Spring is greeted in many ways around the world. One of the most joyous and definitely the most colorful is the Hindu celebration of HOLI. A three day festival based on a lunar calendar, Holi is celebrated at the end of the winter season on the first full moon day of the month of Phalguna (Feb/Mar). The night before the big day bonfires are lit to commemorate how Prahlad (a staunch devotee of Vishnu) survived, due to his devotion, being dragged into fire by a demon. After the fires are lit, prayers are offered and praise given.
The main day of the festival itself is generally celebrated by the throwing of perfumes and scented powders on everyone, dancing to loud upbeat music and eating of much food. The main reason for such joy is that spring has returned; however, this is the one festival where usually strict social borders such as caste, sex and station are ignored. All celebrate together and everyone rejoices and socializes with everybody. Men dance with women, Brahmin frolic with untouchables and rich and poor are the same…all children of the Gods.
In February of 2008 the KENZO house released a limited edition flanker of their scent Amour. Created jointly by Olivier Cresp and Daphne Bugey, Indian Holi was timed to be released with that year’s celebration worldwide. In some countries, sets containing the perfume and the book “Indian Holi” by Veronique Durruty were released. The flacon, colored bright red with gold Hindi markings was (like many Kenzo bottles are) a work of art. Now discontinued, this limited edition flanker is worth seeking out.
The opening a floral accord of rose, accented by fruity blossoms, reminds us that spring is returning. The addition of rice in the top notes adds a feeling of the bright dry powders thrown with wild abandon during the celebration and wisps of incense create the feeling of a sacred celebration. The heart of Amour Indian Holi is exotic and warm. Lush frangipani and a creamy, yet dry, peony support the flowers from the opening. Pink peppercorns add a lively step to the dance of flowers. The base of sandalwood, vanilla, musk and a delicate mélange of spices couldn’t be any more oriental if it tried, though it never gets too serious or heavy. Much like the celebration itself, Amour Indian Holi is dry and colorful, joyous and free, spicy and fun…just like its namesake.
This year Holi will be celebrated from March 7 – 9. You may not celebrate this publicly with the fervor and passion the Hindus do, but maybe lighting a scented pillar candle with some sweet incense and donning your favorite spicy floral perfume while wearing bright rainbow colored clothing would suffice. Perfume is something that spans cultural gaps, language barriers and even time itself. Spring IS just around the corner, let’s try and remember we are all of us divine creatures and that every once in a while you need to “blow off the dust” (or get covered in it) and have some good old fashioned fun!!
This review was written from sprays to the backs of my hands from my mother’s collection.
–John Reasinger, Weekly Contributor