Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Holi at TIFR

Coming from a relatively highly sophisticated and silent and gentleman/womanly atmosphere of my Chennai Mathematical Institute holi at TIFR was a culture shock.

Back in CMI Holi used to be a very formal affair where some of the guys used to dab a pinch of gulal on each other's face. Mostly it was arranged by my batchmate Jigar. Only last year Holi at CMI took a slightly more vibrant tone. But still it was quite an organized thing except for the last minute efforts by my great friend Atul to throw mud on each other and add some new "colours" to the event.

But then last year in CMI, I believe the defining moment was when one of my batchmates went to put colours on another girl in CMI and she sharply replied back "You dare do that and I shall slap you hard". And she went back to her academics shutting off the colorful frenzy outside.

Hence Holi in CMI for the sake of self-respect remained mostly a guy's affair.

Hence I had a completely new kind of Holi here at TIFR. They dug up the ground to create a huge mud pit and then people were thrown into it irrespective of age,sex and position in TIFR. { After CMI I was actually pretty surprised to see such enthusiastic and uinhibited participation of the female sex in the Holi chaos. In TIFR they were quite instrumental in initiating the funny mayhem! }

The students went and caught each of the profs and held them up by feet and hands and threw them into the mud pit. And then everyone kept splashing mud on each other. Some of the profs said "no" and their decision was respected and some who said "I don't want to" got held by legs and hands and dumped into the mud pit. :P

Obviously I too got thrown in and it was quite fun to get drenched in mud by so many people. And the I also joined in the process of throwing mud on others! :)

I have been shedding many inhibitions over the last 2 years and I shed this one today. I am a highly freed person and I don't restrain myself from trying out something unless the action runs the risk of destabilizing my thinking or damaging my health or others. Hence I don't drink alcohol or smoke but have danced at parties and balls.

As soon as the people were coming out of the pit there was a water shower arranged for them to clean up and thats where the consistent pranks started. People were too drenched in mud to see whether the other guy was pouring mud or water. So as soon as someone got out of the shower cleaned he/she was welcomed with a bucket of mud water on him/her.

The argument was simple "You are not allowed to be so clean"

There were a few visiting French scientists in the Physics department and they too got thrown in. One of our physics profs went to them and explained to them:

"You have to do nothing at all. Just go and sit in the pool and close your eyes and ears. The rest will be taken care by us. This is annual ayurvedic treatment festival in India"

They happily enjoyed the "ayurvedic treatment"

One of the profs had boiled a lot of beat-root to create pink colours and that was given to the children in the campus to play with. Nutritious and non-toxic colours for children.

And there were obviously colours but they took an obvious back-seat and there were liters of "Bhang" and sweets for everyone. The girl who was distributing the Bhang found a nice excuse to be not thrown into the mud saying "I am busy" :P

I steered clear from such suspicious liquids. :)


Pratish Gandhi said...

Well, I guess many people do not know of the CMI 'incident' that you have mentioned. Weird.

Anyways, Happy Holi..

Ranjani said...


you should have been here today... there was quite a (muddy) splash of colour here in the evening. The girls also participated. Probably nothing close to what you had at TIFR (fortunately!), we were not thrown into a mud pit or anything, but it was fun.Happy Holi to you!