27 February, 2018
“Holi” brings to mind the vibrant colours that are used during this festival that heralds the spring. Celebrated on the full moon night of the “phalguna” month, Holi is truly a festival of colours. It is a time when the young and old engage in pranks and all is forgiven. After all, they do say, “bura naa maano, holi hain”, which means “Don’t feel bad (or take offence), because it’s Holi”. Like many other Indian festivals, Holi too symbolizes the triumph of good over evil.
King Hiranyakashyap had a son Prahlad, who worshipped God Vishnu, whom the king considered to be his arch rival. He tried many tricks to wean Prahlad away from his devotion but keeps failing. Finally, he asks his sister Holika to sit on a pyre along with Prahlad. Holika had a boon wherein she would not be harmed by fire and Hiranyakashyap thought his son would be killed, while his sister escapes. However, Prahlad sat on his aunt’s lap chanting God Vishnu’s name and escapes, while Holika is burnt to death. This festival thus marks the victory of the good over evil and derived the name Holi from Holika.
Another story abounding about this festival is of Kaamadeva and his wife Rati. The Gods requested Kamadeva's help to bring Shiva and Parvati together, using his bow. Shiva who was in deep meditation opens his third eye on Kaamadeva who is burnt to ashes. Kamadeva's wife Rati pleads with Shiva and tells him the story why Kaamadeva did it. Shiva relents and brings him back to life. They say the festival is celebrated to mark this occasion.
The most popular tradition related to Holi is playing with colours. People young and old, apply colours on each other and have fun. People also spray colourful water on others using ‘pitchkaris’. You see people looking all colourful, mostly wearing their white clothes to enhance the colours. Nowadays, there are safe colours that are used for this to avoid rashes and allergies.
A bonfire called “Holika Dahan” made of leaves, twigs, dung, etc. is burnt on Holi evening, in an open area. People also sing and dance around the bonfire and celebrate the arrival of spring. In Mathura, women beat their men with a stick or lathi and it is called as ‘lat maar holi’.
Holi sweets and savouries
Without fail, every Indian festival is also accompanied by a lot of dishes that are prepared for the festival. Typically, during Holi, you have “thandaai”, a sherbet that is prepared, usually using ‘bhang’. There is also a lot of sweet items like gujiya, malpua, and puran poli are prepared. Savouries like bhang pakoda, or dahi vada, are also a big favourite at this time. People visit each other, exchange sweets and pleasantries, smear colour on each other, and celebrate the festival together.
Gujiya is a Holi festival sweet that is equally popular with people of all ages. The best part is that any kind of filling can be used for this. The different varieties of sweet filling done are khoya, dry fruits, coconut, etc. Here is a simple recipe you can try this Holi.
Ingredients for filling
How to prepare?
First, the dough has to be prepared by kneading all the ingredients together. The ghee or butter is to be heated a little before using the dough kneading. The dough should be of the same consistency like that of roti or poori dough, which can be rolled out.
For the filling, heat a little ghee and grate the khoya into it and fry on a low flame, till colour changes. Take it off the flame and allow to cool and then mix the rest of the ingredients into it.
Now shape the dough into small balls and roll them out into small 3 to 4-inch diameter circles. Use the filling in the middle and close the edges. There are molds available for this, and you may use one. If not, you can seal it with bare hands as well. It is better to smear a bit of water and flour along the circumference for it to hold together better. You could choose to get a little creative and try some designs for the edges, but make sure that the sealing is done properly, as otherwise, the filling comes out while frying. Once, all the dough is rolled and filled, you can fry them golden brown in hot oil.
Get set to enjoy the festival with friends, family or on your own!
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