Holi, the festival of colors, was back with a bang for me after a gap of 3 years. The Cultural Committee of IIMA (popularly known as CultComm) organized the celebrations. Just the essentials – colors, water, a 1500 liter tank (to dump the guys and gals) and a mud pot hole, an overhead water sprinkler and cheesy numbers playing from a balcony – but they made a vibrant atmosphere. Add to it the enthusiasm of a band of 75-100 revelers, and the results were literally colorful.
I was rolled and splattered in mud. My T-Shirt, a new white one which I had outsized, was torn to shreds by at least 3 and a half pair of hands. The raiders let out a victory cry when my torso was exposed to the elements. The remains of the ill-fated T-shirt were then swung and tossed to hang on overhead tree branches. There they joined similar trophies, which had come off the bodies of other warriors, on display. Finally, muddy and half-naked, I was tossed into the 1500 liter tank filled with colored water. For a moment I had a vague thought of feeling like taking a blood bath, what with the red colored liquid and salty taste which it left in mouth.
Some of the dorm fachchas and most of the tuchchas had been lazily staying away from all this. I applied the Domino Effect strategy on them. An unsuspecting guy was called out of his room and two others ‘dunked’ (slang for pouring water) him. Splash! After he was dunked, he wanted fair play and other dry guys to also get wet. The chain thus grew and finally the holy duty of making all wet and shivering was accomplished.
It was at this time that I realized that my room key went missing. Remember, “muddy and half-naked”. That was my state and I could not enter my room to get a fresh pair of clothes. So, I went back to the “war arena” to search for my key, which I thought should have fallen while I was having mud / blood bath.
The last of the warriors had left the battle zone. Like all battlefields, the place told the story of the rampage which had happened for the past 4 hours - torn clothes, splattered colors, still running overhead sprinkler, and the “blood cauldron”, which had become darker red than when I first entered it.
I first tried the mud pit. Entered it and tried to feel the soil around with feet; I could feel rubbery things beneath. Those things turned out to be rubber slippers left behind by the victims of the pit. It was later reported on the Lost and Found notice board – “Found some 7.5 pairs of footwear near the mud pit. They are still lying there”. But, I could not find my room key. Another guy also came to the mud pit searching his spectacles, which he was claiming were worth 1000/-. I bemused, “wealth going to dirt”, literally (again!)
My treasure hunt continued over to the water tank. A jump inside greeted me with a shock. The floor of the tank had become muddy with all the “muddy warriors” being dumped inside. Talk of siltation! Realizing that I don’t have enough dredging capabilities, it became important to empty the tank. The water level receded on opening the outlet orifice. It revealed 3-4 inch mud settling along the edges of the tank. I was still counting on my key being somewhere in there (wishful thinking!). So, I proceeded to use combined forces of water flow from hose and a stick to rummage through the muck.
And then it shined! Like a silver plate unearthed from an excavation. My room key, it was found, and I let out a sigh of relief. I could finally dream of wearing clothes again. To celebrate, I turned to the Mess and took glassfuls of “thandai”. Satiated and refurbished but tired and dirty, the dorm bathroom was next stop. A warm shower did well in flushing out the now hardened mud settled inside my ears and nose.
I had searched out and bought “gujhiyas” and “samosas” for the dorm mates. We had a get-together in the evening in the dorm common room. The gathering invited another round of water splashing. Thus, the festivities ended for the day on a sweet and salty note.
Nothing great about the celebrations I had. But, they were special to me because Holi is a festival I have not got a chance to celebrate regularly. I can remember only 5-6 proper “color play-offs” over 25 years of my life. Lack of quorum in neighborhood, or the final exams which have an irritating history of clashing with Holi, or an unusually cold weather have at various times resulted in me not playing color on Holi.
It was fun to be back at creating the rainbow.