Holi Ayurvedic Thandai and Colours
My first vivid memory of Holi, Festival of Colours was at the age of four. My elder brother applied holi colours on my cheeks early morning to mark the beginning of the festival. Festival of Colours celebration including holi thandai and colours are huge in my households as our ancestry is from Uttar Pradesh. We take this celebration of springing into the new year seriously because it marks the end of winter and letting go of the old. It's safe to say that the festival of Holi Thandai and Colours is bigger than Diwali at my home. Families gather together and enjoy a meal, auric thandai, spicy jackfruit curries (it's the meat for vegetarians), out of the world crispy potato kachoris, raw mango and chilli chutney, sweet potato puris, gulab jamuns, biryanis, raitas and pulaos has been the set menu for decades for our family lunch on rang Panchami.
Celebrating safe Holi 2020: with swirls of colours. Holi thandai and colours celebrations in India and Nepal go on for two days. On the day of Holika Dahan (first day of Festival of Colours), my mother prepares the age-old ubtan mixed with pure mustard oil; so we may scrub ourselves off all the evil and old habits and let it burn in the cleansing bonfire put out in the evening for a fresh start. Rangwali holi, Festival of Colours which falls the next day, is when we play with holi colours and greet our loved ones with smearing holi colours on their face. The question arises, is holi religious or cultural.
Is Holi Religious or Cultural?
Are you wondering, is holi religious or cultural? Holi is a massive Hindu religious festival, the second most important after Diwali. It falls on a full moon, also known as Purnima, in the month of Phalguna - which falls in March as per the gregorian calendar.
Holi Thandai and Colours has a vast cultural significance across India, especially more in Vrindavan, Mathura, Barsana, and has now taken on the western world as the festival of colours. For many, Holi Thandai and Colours festival signifies the triumph of good over evil (Holika and Prahlad's famous story) in Lord Vishnu's honour. For some, it is the blossoming of love, time to forgive and forget, repair broken relationships and have a good time with friends and family. Many legends surround this ancient Hindu festival, but my favourite one is Lord Krishna. These stories signify compassion and unconditional love.
The Krishna legend goes that he was apprehensive of Radha accepting him as her partner in their youth because of his dark skin (a consequence of poisoning) as Radha was magnificent. Tired of Krishna's desperation, his mom suggested he take the colour and go to Radha and request her to smear him with any colour she liked. As soon as Radha did that, they became an eternal couple and the epitome of love. A few eyebrows may be raised as the story involves skin colour. Still, I suggest understanding these stories' essence instead of getting into the literal details. Krishna was feeling not good enough for Radha because of his darkness, and Radha unconditionally accepting him despite those reasons. If you have a Krishna within or in your life and you may not be okay with the metaphorical darkness, take a colour you like and splash it over! And voila, you're in love. We hope you aren’t confused anymore on is holi religious or cultural.
Holi in India
This year the festival of Holi Thandai and Colours may be celebrated differently, especially in Delhi, Mumbai due to coronavirus. I am not too enthusiastic about celebrating with holi colours, water etc., only because Holi Thandai and Colours has turned into another Bollywood dance party for the last few years.
As children in the early 2000s, we used to wear our whites, fill our balloons and pichkaris with water and go down to play it with our friends - some annoying kids even got the eggs. Now all one does for the Festival of Colours in metro cities is dress up, put their expensive shades on, buy organic holi colours and dance to cheesy Bollywood songs with no connection with Holi whatsoever. Okay, maybe "Balam Pichkari" and "Rang Barse" are connected, but you get the point.
I miss my childhood Holi Thandai and Colours celebrations. My cousins, friends, and friends gathered in a famous journalist colony I lived in as a kid - yes, there is a colony tucked away in a quiet lane of Bandra Kalanagar, where once upon a time, only journalists were allowed to purchase apartments. We started our day at 8 am and came back home just for lunch, of course, taking breaks midway for all the delicious snacks that my dear aunt kept out in her ground-floor backyard for the kids. At the same time, our parents gulped down glasses of homemade auric thandai.
Holi Thandai and Colours
Holi thandai and colours is huge in the country! "Thanda" means cool in Hindi, and thandai meaning something that cools you down. Holi colours are widely used during the celebration.
Consumption of Auric thandai goes well into the summers because of its various health benefits. It cures flatulence, digestive issues because of fennel seeds. Poppy seeds help relieve constipation, and they are also rich in protein, fibre, calcium that further boost your immune system. The beverage has many elements that keep you safe from the summer heat. Items like watermelon and pumpkin seeds are added to make it a natural energizer. These two, along with nuts like almonds and pistachios, promote the feeling of fullness. No wonder people gulp down glasses whilst playing holi out in the sun or at holi parties! The unrefined raw sugar helps fight throat infections, colds, and coughs during the summer season.
I started consuming thandai once I grew up, probably after turning eighteen, as I was not fond of it earlier. But once I got the taste of it, I never looked back. Culturally and traditionally across the nation, thandai is consumed with bhaang - the female cannabis plant ground into a paste as a beverage for holi is considered a normal part of the Utsav.
My mom every year makes thandai at home around the Festival of Colours. She uses unrefined raw sugar, cashews, almonds, fennel seeds, green cardamom, khus khus, black pepper, dried rose petals, cloves, muskmelon seeds and saffron. Eat these 5 nuts for healthier lifestyle. Just as the name suggests, auric thandai is one of the most cooling and refreshing drinks I've had. It invigorates your mind and body like standing under a cold shower on a hot day.
In conclusion, the Festival of Colours may not be the same over the years; still, the food and drinks like Auric thandai we consume as a family prepared with love have kept the festival's spirit intact. And we will keep it safe for centuries to come.
Cherish Holi thandai and colours with a bang! Smear organic holi colours on each other's face, and have Auric thandai which offer the top ten benefits of thandai in summers. Auric thandai does justice to the thandai meaning as it contains the goodness of nuts, seeds, spices, and herbs. Auric thandai is drunk religiously in many households every year on Holi thandai and colors! Get your pack of Auric thandai and know the true thandai meaning!
Authored by: Padmaja Rai
About the Author: Padmaja is a healthcare consultant and avid fitness enthusiast. She holds a masters' in bio-innovation and rare diseases from University of Pennsylvania. She is a firm believer in ancient Indian holistic healing.