Painting minds with the colour of love: Amma celebrates Holi

15 March, 2006 – Jaipur, Rajasthan, and the Rajasthan–Haryana border on NH7

Holi is mainly a North Indian tradition. As such, in Amma’s youth she never threw about the celebratory powdered paints as people do in places like Mumbai, Jaipur and Delhi. And even though Amma has been in the North during Holi almost every year since 1985, she had never joined in…. But there is a first time for everything.

This year, Amma was in Jaipur on the holiday. Her programme there finished around 4:00 Holi morning, and Amma then returned to the devotees’ house where she was staying. The brahmacharis, brahmacharinis and devotees travelling with Amma also returned to their accommodation at a nearby school.

Around 11:00 a.m. Amma came down to the living room where all the members of the joint-family household were waiting. The devotees requested Amma to sit on a couch and then began singing their favourite traditional Holi songs to her. They also played the harmonium and kept time on large hand cymbals. Holi is a very popular festival in Jaipur, and the family was obviously in bliss to be able to have their beloved Amma in their home for the occasion. The joy of the family reflected on Amma’s face, and she soon began to clap along enthusiastically to their bhajans.

After a few songs, the head of the house approached Amma with a tiny, silver pichkari [water-pump gun] and a finger bowl of sandal-paste water—the perfect squirter and “paint” for a refined and reserved Holi celebration. Amma picked up the pichkari, drew up some sandal-paste water and, to the delight of the devotees, began squirting them as they sang.

After some time a second offering was made to Amma—a tray carrying generous piles of green, orange, red and pink powdered paint. Would Amma take things up a notch?

Try ten.

Grabbing handful after handful of powder, Amma began tossing the colours around, hitting everyone, young and old alike. The beautiful living room was soon consumed in a massive cloud of colours.

When the fog cleared, the family began playing more bhajans, and Amma clapped hands with various members of the family to the beat. As the music raised in tempo, the men, women and children all began dancing. This inspired Amma to throw another round of colours and, eventually, to begin dancing herself. At the end of one song, the devotees started standing up, pointing their finger at the ceiling and joyously calling out, “Radhe!” Eventually Amma too rose to her feet and, with both hands pointing upwards, called out the longest “Radheee!” of the celebration.

In her satsang the night before {news}, Amma had prayed that her children’s lives become “filled with the colour of bliss.” Certainly, in Jaipur that prayer came true.


Later that day, just before sunset, maybe a 100 metres before entering Haryana, Amma met up with all the brahmacharis, brahmacharinis and devotees accompanying her on the tour. Her camper and all the buses pulled off to the side of the highway.

By this time almost everyone had heard that Amma had celebrated Holi at the devotees’ house. In fact, back in Jaipur, many of the ashramites themselves had been “Holi-ed” {full report}. They had been accommodated inside a wall-fortified school, but almost everyone that had ventured outside—to the delight of a few and to the chagrin of most—had been caught by various packs of celebrators. In the end, some of the ashramites had fully joined in, and, as such, about a third of Amma’s children wore signs of the celebration on their white saris and dhotis, heads and faces. However the majority had escaped unscathed.

But almost as soon as Amma sat down in the field, someone handed her a packet of florescent orange powder… then a packet of florescent pink powder… Amma then told everyone to close their eyes. Nervous laughter began to erupt here and there. A mischievous smile began spreading across Amma’s face. She then reached into the bags of powder and began tossing handfuls this way and that. It was like the morning all over again. You could hardly see for all the paint. The brahmacharis, brahmacharinis, devotees, Amma—everyone was covered in colours.

When Amma finished her initial joyous attack, she then reached up and liberally smeared orange paint across her own two cheeks! Everyone sat there looking up at the beaming smile upon her glowing face.

A young Japanese lady was sitting to Amma’s right. She was one of those who had been hit back in Jaipur. Now her face and sari showed the aftermaths of not one but two Holi celebrations. Lovingly looking into the lady’s pink and orange face, Amma reached down with her right index finger and painted the mantra “Om” on top of the lady’s cleanly shaven head.

As the sun set, the sky also joined in Amma’s celebration.

It is said that Sri Krishna used to throw the colours around with his devotees, the gopis of Vrindavan. Through such joyous and loving actions, he stole their hearts and forged in them an unbreakable bond—a bond that would eventually transcend time and space, and take them to the divine realization that, in truth, there is nothing but God. Had Amma been doing anything less?