RANTHAMBHORE, RAJASTHAN, INDIA
JAISALMER, RAJASTHAN, INDIA
JAWAI BANDH, RAJASTHAN, INDIA
MASAI MARA, KENYA
With hours to go before the bonfires of “Holika Dahan” (The Immolation of Holika), light up city squares and village chaupals across India, in celebration of Holi tomorrow, we bring you some snippets about this festival of colours at SUJÁN from years gone by.
More than five years ago, a visiting friend wrote on our blog, “What I experienced in the Indian version of Holi (the real version) was quite superb. I saw an expression of unadulterated happiness and joy, all cumulated from the simple age-old celebration of colour. I felt privileged to watch children run through the streets, playing with water guns and powder; to see brilliant hues and tones splashed about on local clothing. To see three generations sitting together on a wooden bench, faces smeared in vibrant residue.”
From Jaisalmer last year, we reported, communities living inside the fort such as Brahmins, Hajuris and Rajputs traditionally gather at key focal points and sing and compose music in different groups. Unlike anywhere else in India then, the musical element of a Holi celebration in Jaisalmer has rhythms and melodies drawn from songs of the desert bards, going back a millennium. Some songs are related to the various acts of Lord Krishna.
At JAWAI, the mood was no different, and perhaps even more festive, as On the eve of Holi, guests at JAWAI participated in ‘Holika Dahan’ in Sena village, which involved the lighting of the bonfire and hearing traditional festival music. The next morning, on the day of ‘Holi’ guests set off from JAWAI camp and headed to our neighbouring villages to experience the unique and playful celebrations. Holi is also known as the ‘Spring Festival’B –B it marks the arrival of Spring; the season of hope and joy. The gloom of the winter is left behind as Holi promises brighter summer days, much like the harvest festival celebrated in other parts of the world.B The promise of a good harvest for the farmers arrives and the crops and fields in JAWAI are at their fullest. Holi got its name as the “Festival of Colours” from Lord Krishna, a reincarnation of Lord Vishnu, who liked to play pranks on the village girls by drenching them in water and colourful dry paints.
After taking part in a temple procession through the village everyone got involved and played Holi with the children of Sena.
And from JAWAI to the jungles of Ranthambhore, which has its own ‘natural’ way of observing Holi. A few years back, we observed, “Ranthambhore is blooming with flowers of the Flame of the Forest, or Dhak trees a critical ingredient for the colours used to play Holi with. No wonder then that the entire Park and its surroundings are painted in blossoms of red and the forest floor carpeted in colourful petals.”
Tomorrow will bring more colour, more celebration and a day of festivities as SUJÁN observes the coming of Spring and we share the experience with our teams, our local communities and of course, our guests!