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It is that time of the year for us where spring is in the air and one of India’s most popular festivals – the festival of colour Holi is here!!  Countdown to Holi and one can smell  the delicious smell of homemade Gujiyas, Mathris, Malpua, Puran poli, Dahi badas and more when passing by any household!  The famous ‘Holi’ drink Thandai is served on this day and is a big part of the Holi tradition and celebration. It is made out of purified water, sugar, seeds of watermelon and muskmelon, almonds, lotus stem seeds, cashew nut, cardamom, saunf, roseflower, white pepper, saffron and the vey intoxicating bhang! This drink is especially prevalent in north India and Banaras is the hub of Thandai.  Many of us I am sure would have interesting stories to share about the after effects of drinking Thandai mixed with bhang!

gujiya

Mouth watering mava filled Gujiyas

Malpua

Syrupy Indian Pancake Malpua

Mathri

Savoury Holi Mathri

thandai

Delicious Thandai garnished with saffron

There is fun and frolic, dance, music and colour everywhere on this day. People of all ages come out and play with colour, applying gulal on each other’s cheeks or running behind each other with pichkaris oozing with different water colours! The significance of this festival has to do with the victory of good over evil. Legend has it that there was once a Devil and powerful king, Hiranyakashyap who considered himself a God and wanted everybody to worship him. His son Prahlad was a devotee of Lord Vishnu much to the King’s dislike and after many failed attempts in killing Prahlad who was saved by Lord Vishnu, the King ordered his sister Holika to take Prahlad in his lap and enter a blazing fire.  Holika had special powers whereby she could enter fire without any danger however on that instance when she entered the fire with Prahlad, she had to pay a price with her life, while, Prahlad who kept chanting Lord Vishnu’s name escaped unaffected. Apart from symbolizing the victory of Good over Evil this legendary story also demonstrates that nobody however strong can bring harm to a true devotee.  Bonfires are lilted across the country in the evening prior to the Holi day (also celebrated as ‘Chhoti Holi’) and this story is remembered and told amongst families.

Beautiful colours of Gulal

Beautiful colours of Gulal

The Legendary story of Holika and Prahlad

The Legendary story of Holika and Prahlad

Singing and dancing colours!

Singing and dancing colours!

Holi Pooja thali

Holi Pooja thali

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