People who don’t celebrate festivals may not always be missing much (for many, anyway a festival is just another routine, doing what must be done and moving on – or worse, something that just passes by in a calendar).
Not missing much would happen if we have something to celebrate, we celebrate what we believe what is meant to be celebrated, and then a festive day is just a handy reminder one could use.
That turns a festival from something structured, something that comes to us from out-there and uniform for everyone else into something that is to be made to order, to be interpreted originally and rediscovered from time to time. This view of a festival is so deeply embedded in to who we are and what we are looking for.
Viewed that way, festivals begin to prod us with, ‘what are you going to celebrate?’ ever before the appointed date. And that is so much more engaging than to think of ‘HOW are you going to celebrate this festival?’ – in fact, how can the HOW question be answered without knowing the WHAT?
If I were to interpret what a festival stands for, then it’s a symbol – kind of a door that invites me to explore what enchanting worlds are held behind it.
If I have been occasionally gripped by the richness of at least what some festivals stand for, there is no need for an appointed day.
What does Holi stand for?
A melange of colors, fun and frolic, good food marking change of the season…?
Thinking of Holi as they would have played it in the Brij when Radha and Krishna would have been around? Soaking in some of that imagination, some of that love through the Holi songs called Rasiya? Pandit Jasraj can lift up some of those simple songs to the level where they sparkle with a melange of longing, belonging, devotion, and total submission.
And how can one not think of the melange of food. There are Ladus to be made, Bajri Vada, Shrikhand, Dudhi Theplas, Vaal, Gujarati Dal and Brinjal-Potato shaak. Of course, there is place reserved for Dhani-Chana and dates. New produce of the season to be offered to the Pyre marks the date from which the food will change – one can use the mangoes, Thandai, and variety of melons.
And there is dressing up to go to the Darshan of Holi, carrying the offerings and then moving round the pyre to be a part of a huge, moving melange of humanity – of all types, to step together while carrying the melange of private worlds within.
No two Holis are the same!