According to Hindu Mythology, Vishnu – the Creator in the Divine Trinity of Hindu Gods – was incarnated in Earth as Sri Krishna in the Dvapara Yug. Mythology states that Krishna was disguised as a “Gop Balok”, and he spent his leisure with 108 Gopinis, including Bhagyabati.
Lore says that on the auspicious day of Basanta Purnima, the gardens of Brindavan, Nidhivan and Kunjavan were immersed in a riot of colours. This day evolved into an annual festival, called “Hori Khela” according to the Purans. Ultimately, Hori Khela wasn’t contained in the comparatively small gardens of Brindavan, and spread throughout the country – and the erstwhile name “Hori Khela” developed into the present “Holi Khela”. Holi can be categorized as a Festival of Colours.
It is almost normal for the Bard of Bengal, Rabindranath Tagore, to find mention in anything relating to India’s culture. When he established the Outdoor Education System in Shantiniketan, Bolpur, he felt that Holi shouldn’t be restricted to only Hindus. He wanted the festival to be celebrated by all communities and individuals, irrespective of religion, caste or creed. He dreamed of a festival that meshed the indescribable joy in the festival of colours with mesmerizing beats of music – forming a festival that would not fail to impart joy to whoever celebrated it. Rabindranath Tagore’s vision came to be known as the Boshonto Utshob, not unlike the Austrian Magic of Colours Festival.
“A Splash of Colour, a Flash of Smile”
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Boshonto Utshob is also celebrated on two places in Kolkata – Jorasanko Thakurbari, the palatial ancestral home of the Tagores’; and the Rabindra Bharati University, B.T. Road campus.
My upbringing was such that my days started with Rabindra Sangeet, and I was brought up to believe that the Bard of Bengal has created something for every phase of life and state of mind with his pen. I came to know about the Basanta Utsav from my mother in 2013, and had decided to visit either Jorasanko or Rabindra Bharati University the following year. In 2014, me and my partner-in-crime Swarnava visited Rabindra Bharati University during the Basanta Utsav – and the experience was worthwhile.
This year, an impromptu plan to visit the Jorasanko Thakurbari was made, and I was accompanied by Soumita (thanks for that). After reaching Jorasanko, I was surprised to see the number of Photographers present – the number was quite less two years ago. Attendees were clicking selfies with colour smeared faces. I am a Street Photography enthusiast, and I personally prefer clicking candid shots as opposed to posed shots. I managed to secure a spot to photograph the main program, where students of the various departments (music, dance, etc) performed. The students in a procession entered the field dancing to the tunes of the opening song, “Ohe re Grihobashi”. Their attire was fittingly graceful and colourful. The makeup on the faces of the participants were very light but they were all looking amazing. Simplicity at its best. It was an amazing experience to watch them dancing. Different songs from the “Boshonto Porjaay” of the Bard’s “Ritu Porjaay” were sung by the students, and accompanied by the students of the instrumental department. Following that was an Indian classical music fusion event where instruments like the tabla, guitar, keyboard, flute were played – personally i felt that was the best part in the whole program. After the whole program, everyone played Holi, smearing colours of each other’s faces.
Earlier, in the Maharshi Bhawan a.k.a. the “Thakur Dalan”, the students used to play Holi – and I was keen to capture some frames there – but I wasn’t able to as the event was called off due to some technical faults.
It was surely an experience worth remembering.
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