Wednesday, March 19, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Colourful water and love
Aditi Tandon

We have long heard about the legend of Holi — about the victory of Prahlad over Holika, whose evil designs are burnt to ashes in the divine flames. Whereas Holi and its history have long been written about, very little is known about how Holi derived its colourful face.

In the backdrop of Holi’s colours lies another tradition, another legend which stems from the childhood of Krishna. Though of much later origin, still, on this legend rests in the pre-Christian era. Hindu belief has it that Krishna was a reincarnation of Lord Vishnu himself. It was Krishna, the king of the ancient city of Dwarka, who popularised the tradition of Holi. The origin of the colourful and frolicking tone of Holi lies in the boyhood of Krishna. It all came up as part of his pranks he used to play with his boyhood friends of Gokul and Vrindavan.

Situated in North India, these are the places where Krishna spent his childhood. It was at this time of year, Krishna used to play around, drenching village girls with water and colours. The prank that began in the spirit of play assumed a legendary tone and gradually the gopis started enjoying the game of water and of love. It did not take long for other boys to join in, making this prank a popular sport in the village.

As Krishna grew in years, the dimensions of the play also changed. Holi came about to be identified with Krishna, who made it historic by linking the game to Radha, his love. The legend of Krishna’s courtship with Radha, and playing pranks with the ‘gopis came to be the hallmark of Holi. The tradition travelled from one age to another and turned into a public festival, which means to destroy all hardship. As years passed by, Holi became a cultural reality of India. So much so that Holi, its images (with Krishna outplaying Radha and other gopis) became the subject of consideration for painters, who documented Holi in their works, for musicians of all Indian classical music gharanas who gave birth to a new tradition of Holi singing,

Hundreds of classical music compositions, murals, paintings and scriptures tell the tale of this community festival and the spirit behind it.


Show your true colours
Monica Sharma

ALL you boys and girls, show your true colours to friends living miles and miles away, the ones you used to play Holi with. They have left the city, no problem. Send them a Holi special greeting card.

You may find it hard to believe, but the card shops scattered all over Chandigarh are full of such greeting cards. This is not all. You can buy customised greeting cards for almost everyone — right from mummy, daddy, brother, sister or, well, even your beloved. “Each card has been specially designed, keeping in mind the age and the nature of the receiver,’’ says Raman Mohan, working with a card and gift shop in Sector 17.

Giving details, he asserts: ‘’For the loved ones, there are romantic greeting cards with a lot of emotions mingled with the spirit of the occasion. As far as the friends are concerned, there are humorous cards with a lot of jokes. Cards that will not only make them smile, but actually laugh’’.

He adds: ‘’For the not so young, we have serious cards. Ones that merely convey good wishes. Some cards even have satchels of colours pinned to the sheet. The reason is evident. Along with best wishes you can also sent colours to the receiver’’.

A new trend that has emerged this year, a card shop salesman Neeraj Sharma explains, is the presence of a large number of Hindi cards. “Such cards were available in the market last year also, but there was hardly any variety. You had one or two cards with ‘Holi hai’ printed across the sheet,” he reveals. “This year things are fortunately different. You can pick up the one of your choice from at least a dozen cards displayed in glass counters”.

Explaining the trend, Neeraj asserts: “Until a few years ago, you had cards for Christmas, New Year, Divali and for success in examinations, or else for apologising. Then came cards for Saint Valentines Day. Soon the printers realised that youngsters were an important segment, the core customers. Immediately, the publishing houses launched cards for Teachers’ Day and for Parents’ Day”.

He further explains : ‘’They also realised another thing. If cards for festivals and occasions alien to our culture and tradition can sell, why not print cards with good wishes for our own festivals. So Holi cards came into being. As it is not a ‘western concept’ cards were printed in Devnagri also”.

The price of the cards varies from Rs 8 to Rs 20.The ones with love messages are comparatively expensive. “Perhaps, our cards companies believe that lovers are more willing to pull out the notes than not-so-sentimental people,”he said.



