Saturday, February 27, 2010

Holi Aayee Re !

Festivals have this strange power in creating an emotional riot.It could leave you exited,sad,nostalgic,restless and even lost.So this sums up my feelings as yet another Holi arrives bringing with itself so much more.
But keeping all the other feelings sidelined i would like to proclaim that nowhere can holi be as intense and as elaborate as in my Bihar.i fail to recall the exact time but remember this that the season itself called Falgun would start with playing holi not on a paricular day but each day as and when the time permitted.This region called Bhagalpur where i hail from, nobody would take the risk of wearing new or expensive clothes and instead will try to wear only those which one was eager to discard.
All the joking relationships like Devar and Bhabhi,Jeeja and Sali,Nanad and Bhabhi,between both the Samadhi reached it's pinnacle during Holi.
In our system we have what is called the joking relationships where healthy but harmless flirtations are allowed.These flirtations could range from simple teasing to being risque.But it was legit and it would be holi when you would get to witness these in full splendour.So none would be spared and if one got annoyed it would be dismissed casually by saying-"Bura na mano holi hai"(Don't feel bad it's just holi fun). Everything would be forgiven and forgotten later.Only when you get to stay in Bihar or Uttar Pradesh can you get the true feel of these relationships where :

1. Devar=Husband's younger brother and
Bhabhi=wife of elder brother are allowed to tease and flirt
2. Jeeja=Elder sister's husband and
Sali=wife's younger sister mostly unmarried are allowed the same priviledge
3. Nanad=husband's sister
Bhabhi=wife and both belonging to the same sex can indulge in fanciful and lewd teasing
4. Samadhi=both sides parents refer to each other as Samadi so the lady mom of the girl's side called Samadhin could tease the father called samadhi of the boys side and vice versa.
As kids we would clap and jump in joy and cheer the winning side even though much that passed between the two opposing sides we couldn't understand.But being in the hot seat much later i too had my share and so did my husband when he gleefully had fun during holi with my younger sis and i had with his younger twin bros and our parents amongst themselves.i am now lost because none of my friends who hail from the South can exactly share my joy and revelry about this.The senior ladies here can never guess why i preferred calling them Akka (elder sister in Tamil) instead of anything else, when and if they accepted me in their coterie.

Thinking about the holi specials no matter how hard i try i don't know why my malpuas (deep fried eggless pancakes made simply or richer with it being soaked in sugar syrup) don't taste as good as when i had it back home.And i silently curse myself for being so detached about cooking then to learn the spicy and yummy mutton to go with the dry puas (the faintly sweet but salty Malpuas) or never bothered to learn the aaloo ka achaar (boiled potato pickle spicy and tangy with the distinct flavour of mustard ) to go with it.i have honed my skills in preparing Dahi wadas (lentil dumplings dipped in yoghurt and served topped with sweet and sour tamarind paste called imli ki chutney) but i still don't know how to prepare the other dumplings which used to be in a sweet and sour watery solution.These used to be ligher on the palate and very 'finger licking good'. So my family gets to have somehow managed holi specials of Chole (spicy chickpeas) which replaces aloo ka achaar,Malpuas,Dahi badas,and mutton which lacks that unique taste.
Maybe someday soon i will convince myself to make my journey back home in that village which resounded with the songs of Fag (Folk songs sung during entire Falgun season)with the start of the season.If not for anything but for Holi specials.Jogira Sara Rara rings in my ears to the beat of Dhol (a kind of drum) and cymbals as i get this strong calling which kindles a sad longing.Sad because with so many rituals going extinct and the villages losing their originality i wonder if i can witness the same.
i wonder if holi goes on for days as it used to, culminating with the last couple of days of rapture and joy called Dhurandi,Holika Dahan,Choti Holi and finally Holi.
Will i get to hear the folk song in local Angika(regional dialect) which told the story that though Holika was offered a boon for performing austerities she was burnt alive because her heart was not pious and and she lacked the inner purity whereas Prahlad was saved because of his piety and his faith in God?
To my friends who respond with thank you calls and compliments i always end up repeating "was my pleasure but you didn't get to taste the original".i often get restless then before cooking if everything will turn out the way i would want it to and knowing the answer very well will still go ahead and take the plunge.Is it the spirit of holi that gets me going then?

What is this about holi that gets you excited i could never explain.Is it the colours?Is it the fun?Is it the food? Maybe it is these and a lot more.That nature is at it's best with all colours blossoming signalling to celebrate this oneness.It definitely is a spirit in us that banishes all discriminations.A spirit that combines joy, naughtiness, passion and enthusiasm.Also like all our festivals it tells us that "truth is universal" and also reminds us in this age of strife that "Goodness triumphs over evil". No one can deny that the essence of Holy is Harmony.So let this Holi be that one in which we change "not only the colour of faces but also the colour of our hearts"."Let the colour that truly penetrate our beings, be the colour of God".

And just to get that feel... however this may not actually be the Fag i talked about,here is a bhojpuri song of that teasing between Devar and Bhabhi where the Devar teases her for sleeping carelessly while the dog ate the holi special pua and the left over milk was drunk by the cat.As a result now there's nothing to eat.


  1. Nice post. Missing Holi very much this year.

    But the feeling of Spring is in the air. As Amir Khusro wrote over 800 years ago -
    "Sisam kat hathan pichkaari
    More aagan Holi khelan aayo!"

  2. Excellent post. Got to know a lot about Holi and how it is celebrated in UP and Bihar. Here in the gulf there is hardly any celebration, though we do meet up and remember the nostalgic moments of yesteryears. Here’s wishing you and family a fabulous Holi.

  3. @milkmiracle thanks for reading and glad that u are missing it.u are blessed! at least u know that joy that thrill and u miss it.:)
    @Tandarin that u liked and shared my Bihar with me you made my day.Thank u and did u know this was just some part of it.i sincerely wish i could've made u listen to the's awesome how the beat of the Dhol- Dhik Dhik Chak reaches the crescendo...Alas!

  4. Thanks Shivani once again. I will google 'Fag' and see whether I get to know this drum beat. Will let you know if I get somewhere.

  5. i seriously doubt as i searched in vain and since i've misspelt it as Fag if u do search do it by using FAAG instead.That's how it's pronounced.Thanx again :)