Growing up in India, you get a festival every other day. There was a joke that we have 32 festivals every month, and it was not very much exaggerated. But none of them is quite like Holi.
Holi is a two day festival( yes we call them festivals in India and not Holidays) that celebrates the arrival of spring and also the arrival of harvest from the farms. Even though it is linked to a mythological story, for me it always marked the day when the cold weather made way for hot Indian summers ( not all that fun if you ask me).
On the evening of the first day there is a big bonfire in every neighborhood.The whole neighborhood gathers and the tradition is to roast some new harvest in the fire. Everybody gets some sweets, its a great time to mingle and catch up with residents of the neighborhood whom you don't see regularly.
The best part comes next morning - The Color. The thing that makes Holi is Color. On Holi, the tradition is to go see friends and smear their faces with bright colored powder ( called Gulal in Hindi). While the adults try to just follow the tradition without much mess by just applying a smudge to the faces of their friends, kids can't be bothered with Gulal. They celebrate with the real deal, the wet color, diluted with water. They shower each other with this colored water, until everyone and everything within site is drenched with color. Its messy, its exhausting and its so much fun.
Once everybody has 'colored' everybody else, the delicacies are served. Gujhia is one special dish served on Holi accompanied by an array of sweet and savory delicacies.
Incidentally this was the first year we actually celebrated Holi after coming to US, and boy! Did I ever have fun!I even made Gujhia this Holi.
Holi is said to be the festival to forget past grudges and renew the friendships with a hug and some color. I hope you had a good one.
If you want to experience Holi in all its glory you can do it by participating in the Holi event organized by ASHA in Stanford, Palo Alto, CA on April 7 and 8. I have never attended it but friends tell me that its a lot of fun. I'm in no way affiliated with ASHA...I have just heard good things about their Holi celebration.