In my wildest of dreams, did I ever imagine that I will play Holi so animatedly, that too in Sweden. Yes, let me unabashedly admit, like some Indians, I was not a fan of Holi. For me Holi meant one thing back in India, to get through the day quietly and to escape the prying eyes of my friends and family. So I was all raised eyebrows when I got an invite on Facebook from some college students, in end of August. I was dumbstruck and while considering turning it down, a thought crossed my mind. The idea of smearing colors on the faces of unknown “foreign” people was indescribable and so inviting.
For those of you who think I am talking gibberish, here are some quick facts for you, Holi is the Indian festival of colors. It is celebrated at the end of the winter season, on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna. In 2014, In India, Holi was celebrated on March 17.
But why now? In August! A common friend came to the rescue and explained the delay. Firstly in March it would have been awfully cold out here and in summer everybody was on vacation. So eventually they had planned it now. So let me begin my tryst with the “Swedish Festival of colors” and how marvelously it was given a befitting end.
The day arrived and the sun refused to come out. My spirits dampened and I somehow didn’t want to go now. But then some friends who wanted me to be there, begged me to come. So I dragged myself to the venue and soon found myself stranded in a faraway forest, with some strangers.
We bought some colors and waited for the fun to begin. But all we saw were a bunch of people with a dash of colors, with very less intermingling with each other. I thought I could teach them a thing or two, but learnt something’s myselfJ
1) Took the plunge and let it go.
Since there was not much involvement between people, we began talking with a bunch. We took initiative, taught others how to play Holi in true Indian sense. We didn’t think if people will feel bad or not. We didn’t think twice before smearing colors on strangers. We Indians broke the ice and set the Holi mood. And I couldn’t believe I was doing all that!
2) Sharing is caring.
Holi in true sense meant spreading love and the message of sharing. We shared simple things like color packets, soft drinks, chips, umbrellas when it rained. The camaraderie was amazing as we were all strangers to each other but were celebrating the festival of love and sharing.
3) No “Bhaang”, the colors had the spunk to carry on.
Holi without Bhaang( indian drink with milk, fruits and some powder that makes your head go dizzy) seems incomplete. But somehow here it was not needed. The DJ was terrific and the ‘organic’ colors added to the spunk. In fact we didn’t require bhang at all. The spirit of the crowd was contagious and slowly people got the zest and were smearing each other with lots of colors.
4) Rain or no rain, we danced with glee.
With the weather being august end and it being Sweden, rain was proving to be a spoil sport since morning. So when the fun was at its peak, the rain came lashing down at us. But by that time the mood had set in and our moves created quite uproar.
5) What’s Holi without some Bollywood Music?
Talking about being zazzy, when there is Bollywood music everything else would come to a standstill. And so it did. After grooving to the tunes of the likes of Pitbulls and Katy Perrys of the world, we pestered the DJ for some Bollywood music. He looked at us as if we were talking in Greek. Luckily for us, some Indian friends had already got a playlist ready with them which they passed on. After that the inevitable happened. We became the centrestage of everyone’s attention. We grooved to all the Hindi foot tapping numbers and the crowd swayed with us. It was quite a sight to see.
6) Make the world a global village.
What was lovely was to see people from different countries celebrating the festival in such grandeur. There was a Swedish lady who had been to India many times and knew the right way to play Holi. She had brought her kids with her and they were having the time of their lives. People from all races, ethnicities and walks of lives came together and played Holi. We don’t see that every day, do we?
7) People friendlier, hearts warmer and life’s colorful.
Evening came and eventually everyone had to start going back. But we left as different persons while going back. Colorful both inwardly and outwardly, friendlier, lots of new contacts on whatsapp and facebook and drenched not only by the rain but by the fun and spirit we made.
I on the other hand was feeling proud and amused. Pride of my festival that its popularity has crossed seven oceans and people love and adore it and celebrate it in Sweden. Pride on being part of the Indo-Swedish festival which was the first of its kind. Amusement at myself for playing holi here when I kind of ‘loathed’ the smearing of colors back in India. Amusement of being a festival ambassador abroad. And wonder at the beautiful colors of life, which can at any place, country or season recreate magic by moving its magic wand among us, the lay man who waits for every moment with bathed breath.