Holi charm at Jumbo Circus
Ruchika M. Khanna

Tribune News Service

A perfect confluence of different cultures will be witnessed during Holi celebrations amidst a riot of colours in Panchkula. The young and old, Hindus and Muslims, North Indians and South Indians, over-ruling age, religion and regional divide, will celebrate this festival of colours in its true spirit at Jumbo Circus, currently showing in the township.

As the entire nation gets hooked to the Ayodhya temple debate, men, women and children, all from different religions and diverse regions, will set a perfect example of unity in diversity by celebrating one of the biggest festivals of North India. Celebrations have been planned for over a week now and the employees are excited to celebrate the festival in all its traditional fervour and gaiety.

With employees from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu, Nepal, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerela and Karnataka, all festivals are celebrated together. But Holi has a special place in each heart, “...because this is the only festival where one can be footloose and fancyfree”, say the employees of the circus.

Chaman Lal, the oldest joker in the circus, who hails from Uttar Pradesh, says that though Holi is celebrated with much fanfare in his village in Uttar Pradesh, complete with bhaang pakoras, choicest of sweet delicacies and the gulal, he still thinks that Holi in the circus is better and brighter. “All of us get up early in the morning and with the Holi colours hidden, we try to colour others. The peals of laughter, especially by the South Indian collegues and the running around the campus to avoid getting coloured, has its own charm,” he says.

His views are endorsed by Shakuntala, an acrobat from Nepal, who says that since a lot of employees in the circus are from Nepal , they get to celebrate Holi not just in their traditional way, but also play dandiya with their colleagues from Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.

But it is the little ones in the circus, young acrobats, jokers and children of the employee, who are most excited. Say Rani and Sunita, the youngest acrobats in the circus: “We just want to have a lot of fun. We have already bought water balloons and will blow them first thing in the morning and then throw these at all those who are still sleeping. We have also asked amma (the cook) to make gujiyas and pooto-bhaji as a special feast.”

“But celebrations are only till 11 am, as we have to get ready for our first show at 1 pm in the afternoon. Festivities aside, but the show must go on,” says trainer for acrobats, Mr Laxman. He informs that the circus will showcase special items on Holi.


Carnival of Colours

Amongst India's innumerable festivals, Holi ranks as the most colourful. It celebrates the arrival of spring and death of demoness Holika, it is a celebration of joy and hope. Holi provides a refreshing respite from the mundane norms as people from all walks of life enjoy themselves. In a tight knit community, it also provided a good excuse for letting off some steam and settling old scores, without causing physical injury. Holi continues to be celebrated with great vigour through out India. Countless Hindi films have brought the vibrant colours of the festival to the screen. Indians all over the world eagerly await the Festival of Colours, as bonfires are lit to banish the cold dark nights of winter and usher in warmer spring. Dhuleti, day after Holi, is the actual festival of colours, when everything in sight is covered in a riot of colours.



Good chance for cleansing skin

HOLI, the most colourful festival of our country, marks the onset of spring and is a time of festivity and colours. Over the years, synthetic colours have replaced natural colours to the extent that most Holi colours sold in the market today are oxidized metals or industrial dyes (like those for dyeing clothes). The first and foremost step is to nourish your skin. Before going out to play with Holi colours try one of these recipes. Mix castor oil (for face, use almond oil) in rose water and a few drops of your favourite aroma oil. Apply over your whole body and scalp every day in the night. You can also mix sesame oil with glycerine, add a little hot water to it and shake well. Applying it daily will also lubricate the skin very well. A heavy dose of your favourite body lotion is also a good alternative. Put Vaseline around and under nails as well as soles, elbows or any dry area of your body.

After CareAfter enjoying your Holi now it is time for you to remove all those colours and replenish and rejuvenate your skin. Make a paste of soyabean flour or besan with milk. Apply it on whole body and wait for the paste to get dry and then scrub it off. Grind yellow mustard and mix it well with milk cream. Use this paste the same way as above and scrub it all over the body. Mix sea salt, glycerine and few drops of aroma oil and scrub the mixture all over the whole body. As this recipe is antibacterial and antifungal it will take care of the bad effects of colours.

