Holi is a well-received festival of colours and merriment. Originated from India, this celebration can now be found worldwide, with the good sense that it is the festival of joy. Surely, who would refuse a day devoted to bring happiness and joy to the world? An occasion as rare as this should certainly be acknowledged. It is as if Holi is a fairy godmother shaped into another form, spreading messages of friendship and goodwill. It is a day where all ill thoughts are put aside, and the beauty of life is celebrated without any conflicts. Social distinctions are if no meaning, - there is no rich or poor, only a uniting community. 

 Many believe that an ancient king, named Krishna, was the instigator of the Holi tradition. It is the Hindu belief that Lord Vishnu re-birthed. This time, it is under the name Krishna. In the heart of north India, Krishna was a mischievous little boy. He pulled many shenanigans, including his favourite, that was dousing the village girls with water and colours. Though they were initially offended by his action, their eventual affection for the little prankster grew. Soon enough, the other boys joined in and it became a well-known sport in the village. The sport passed down from one generation to another, until today, evolving into an element of a culture. 

 During the day, everyone celebrating will have the satisfaction of splashing each other with water or powder of every colour. This activity lasts from the morning up to a whole day. Believe it or not, the striking colours this festival spreads actually come from various sources, most being traditionally extracted. It may sound a bit exaggerated, seeing that coloured powders are available almost everywhere today, but these sources are what create the vivid shades that bring life to the whole event.

 Take the primary colour green for example. The beautiful hue is extracted from the leaves of the ‘gulmohur’ tree. Upon drying, these leaves give out a lovely shade of green that radiates a refreshing aura to the surroundings. After all, green is a symbol of mother nature. The colours red and orange can also be obtained from nature, that is a plant called flame of the forest. Some alternate sources include powdered fragrant red sandal wood, dried hibiscus flowers, madder tree, radish and pomegranate.

 Moving over to the bright tint of yellow, it is safe to say that Haldi powder becomes a highly convenient source. Other sorts such as bael fruit, species of chrysanthemums and marigolds can be used as substitutes as well. Getting to the calmer element of things, the colour blue is mostly extracted from indigos, indian berries, blue hibiscus and jacaranda flowers. It is rare to find this colour in common natural sources. Beetroot, additionally, is the traditional source for the colours magenta and purple. It is the only source that is easily obtained to take out these colours, with one simple step, that is to boil it in water for preparation. 

 Exuberant, vibrant and pure contentment. Now, maybe we should take a break from the textbooks, and create our own Holi for a little fun. What do you say?

By Lydia Leong and Lam Wei Shan


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