I but the prince survived unscathed while

I patiently hid behind the bush,
waiting for the perfect opportunity to ambush my friend, Shana. Even though she
is already covered with color, I will still feel immensely satisfied when I
smear some pink colored powder on her face; though it may not be visible, the
mischief is worth it.

One of the most vibrant festivals
of India is Holi, and one that I always look forward to. Holi is celebrated
over two days filled with color, laughter, and excitement.  On the first night, known as Chotti Holi,
people make a bonfire and walk around it a few times, believing that the fire
will cleanse their soul.  This belief
originates from Hindu mythology. In short it is said that Holika, a demoness,
was granted a boon by the Hindu god, Lord Brahma, which made her immune to fire.
As the second wife of a king, her son was not permitted to ascend to the throne.
In a jealous rage, she attempted to kill the other prince by jumping into a bonfire
along with him, but the prince survived unscathed while Holika perished in the
fire. This tale validates the belief that good will always prevail over evil,
and this particular day of triumph is known as Holi.

The second day, begins
with making sweets for family and friends and is followed by my favorite part
of the festival- the color and water fights. Around eight in the morning my
friends and I head down to the park located within our colony, and develop
strategies on how to beat the boys. Within an hour, we usually exhaust all our
color powder, and soon start a water fight, stealing each other’s water
balloons, water guns and all the other things that might give the boys an
advantage. To keep our energy up, we drink ‘Thandai’, a special drink made only
during Holi, full of almonds, saffron, milk, sugar and a variety of herbs.

By midafternoon,
everyone is drenched in a muddy mix of colors and water. We usually leave
behind the mess that we create, because we are too hungry to think about
anything else but a hearty lunch and, subsequently, the final feast of the day.
Imagine a long table crammed with several delicacies like “kachori”, a delicious,
deep-fried, puffed pastry filled with a spicy moong dal mixture. I can almost
taste the melt-in-your-mouth flakey outer crust and the hollow inside filled
with a tangy tamarind chutney.

By now you might have realized that Holi
involves a lot of water and colors. Although it is a lot of fun, people have
forgotten to look at the damage it causes or has caused. Not only do these chemicals cause water
and air pollution, they  also cause: copper sulphate in green leading
to eye allergies and temporary blindness, the mercury sulphide  in red color causing skin cancer and other
problems like mental retardation, impaired vision and paralysis. The chromium
iodide contained in the purple color giving rise to bronchial asthma and
allergies. The aluminum iodide in the silver color containing carcinogenic and
the Prussian blue found in blue color can give rise to contact dermatitis. These
are just few chemicals that are highly harmful to humans. Moreover the amount
of water wasted is too much. With people rallying for water, states and
countries fighting for water, we need to preserve all the water we have. According
to times of India one person uses two fifteen liter buckets of water on one day
of Holi. Now imagine if the whole of India decided to waste that much water,
then soon not only India, even other countries will have water shortage.