How Food Evokes Memories And Joy During The Festival of Colours

Food has an unusual capacity to arouse memories and stir emotions, creating an array of nostalgia that ties us to our past and bringing us closer to it. The aroma of traditional delicacies fills the air and sends us back to cherished moments of celebration and togetherness. This connection between food and memory becomes even more powerful when we are in the midst of the vibrant festivities that are associated with Holi. 

The enticing aroma of homemade gujiyas, mathris, and a variety of sweets emerging from Indian kitchens is the first thing that many people think of when they think of Holi. More than just a source of food, these delectable preparations are emblematic of the bonds of love, tradition, and family. The spirit of Holi itself is embodied in these time-honoured recipes, which take centre stage as extended families get together to celebrate the festival of colours. 

The festival of Holi is a time of cheerful celebration in Jain households, and it is characterised by the creation and consumption of mouthwatering dishes. Beginning on the day before the holiday, known as Choti Holi, the kitchen transforms into a bustling centre of activity as family get together to work on preparing homemade sweets and savoury appetisers. Even while the convenience of store-bought gujiyas may have made its way into some families, many people still prefer the traditional manner of preparing them at home. They value the link to their tradition that comes from preparing these sweets from scratch. 

Similarly, in Marwari households, the celebration of Holi revolves around the sharing of food and the creation of cherished memories. While gujiyas are a common sight on the festive menu, each family puts its unique spin on the traditional fare. For some, the avoidance of fried foods during Holi leads to the preparation of lighter dishes such as moong dal and kadhi served with rice. Sweets, if consumed, are often non-fried varieties like shakkar or gud, reflecting a commitment to tradition and health-consciousness. 

In the sacred city of Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna and a hub of Holi celebrations, food takes on a deeper significance. Here, the preparation of gujiyas is not just a culinary tradition but a spiritual offering, with families preparing these sweet treats to offer to the deity in their homes. On the day of the festival, the festivities kick off with a breakfast of jalebi and thandai, sourced from the famous sweet shops of Mathura. However, it's the preparation of bhang-infused thandai that truly sets the tone for the day, with elders mixing the concoction a day in advance to ensure its potency. As chilled glasses of thandai are passed around, laughter and joy fill the air, setting the stage for a day of revelry and merriment. 

However, despite all of the merriment, Holi is significant to many people on a deeper level. It is a time to let go of negativity and welcome new beginnings, which is represented by the process of taking a ritual bath and dressing in attire that is clean and vibrant before going to the temple. During the celebration of Holi, the streets are painted in various shades of red, yellow, green, and blue. However, it is the warmth of family, the richness of tradition, and the flavour of home-cooked meals that truly bring the festival to life. Not only do we taste the flavours of Holi in every bite of gujiya or sip of thandai, but we also experience the essence of beloved memories that connect us together as a community.