Moisturizer and nourish

Soak all fresh herbs like mint, coriander, neem, lemon slices, thyme, rosemary or a few drops of aroma oil and potassium permanganate into your bath water and enjoy it. Then moisturize your whole face and body with good moisturizing lotion or almond oil mixed with few drops of aroma oil. In case of any allergic reaction contact your doctor immediately. 

Prepare colours at home

WHY buy colours from the market? Make your own natured colours.

[Green: Mix mehndi powder with a little flour to make a strikingly beautiful green colour. If used dry, mehndi powder does not leave a permanent mark. For a watery green, mix palak, pudina and dhaniya in water and you have the colour green.

[Yellow: Mix two spoons of haldi in besan along with some flour, rice flour and even multani mitti. To make a watery yellow, mix any yellow flower petals to water, crush and sieve to use the colour.

[Red: The colour red can be prepared by adding chandan powder to the dried flower of hibiscus and mixed with flour. For a watery red, boil anar’s peels with some chandan powder mixed in it.

[Blue: Mix flour with blue hibiscus dried petals and for a watery blue add indigo blue plant’s flowers and fruit in water and boil.

Natural Holi Colours

Holi is nothing but a carnival of colours, of all forms, all varieties, all descriptions. They come in shades of red, orange, blue, green,and purple, and the likes. And they are available in oil, water or powder base. Coloured powder, or, gulal was earlier made out of dried seeds of some tropical flowers like the Palash, and dried silt from the riverbed. In earlier times, the flower of Harsingar used to be soaked in water all night to get a sweet fragrance and a brilliant mustard colour. The use of traditional flowers has quite vanished, giving way to synthetic dyes, available in the form of pigments. For a glittering effect, fine dust of Mica is mixed with the powdered dye. Coloured water is prepared by mixing the pigments of synthetic dyes. These dyes are available in many shades.


Bollywood’s eternal Holi hits

HOLI is a favourite indulgence for many a Bollywood director, and not for reasons far to seek. Adding up a Holi sequence into the script of the film saves them the trouble of lacing the film with other looking chirpy details. A number of our own films have depended on Holi songs for their success, not just commercial but also cultural. Where Holi, as a recurring theme, was popular in the films until the 1990s, it is now fading as a subject of delight. The trend points towards another fact — that Holi, as a socio-cultural bond, is declining because the society has now given space to negative tendencies. Although these days the Holi charm in films is waning, you may never known when springy festival springs back to life in Bollywood scripts.

The greatest Holi songs

Sholay — The ultimate blockbuster had the extrovert Veeru (Dharmendra) and bubbly Basanti (Hema Malini) dancing to the tune of the hit “Holi ke din dil khil jaate hain...” even as a Jai (Amitabh) and the Thakur’s widowed bahu (Jaya Bhaduri) stand by.

Silsila — Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s song ‘Rang barse’ is a legend in its own right. Picturised on the angry young man and the ever-sultry Rekha, ‘Rang barse…’ reflects subtle emotions of love and affection and longing. An eternal hit!

Darr — “Ang se ang lagana sajan hame aise rang lagana”, sings the pretty Juhi in a white salwar suit as she dances and plays Holi with her Sunny Deol, who is busy at the dholak.

Kaamchor — “Mal de gulal mohe, aaye holi aaye re…” picturised on Rakesh Roshan and Jaya Prada, reflects the Holi spirit once again. Though not a very great hit, the song forms a part of the Holi repertoire of Bollywood. Although one has heard better Holi songs, Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar have tried their best to lift this song with the help of music director Rajesh Roshan who used a great mix of instruments.

