Celebrating the Festival of Colors at FleishmanHillard
India is the land of colors and festivals. One can find color in everything ranging from food to attire to architecture. So much so, that the country has a festival of colors too – Holi.
Some light up a bonfire one day prior to celebrate the victory of good over evil.
Others prepare Holi specific delicacies.
People laugh, rejoice, spread joy and forgive.
And at the end of the day, almost everyone ends up colored.
Holi. My favorite festival.
Maybe because of the laid-back vibes it exudes. One does not need to dress up, if they do not want to. No elaborate setups are required. People get together to simply celebrate life. It is the festival of happiness. One that strengthens our belief in the victory of good over evil. One that is celebrated by all, regardless of religion, region, caste or creed. So much so, that it is no longer considered as a Hindu festival, rather – an Indian festival.
Playing with colors has always fascinated me. It still does. It brings out my inner child. It makes me remember the times we used to chase our friends, holding water balloons in our hands (oh, we hit them sometimes, too!). The celebrations used to start almost a month in advance. It was the time for family get-togethers and carnivals in school. Today, while the family meet-up ritual remains unchanged, the school carnival has been replaced by office celebrations. No, I am not complaining.
Not at all.
That is because, for me, Holi celebrations at FleishmanHillard are an extension of celebration with family. The way all of us bring our cultures together during festivals is heartwarming. It never ceases to amaze me how each one of us has a different way of celebrating the same festival. Some people follow the traditional ritual of Holika Dahan. According to Hindu mythology, Holi is the celebration of the killing of Holika, an “Asura” (demon) by the God Vishnu in order to save Prahlad, one of his devotees, so people light up a bonfire one day prior to Holi. Others make special food items and delicacies like Gujiya (an Indian dessert much like doughnuts, except it’s shaped like a dumpling), Kanji (a drink made out of carrots) and Bhang (an edible mixture prepared from cannabis leaves or marijuana). In fact, Holi celebrations in India are considered incomplete without Bhang. As per ancient Hindu sacred scripture – Atharvaveda, the cannabis plant, is described as one of the five most sacred plants on Earth. It was referred to as a source of happiness and a liberator. Although consumption of certain parts of the cannabis plant such as Charas, Ganja, Hashish, etc. was prohibited in India from 1985 onwards, the leaves are an exception. That, I believe, is the beauty of India. Despite having different cultural beliefs, we are very open to adopt and adapt to each other’s rituals.
Apart from India, Holi celebrations are also observed in different parts of the world such as Dubai, the UK, Spain and elsewhere, where much like India, the way of celebration, influenced by local traditions, differs from individual to individual. However, what remains the same is the playful vibe, the celebration of co-existence and life in its entirety.
So, this Holi, I wish you are able to embrace everything that life has to offer. And while at it, splash some colors and have fun!
Gauri Khanna is a senior account executive based in our New Delhi office. She works with the consumer team and supports the FleishmanHillard Brand Marketing practice from the region.