Skip to main content

Colourful history of Holi. O yea!

Afternoon of Holi day is the best time to be driving down roads of Delhi and the roads of its many satellite towns. The roads look deserted, there are fewer cars, there's almost no traffic, these roads are almost unrecognizable. Occasionally you see groups of people, migrant workers, painted pink, little drunk, walking or cycling back home.

In Kashmir, the Holi celebrations of security men used to quite a spectacle for both the local Muslims and the Hindus. By the time the celebrations used to end, which usually meant afternoon, these men could be seen lying inebriated on the road sides and in the ditches.

Holi has been celebrated like this for quite sometime now.

During the Huli, when all business is laid aside, and the Hindus of Northern India are sometimes inebriated for weeks, and give themselves up to all kinds of revelry in their Zenanas, Ranjit Singh had as little scruple as any other Sirdar of the Panjab, to appear openly mast or drunk, and exhibited himself in the streets of Lahor with several females riding on an elephant; while the people thought none the worse of him for this, and set it down as his manner of celebrating the Huli.
- Travels in Kashmir And The Panjab, from German of Baron Charles Hugel with notes and translation by Major T.B. Jervis, F.R.S. Published 1945 (page 383)

Baron Charles (Carl, Karl) Alexander Anselm von Hügel  wrote this while visiting Punjab in around 1835. In in the same book he gives a wonderful description (although he got the origin of Holi a bit wrong, the bit about Krishna and Sita - it should be Krishna and Radha) of how holi celebration were conducted in Northern India of that era.
Page 311 of the book reads:

This Hindu festival, as I have said, is in honour of Krishna, and represents the manner in which he and his beloved Sita, with their companions amused themselves. A quantity of Singhara meal dyed yellow, green, red, and blue, is put into large baskets, and mixed up with little pieces of gold and silver tinsel, a number of large pots of water dyed with the same colours, and little water-engines being set near. Every one appears in white garments, and the festival commences, by the dancing girls sitting down, and breaking forth into a song in honour of the feast. The baskets of coloured meal are then introduced, and thin glass balls full of Singhara powder, are distributed to the assembly, which they throw at each other, and being broken with the slightest force discharge their contents on the white dresses, and stain them. Like all games of this description, these begin gently, but soon assume a rougher aspect, each player seizing as many balls as he can, and flinging them at one another. When the glass balls are exhausted, they take the coloured meal, first, as much as the fingers can hold, then by handfuls, and at last they empty the baskets over each other's heads, covering the whole person. The dirtiest part of the entertainment consists in the sprinkling with the coloured waters. In great houses the Hull is often held in the Zenana, and on those occasions the women are allowed to be present. Spirits are drank, and the amusements are then carried far beyond our European ideas of propriety, but the Hindu thinks no harm of them. 

Image: Some reader (researcher) at Oxford  really enjoyed these lines. A page from this book available at Google Books


Popular posts from this blog

Famous Old Faces of Doordarshan

Some people recall the faces and some people recall the names. Here are images of some of the famous readers and presenters of Doordarshan down the years. If you recognize any of them, leave a comment.
[Update 1: Most of the faces now have names thanks to helpful comments by olio-gallimaufry]
[Update 2: Included image of one of the earliest presenters, Gopal Kaul. Send in generously from personal collection by son, Ashutosh Kaul. Sept, 2010.]
[Major Update 3: Got a tip-off about a documentary about the famous faces of Doordarshan from the makersof“The Golden Trail , DD@50 :Special feature on Golden Jubilee of Doordarshan” from which these caps were taken. I managed to catch the incredible documentary and am adding some more faces/name and part of the docu here. New ones can be found after the image of Narotam Puri. 30th Oct, 2010]

 Pratima Puri. Believed to be the first Doordarshan reader.

Indian Cigarette Vintage Ads

He put a cigarette in his mouth and, as a matter of silent routine, offered one to Gwyn, who said ‘No thanks.”Richard looked at him.”I packed it in.”"You what?”"I stopped. Three days ago. Cold. That’s it. You just make the life choice.”

Richard looked up and inhaled needfully. He gazed at his cigarette. He didn’t really want to smoke it. He wanted to eat it. Almost the only thing that he still liked about Gwyn was that he still smoked…Paradoxically, he no longer wanted to give up smoking: what he wanted to do was take up smoking. Not so much to fill the little gaps between cigarettes with cigarettes (there wouldn’t be time, anyway) or to smoke two cigarettes at once. It was more that he felt the desire to smoke a cigarette even when he was smoking a cigarette. The need was and wasn’t being met…

While it would always be true and fair to say that Richard felt like a cigarette, it would now be doubly true and fair to say it. He felt like a cigarette. And he felt like a cigaret…

Space City Sigma, 1989

A strange new deadly creature has sneaked aboard the ship. The latest maneuver of  Zakhakoo to take down Commander Tara and his city, the last hurdle to his plans of adding earth to his galactic kingdom and the universe. This time he sent a small Blob, strangely, much resembling a stinky wet Upla, a throbbing pack of  cow-dung . The Blob is given to jumps onto its unsuspecting victims and sucks the life force out of them. Soon, this 'death-on-contact-with-skin' creature starts making victims out of helpless citizens of the Space City who have no clue about the nature of these new deaths. As the word slowly spreads,there is mayhem, in this mayhem the Blob zeros in on what could be its most prized victim - Shakti. As a doors open (automatically, woosh-pause-woosh), Shakti walks in only to be attacked slyly by the Blob. In the manner of its previous killings, this time too, Blob goes for the face, sticking to the face of Shakti who for a moment seems to be in the grips of death …