In India, Holi (the “festival of colors” or the “festival of love”) announces the arrival of spring and the passing of winter. The festival signifies the victory of good over evil and for many a festive day to meet others, play, laugh, forget, forgive, repair broken relationships, and is also celebrated as a thanksgiving for a good harvest. Holi lasts for two days starting on the Purnima (Full Moon day). This year’s Holi celebrations start on Sunday March 12th’s full moon with a Holika bonfire where people gather, do religious rituals in front of the bonfire, and pray that their internal evil should be destroyed as the bonfire starts. Then Monday morning is celebrated as Rangwali Holi – a free-for-all carnival of colors. Anyone and everyone is fair game, friend or stranger, rich or poor, man or woman, children and elders. The frolic and fight with colors occurs in the open streets, open parks, outside temples and buildings. Groups carry drums and other musical instruments, go from place to place, sing and dance. People visit family, friends and foes to throw colored powders on each other, laugh, and then share Holi delicacies, food and drinks. Some customary drinks such as those that include bhang (marijuana) are intoxicating. In the evening, after sobering up, people dress up and visit friends and family.
Holi has long traditional links with several legends. According to one popular legend, the word Holi is derived from the demoness, Holika. She was the sister of Hiranya Kashipu (the name meaning love of gold and a soft bed), a demon king, who having defeated the gods, proclaimed his supremacy over everyone else in the Universe. Enraged over his son’s ardent devotion to Lord Vishnu, Hiranya Kashipu decides to punish him. He takes the help of his sister, Holika, who is immune to any damage from fire. Holika carries the small boy Prahlad into the fire but a divine intervention destroys her and saves Prahlad from getting burned. Thus Holi is celebrated to mark the burning of the evil Holika. Her effigy is consumed in the fire! The color, noise and entertainment that accompanies the celebration of Holi bears witness to a feeling of oneness and sense of brotherhood. The festival brings home the lesson of spiritual and social harmony!!
Roark’s arrival in the Indian crossroads city of Madurai was both a godsend and a curse. Hundreds of kilometers, liters of sweat and countless beers had delivered us to the gates of insanity. The city was alight with tuk-tuks, potholes, teahouses and temples. We dropped our gear at the cursed, hollowed shell of a hotel and set out into the depths of the ancient city. Our timing into Madurai shot us straight through the heart of festival season. And with festival season comes an endless, visceral scene of Rangoli. The entire city was awash in the vibrant colors and floral patterns. Everything from city blocks to entire elephants was covered with impressions of deities, flowers and infinite, geometric patterns.
It was this psychedelic madness that led to Roark’s Rangoli collection. Enjoy the Holi Rangoli short sleeve woven, boardshort, hat and T-Shirt all inspired by the festival of colors!