While it was Lord Krishna who seems to be the mascot of Holi, the festival of colours has undergone an evolution of changes over the decades. The most recent trend is to associate it with wedding ceremonies, writes Sounak Mukhopadhyay
Holi is typically celebrated as a Hindu festival, with Radha-Krishna being as the pivotal characters. But, there is nothing in this country that is exclusive to just one group of people. Not many are aware that Holi was gorgeously celebrated during the reigns of Mughal emperors like Akbar and Jahangir.
Things have changed. Instead of consuming natural intoxicators like bhang, people now prefer having alcohol on Holi. What was meant to be a celebration of togetherness now has a class system around it. The elites play it with their associates, and the commoners enjoy it with their peers. People do not like it when strangers try to mix in their groups. Now, as an extension of celebrating Holi privately among friends and relatives, the festival of colours has become a part of weddings.
The latest trend is to mix two exciting occasions to have even more fun. People are now organising weddings with the Holi theme. The Mehendi, the Haldi and even the Sangeet celebrations now have colours. And, it is extremely convenient to have a pool party at your backyard on Mehendi and Haldi. As you already have the water, you need to colour it up with all the shades in the palette. A pre-wedding Holi-themed party, especially when it’s a destination wedding, can be super fun.
Now, the question is how you are supposed to dress up for such occasion. The most common dress code to celebrate Holi is to wear whites. Wearing whites on weddings may look cool for a Bollywood song, but, according to wedding planner Vrinda Binani, white may not be an option for a Hindu wedding. “People don’t prefer wearing whites during Hindu weddings,” Vrinda says. “For a Holi-themed wedding, people rather prefer wearing florals. Colourful skirts and shorts are also in.”
A Holi-themed wedding could be a dream-come-true for photographers and the ones who get photographed. The magnificent colours around the bride and the groom have all the potential to make it an unforgettable experience. Ritika Deb from My Grand Wedding says it’s extremely important to plan it well ahead to have a successful photography session on such an occasion. The Chennai-based wedding planning company’s motto is to organize dream weddings for couples.
“For a session of magnificent photography on a Holi-based wedding, everything from the costume to the backdrop must be well-planned,” Ritika says. “Quite often, we plan the photo-shoot around the sunset when the sky has a plethora of colours. That, with the colourful décor, makes the photographs even more stunning.”
According to Ms Binani, the décor is carefully planned with the Holi theme in mind. “Colourful buckets and balloons are used for the decoration,” she says. “People get engaged in balloon-shooting games. Everything adds up to the core theme of the event.”
Ready for the mess?
Independent filmmaker Debjit Bagchi, who has attended many such events, thinks it’s a lot of fun for the people who attend it. “Such events are primarily organised in resorts or somewhere away from home,” Debjit says. “That’s why it can be super-fun, because you don’t have to bother about cleaning the mess afterwards. It suddenly converts a boring event like an engagement into something remarkable.”
However, for the ones who are getting married, it may still be messy. And, that’s why it’s not on everyone’s wishlist. Harshit Agarwal, who got married this December, is not very excited about having a Holi-themed wedding. Even if he had his marriage in February or March, he would not have opted for it. “Holi tends to be messy; I would like to look appropriate for the occasion,” Harshit says.
The Kolkata-based entrepreneur, who had his pre-wedding photo-shoot done in Jodhpur, says he would not have opted for a Holi-themed photoshoot either. And, the reason is the same: it might mess up the look. “I might be interested in having a small part of the celebration based on Holi, like Haldior something like that,” Mr Agarwal says. “But, having a Holi-based wedding is out of question also because it’s a family function involving a lot of rituals; it’s way more than partying with friends.”
Even Ritika admits that not everyone is interested in having a Holi-based wedding, especially the bride who wants to look her best for the wedding. “That’s why it’s more sensible to have a Holi-based Haldi or Mehendi,” Ms Deb says. “Even pre-wedding photo-shoots can be done with Holi as the theme.”
A royal affair
Holi was celebrated in a different form during the Mughal empire. In the times of Jahangir and Akbar, it was a grand affair with colours, rose water and perfume showered on Eid-e-Gulabi. Some of the modern-day paintings also depict Jahangir playing Holi with wife Noorjahan. The entire community used to have bhang together. Musical concerts used to be held all night. Bahadur Shah Zafar, as well as poets like Nazir Akbarabadi, Amir Khusrau and Nizammuddin Aulia, wrote songs for the occasion.
Keeping up with the tradition, a Holi-themed wedding may also be royal affair. Holi is used as a theme especially when it’s a destination wedding. “These days, people want to have destination weddings in places like Kerala, Goa or Rajasthan,” the wedding planner says. “If the theme is Holi, it makes it even more interesting.”
But, not everyone can afford to have a destination wedding. Not everyone can afford to have a Holi-based wedding for a number of other reasons.
According to Ritika, people who don’t want their special occasion to get messed up by colours opt for Brij Holi. It’s when you play Holi with petals of flowers. “Then again, it takes a lot of flowers to organize such events. That can be really expensive,” Ritika says. “We’d not suggest organizing Brij-Holi for people who have a limited budget for their wedding.”
It seems like a Holi-based wedding is an acquired taste. It takes a lot of money and two adventurous souls to go for it.