Holi in Delhi University hostels

Categories Delhi

It’s been more than a decade since passing out. But one still remembers the holis celebrated in hostels. In Delhi University north campus, there were a few traditions that were repeated, year after year.
The hostelers would dig up a man sized hole and water the mud to prepare it for the “holy dip” on the day of the holi. On the morning of the holi, each of us had to march out of the rooms and walk to the front yard of the hostel, fully dressed. A bunch of rowdies will land on each new entrant, tear his t-shirt apart, pick him up, dump him in the hole and then pile on him. A few used to turn up topless to save the t-shirts, they would be sent back to come clothed.

There used to be a large drum of thandai that I never managed to drink from. Someone will jump in, throw some mud in or do whatever to spoil it. Then, the great t-shirt war would begin. Torn t-shirts would be dipped in mud, rolled up as balls and then used as missiles to hit each other. My first year in hostel, we had ruined every wall across all three floors with mud marks. In the evening, we observed each one and tried to make sense of them if they were Rorschach tests.

Once all the in-hostel madness was over, each men’s hostel used to take out a procession. The objective was to reach the women’s hostel, touch the walls and come back. Usually, it was easier said than done as the women’s hostels had police barricades.

Now, coming to the deviants, there would always be a few that would refuse to participate. Solution? Break the glass on top of the door, pull chairs and take turns at being the spotter. Some others would run to collect eggs, garbage, dirty clothes..whatever one could get one’s hands on. The spotter would shout out what he could see inside the room – the computer, clothes, bed – and would ask the mob for suggestions on what to hit. Once the retribution was over, the corridor used to stink for weeks.

In the evenings, there would be water wars. All three floors filling their buckets in the bathrooms and throwing water at the corridor below. Now, looking back, it does seem juvenile and a little hard to believe how much energy we had to do all those horrible things.

But such are memories. Decent things hardly make it to the slideshow of life.