India: From Mughals to Sufi poets, Holi has been part of Muslim culture, literature


While most associate Holi with a Hindu ethos, even a cursory glance through the pages of history reveals otherwise. Holi always falls in the month of March, which in the Mughal era fell close on the heels of another significant festival, Navroz. Over time, both the festivals became twins.

The Mughals were known to be liberal and openly enjoyed celebrating Indian festivals. Abul Fazal writes in Ain-e Akbarithat Akbar used to start collecting beautiful squirts and syringes of different sizes throughout the year in anticipation. This was one of the rare occasions when Akbar would come out from his fort and play Holi with even the commoners. Tuzk-e-Jahangirimentions that Jahangir played Holi actively and organised musical gatherings.

Shajahan would watch the Holi celebrations from the jharokaof Red Fort. He also gave it the name Eid-e-Gulabi(the festival of colour), Jashn-e-Aab-Pashi (the festival of spraying water). During Shahjahan’s rule, a Holi fair was organised near what is today Rajghat which included pantomimes in which jesters would imitate the king and princes and nobody took offence. Bahadur Shah Zafar went as far as making Holi the official festival of the Red Fort and patronised a new genre of Urdu poetry called Hori, which was sung on the day of Holi.

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Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

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