Holi 2008

 Mumbai, India: June 13, 2008

The last time I had the opportunity to play Holi in India, was when I was fourteen years old. My nana and nani, still had a bungalow (before it was turned in to an apartment building) and the entire of Juhu Scheme had a water balloon fight. I didn’t enjoy it much, probably because I was targeted by a bunch of ill behaved boys. They broke my glasses and I can still remember the pain and embarrassment of all those water balloons hitting me.

This Holi, however, was the best time I have ever had during a holy day (pun intended). I must say that I have changed a lot since I was fourteen. I have come out of my ‘shell’ as most young women do by now. I am more understanding of people, their need for joy and myself. I am able to express myself to the world with confidence, genuineness and joy. On a day like Holi, millions feel this joy and I was so fortunate to have connected with people through this emotion.

I celebrated with Shikha didi and Isha Lakhani (our fellow Indian tennis compatriot). We first played Holi in my building with our young neighbors. However, as one of the young boys grew more and more violent, us girls thought it wise to retreat back upstairs. Soon enough, the car came to take us to one of our cousins building party. As we entered the celebration,  colored water sprinklers set off and drenched all four hundred people! There was a live DJ, (thanks to Big 92 fm), mounds of holi rang, free food and drinks. People of all ages, sizes and colors (literally) came to dance, play and laugh in the holi mela.

What a time we had, Shikha didi, Isha, Romit (Romit Raj the TV serial actor), Raja Bhya and Shikha babhi (yes she has the same name as my sister). We danced and laughed and threw rang on each other for 3 hours straight! The four of us Shikha didi, Isha, Romit and I were so uninhibited we didn’t care who was there or if any one was watching us. I danced my and heart out in a kind of trance you only witness in the movies or in holy, (holi) rituals.

We came home exhausted but with full spirits and  beaming smiles. My smile lasted as long as the color did on my body! Does anybody know why green rang takes the longest to come off?

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Neha Uberoi Khangoora

Neha Uberoi Khangoora is a former professional tennis player, social entrepreneur and health and wellness advocate. She is the co-founder of South Asians in Sports (sainsports.com), a network of South Asian professionals who work in the sports industry.