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28 Mar

How Holi has evolved over the years

From the traditional way of observing the festival to its adaptation as a theme in other celebrations—we trace the evolution of Holi, and its many iterations over the years

Customarily, Holi is celebrated with much pomp and gusto. However, over the years, this festival has evolved and become much more than a mere celebration of colours—from becoming more mindful in how it’s celebrated to using it as inspiration in photography and pre-wedding events. Here’s a closer look at how the festival of colours is breaking new ground in India today.

Colour me natural
The past year placed due focus on healthy living—for us and our planet. We became more conscious about our choices and actions and their effect on the planet. Mana Shah, director of a company that provides sustainable products and services, reveals, “Traditionally, Holi was celebrated with colours that were extracted from flowers. Somewhere along the way, we switched to chemical-based products that proved to be detrimental to us and the environment. You see, the inexpensive price tag that came with chemical colours swayed us in its favour. But, 2020 was the wakeup call we all needed. A growing emphasis on hygiene made us understand the importance of keeping our surroundings clean. Suddenly, we couldn’t shy away from the harsh reality that there is a bigger cost to not treating our waste and not keeping our surroundings clean among other things. Thankfully, we are now more mindful when it comes to the way we celebrate and live.”

Keeping this in mind, we must opt for plant-based colours or those that are derived from rice, marigold and indigo flowers, haldi, kumkum, beetroot—anything that is naturally available, feels Shah. “These were the traditional sources of colours for Holi and it’s about time we retrace our steps and celebrate with eco-conscious colours before we cause more harm to ourselves and our surroundings,” warns Shah.

Image Source: Knotting Bells

A carnival of love and colours
When it comes to weddings, Holi-themed soirees have taken over as one of the most popular trends. Couples, today, are hosting haldi or welcome parties by adding a colourful twist to the festivities. “Over the years, Holi—unlike any other festival—has most certainly found a special place for itself in weddings! Renditions such as Phoolon ki Holi are executed with great zeal as petals and flowers are showered upon the bridal couple and their guests. You see, colours not only have the ability to create beautiful photographs, but also bring out the child in each and every one of us. Usually, the younger guests are not keen to participate in the age-old traditional ceremonies. Making Holi a part of the festivities is an excellent way to bring all your guests together to partake in the fun,” feels Aashna Saran, founder and creative head of a wedding design studio.

If we rewind and take a look at how this festival was celebrated in the past, we’ll discover that during the Mughal empire, Holi was a grand affair with colours, rose water and perfume.

With that in mind, Saran feels that making this festival a part of your celebrations can truly channel a royal mood and lend a cultural touch to the event. But if you’re still unsure, Saran has a solution, she avers, “Couples who are wary of their special occasion getting tarnished by colours can opt for a celebration that involves playing with petals.”

Such a wedding function isn’t for all, so Saran’s advice is simple: “Make your Holi-themed function the first event of the festivities and it will create an engaging vibe for the remainder of the celebrations.”

Flowers and fun
Holi is all about embracing the fun and vibrancy of colours and holds true for wedding too, to a certain extent. “Couples realised how easy it was to merge this festival with their celebrations—be it the haldi ceremony or a welcome party. Those who are more conscious of artificial colours can pick Phoolon ki Holi or eco-friendly celebrations featuring organic colours. Weddings are high on emotions, and the colourful festival is guaranteed to bring out the best from your guests,” feels Namha Malhotra, founder of a wedding planning company.

When bride-to-be Prerna Zaveri’s fiancé expressed an interest in hosting a pre-wedding Holi-themed function, she had her reservations about the colours ruining her garments. She says, “I cannot bear the thought of spending hours washing all the colours off my outfit. My fiancé, on the other hand, feels differently as he loves everything to do with colours! So, we reached a middle ground and are now planning to host a Phoolon ki Holi haldi function. I can only imagine how beautiful the photographs will look as a result of the showering of colourful flowers combined with the ceremony. Of all our pre-wedding functions, this is the one we are most excited for.”

A colourful capture

If there’s one space where iterations of Holi are multitudinous, it is photography. “Festivals and weddings are an indispensable part of our culture. Holi is now very much a part of pre-wedding festivities and photo shoots. As a photographer, it’s an ideal moment to catch the colours alongside love, fun and laughter in one frame,” feels Shrey Bhagat, co-founder of a wedding photography and filmmaking company.

Colours have consistently played a role in adding drama and fun to pictures and thanks to the use of petals and smoke bombs, Bhagat feels like couples can reimagine age-old customs and festivals. Smoke bombs are a fun inclusion for destination couple shoots since they incorporate an element of life and colour. “We usually use smoke bombs to highlight the couple’s entry and amplify the dance performances,” shares Aditya Mahagaonkar, co-founder of a specialised wedding photography company.

All things considered, no matter how you choose to celebrate it, Holi will always remain one of India’s most loved festivals.

Lead Photo: Knotting Bells; Photos Courtesy: iStock

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Lynn Lobo / [email protected]
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