Holi, the festival of colours was celebrated last Tuesday by the MBIS early years community. It was quite different to our previous experiences of the festival. Many elements of Holi were added to the morning, representing cultural diversity within our host country in response to the looming issue of accessing fresh water around the world.
To begin with, the morning was inaugurated by parent volunteers from PS1 by reading a story about Holi instead of a PowerPoint presentation. The story ‘Amma tell me about holi’ by Bharti Mathur, with beautiful illustrations, explained why and how the tradition began, in a way a young audience would enjoy and relate to.
The new venue, the football field was perfect to run around and for activities that were carefully planned to make the festival inclusive. Tents were set up in the corner for henna and making puran poli. One of the goalposts was decorated with colourful dupattas as a stage to entice everyone to dance to popular Bollywood songs, as many do as a part of the celebration. At the far end of the field opposite the tents, an invitation to create rangoli patterns with loose parts and natural materials was set.
Soon after the story was over, many headed towards the trays filled with colourful organic colours scattered around the field. The children began chasing each other and adults with fists filled with colourful powder, squealing with joy and excitement. Within minutes, many had transformed into playful individuals slathered with beautiful colours from hea
d to toe, resembling Krishna and his friends in the story. I’m not sure if the water was missed at all as everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves far too much.
Once the trays of colours were empty, the puran poli station got quite busy. Puran poli, a traditional Maharashtrian Roti made with a filling of jaggery and ghee as part of the celebration were devoured by many. Sunita tai, Jyoti tai and Ms Pratima were kept on their toes as children and adults watched them cook and they waited longingly for their turn to be served. Fresh, hot puran polis and boondi ladoos were a treat after all that running around.
There was something to keep everyone entertained and engaged. If you were not quite in a mood for dancing and not yet ready for puran poli, one could visit the henna station and have your hands and arms painted by Ms Anjali and the parents, like many did. It did not matter if you were a girl or a boy. Some even invented dance moves to make their tattoos dry faster.
Towards the end of the morning of celebrations, many settled down and began exploring the invitation to create rangoli. It was wonderful to watch the children work with their ideas alone and collaborate with friends and parents. The field was covered with amazing transient art and stories that were told using loose parts and natural materials. Never mind the rangoli patterns.
The hour long celebration came to end sooner than we realised. The children were happy to go home early and we were delighted that everything went smoothly. However, none of the above would have been possible without an extensive list of people who were involved in planning and executing the day, from our gardener bhaiyas, supreme staff, PS team and of course the parents. A big thank you to one and all and we hope the experience has been an enriching one. Until next year….happy holi!