The full round moon in the clear night skies, speakers bursting with loud music and women draped in shiny sarees and loads of gold, was a perfect backdrop for the most vibrant Holi celebrations I have ever seen! I witnessed the festival of colours in the true spirit of its name! The Koli (fisherman) community is one of the oldest inhabitants of Mumbai city. They are colourful, vibrant and loud people who sure know how to celebrate their festivals!
Holi is celebrated on the first pournima (full moon day) of the Phalgun month of the Hindu calendar. It is one of the most important festivals of the koli community. The festivities begin with lighting a bon fire. It is symbolic of burning all that is wrong and evil before the onset of the Hindu new year in the coming month, ‘burn’ all bad thoughts and be ready to embrace a fresh new year!
The ground is set, bright flood lights, laser beams and the music bursting from huge speakers now awaits its audience.
People dressed in their shiniest new clothes start gathering slowly, tapping feet to the koli numbers, techno style!
As the night grows, at around 3 am the ground begins to vibrate, all hands up in the air; men, women, old, young and children, all. The enthusiasm in the air just seems to grow exponentially with the night. They dance like there is no tomorrow, no inhibitions, with all their energy! There is so much life around that its impossible to stand still and look, the music and enthusiasm engulfs you into it, before you know it.
I am told that these buildings of the Mahim Koliwada will be torn down for re-development soon. It makes me wonder if these celebrations would still continue this way in tall tower complexes? I heard Rajesh Dahiya say at a conference “Let the old things die, new things will be born”. Its an intriguing thought. But its a shame if these celebrations were to stop, I hope they getting carried ahead, maybe in a new modified form, but I really hope they do!
More pictures, here.