Hari and friends by Rajesh Iyer helps one rethink about the losing sheen of Indian festivals and the efforts that can be taken to preserve the tradition.
Growing up years are golden! Little wonder we tend to call them ‘wonder years’, especially in that crucial teen phase that includes the defining years in anyone’s life, perhaps setting the tone of the kind of human one turns into. The teen years are also filled with fun, frolic and events that we keep looking back at and continue to cherish for the rest of our lives.
Rajesh Iyer captures this through the eye of his protagonist Hari, who has to balance his worried family on one hand, and a motley group of friends on the other.
Hari and Friends – A Holi Adventure takes a look at another facet of this wonder years, which every young boy in north India would instantly identify with. The organizing of Holi celebrations in their colony, the collection of funds from colony members, the infighting among the boys in the group and the planning that goes in stealing wood to be burned in the Holi pyre were as much an integral part of the festival as the festival itself, though sadly hardly chronicled.
Rajesh Iyer captures this through the eye of his protagonist Hari, who has to balance his worried family on one hand, especially since Holi occurs just around the time final exams take place in schools and a motley group of friends on the other, none of whom have any experience in organizing such festivities.
What comes out for Hari, as also the readers, is a myriad colour of frenzied fun that small town growing up meant in the decades gone by. It’s great fun to revisit those years, especially when they plan for days how to steal wood for the neighbourhood colony and the confusion that ensues.
But for Hari, it is not just about stealing wood and other fun associated with Holi. It’s his own coming of age moment, with a strange revelation of life, when he realizes that life doesn’t function in the stark black and white he had known it to be till then, but with a tinge of unable-to-understand grey.
While subtly discussing about harder facts of life, Iyer also narrates the fun and frolic associated with Indian festivals which is long gone.
Festivals in India has lost its sheen. Holi was a festival that fascinated all the age groups. The word Holi is derived from the word “hola” the meaning of which is to offer prayers to the gods for good harvest. Holi has a lot of fascinating legends attached to it. But seldom do the children try to delve into the details of any festival. Here as the protagonist is hit by the hard fact of life, he also realises that good or bad, everything has to end one day and the author here has drawn a perfect analogy between the holy pyre, embers of fire and the deeper essence of existence which like fire burns aglow before getting metamorphosed in to ashes. The book is a perfect blend of black and white. While subtly discussing harder facts of life, Iyer also narrates the fun and frolic associated with Indian festivals which are long gone.
Once one gets sucked into the rigmarole of professional and family life, one barely has a chance to enjoy festivities.
There are various attempts to preserve our culture. Having a compulsory rule of wearing ethnic attires to the office on the day of the festival, distributing gifts and receiving bonuses are conspicuous attempts of preserving our corroding culture. Sure, children enjoy the festive atmosphere and engage in celebrations along with their peers but very often for grown-ups, such celebrations are too much of hassle. Although still many participate in the rituals surrounding the celebrations, many nowadays stay away from it. Hari and friends by Rajesh Iyer help one rethink about the losing sheen of Indian festivals and the efforts that can be taken to preserve the tradition.
It’s a fun-filled novella that is sure to take you down memory lane. Go, relive your life!
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.