour, teeth chattering only to go back. The food has taken a beating though. I cook of course but not the real Holi stuff. I just can't get the hang of those gujhiyas
. It has to all come together.. the food and the colours to make the perfect Holi.. maybe next year... must master those gujhiyas
Edited to add: My sister tells me we did play some Holi when we were young. She doesn't remember much of the food though.. guess we're both differently wired.