Holi is a festival of colors and group madness in India. People celebrate the departure of winter and onset of early spring and death of mythological Holika by lighting a bonfire on Holi eve. Holi is a much awaited festival for children. Water pistols and spray guns shaped like ray guns from science fiction abound and everyone has to be sporting about being sprayed with colored water or powder.
In some parts of India people virtually go mad rubbing color on each other. It is a time for fried food laced with bhang and milk and cane juice laced with bhang (paste made from cannabis leaves and flower buds) and whisky and beer. The Punjab is at the forefront as always when it comes to the beer and whisky drinking part.
Cities become riotous with boys riding around on scooters and motorcycles. Girls too join the fun. The police keep a close watch on the proceedings and some young men find themselves in custody when they get too familiar with unwilling girls. By lunchtime everyone is sozzled good and proper. Everyone of course means the celebrating populace. Ninety percent of the citizenry hides behind closed doors avoiding the messy powder and water colors.
Peace begins to prevail at about three in the afternoon. The rest of the day finds the roads slowly emptying of rejoicing people. Peace and calm prevail by evening.
Holi is like many world festivals that witness group madness. Examples being mud festivals in Spain, Switzerland, Michigan, Boryeong, South Korea; Garma festival in Australia; Haro wine festival in La Rioja region of Spain; La Tomatina in Italy where tomato fights abound on that day.
One more year before we hear the joyous shouts of ‘Holi Hai.’