Aakhir Kyon — ‘Apne rang mein rang de mujko …’ has Smita Patil, Rajesh Khanna, Tina Munim and Rakesh Roshan at a Holi party where Rakesh Roshan again plays the flirt romancing Tina Munim who is his wife (Smita Patil’s) sister.

Zakhmee — This one is not so romantic. It shows how Holi inspires a bandit played by Sunil Dutt in ‘Zakhmee’, to sing “Aayee re aayee re Holi…” as he wanders about streets with a dafli in his hands.

Phagun — Holi actually falls in the phagun season . The song “Phagun aayo re…” is the tragic turning point of the film starring Waheeda Rehman and Dharmendra in the lead roles. Dharmendra is a struggling poet who marries Waheeda, a rich girl. The song culminates with the rich damsel lashing out at Dharmendra who spoils her attire with his playful splashes of gulal on her. He walks out on her and returns towards the end of the film. Matching expressions.

Kati Patang — “Aaj na chhodenge bas humjoli khelenge hum holi” sings Rajesh Khanna in ‘Kati Patang’ to Asha Parekh, a widow, who sits in a corner draped in a white saree. The song ends with the hero ‘accidentally’ throwing gulal over Asha’s maang.

Mother India — “Holi aaye re kanhayee…” from the super hit `Mother India’ has Rajendra Kumar, Sunil Dutt playing a naughty Holi with the village girls while Nargis in her flashback remembers her younger Holi days with husband Raj Kumar. AT


Different strokes across India

WE may have earlier heard of Holi celebrations across the country, but as and when the festival comes back with its spree of colours, it inspires to go back to the places where it really belongs. Let’s start our tour of Holi from places where Holi, in its present form, was originated by Krishna.


It’s said that nothing can match the Holi celebrations at Mathura and Vrindavana where it is not a festival of one day, but is spread over many days. These places, situated in the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, were places of Krishna’s childhood. Here the celebration spans over a week or so. Every big temple, housing idols of Krishna and Radha, celebrates Holi on a different day. People visit temples to get drenched with coloured water and consider it a blessing from the god. Of particular interest is the Holi festival in the village of Barsana, 42 km from Mathura, where Radha belonged. Krishna hailed from Nandagaon. On Holi, men from Nandagaon especially go down to Barsana to play Holi with the women there. every man reflects Krishna; every woman is Radha. Barsana’s holi is called lathimaar holi.


Is famous for the human pyramid which is formed on the Holi day to break the pot of buttermilk hung high up in the streets. Another famous Holi tradition of Haryana is that the brother’s wife beats her brother-in-law with a saree rolled up into a rope in a mock rage. This this is done in good humor and in the evening the brother-in-law brings sweetmeats for her.


In Maharashtra and Gujarat, a grand procession of men soaked with coloured water walks through the streets with an alert call, asking people to take care of pots of butter and milk as Krishna comes in. This refers to Krishna’s habit of stealing butter and milk stored in terracotta pots from people’s homes. There is also a tradition of hanging a pot of buttermilk high up in the street. Men forming a human staircase try to break this pot and whoever succeeds is crowned the Holi king of the locality for that year.


Holi, in Bengal, is called Dol Yatra, or the swing festival. Traditionally the festival is celebrated with idols of Krishna and Radha being placed on swings. Devotees take turns to swing them. Women dance around the swing as men spray coloured water and powder called “Abeer” on them. Interestingly, the Nobel laureate Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore introduced Basanta Utsav to relive the ancient tradition in the school of Shantiniketan, the seat of learning he founded..


Also has traditions similar to those of Bengal. People here only place the idols of Jagannath in place of Krishna and Radha. This is because the famous Jagannath Temple of Puri is situated in Orissa. And “Jagannath”, or ‘the Lord of the Universe’ is yet another name of Krishna.


In Manipur, Holi is a six-day festival, beginning on the full moon day of Phalguna. The centuries-old Yaosang festival of Manipur amalgamated with Holi in the 18th century. Earlier, folk dances were performed and the only musical instrument used was an indigenous drum. Now modern bands are used.Back

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
123 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |