(100-word flash fiction)

It is Holi. The neighbourhood youth are gathering logs and twigs for the bonfire.

She takes her wedding sari out and weeps into it. Endless pain after years of abuse comes pouring out, soaking the red silk into a dull-blood burgundy.

The lit bonfire is steadily growing.

She takes the mangal-sutra off her neck and tucks it into the soggy sari.

The fire is a roaring beast, flicking tongues of pure flame.

She walks to the bonfire and tosses the sari into it.

Elsewhere, her husband, quite by accident, trips on a naked, high-voltage wire and fries to death.


The festival of Holi begins on the night before when a bonfire is lit and people perform rituals in front of it. The name comes from the mythological story in which the demoness Holika is burnt to death by Lord Vishnu and symbolises the triumph of good over evil. It takes place at the end of winter and a deeper meaning suggests getting rid of all internal, unwanted garbage (the diseased, decaying and dead) in us, so that we can welcome the oncoming spring purged and fresh. Holi – or the festival of colours begins the next morning with the smearing of colour on each other in a friendly, playful, and relaxed atmosphere. The many hues of colour signify the new, emerging colours of spring. It is also harvest season and the time to meet and rejoice, end past conflicts and mend broken relationships.

The mangal-sutra (literally meaning blessed thread) is tied around the bride’s neck by the groom during the wedding.  A Hindu married woman wears it until she dies or becomes a widow.

It’s Wednesday night and time for the weekly Friday Fictioneers fix. Thanks Rochelle for being such a champ and hosting it every week and for faithfully reading ALL our stories 🙂

Photo prompt –

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields


55 comments on “Holi

  1. Dear Joyful,

    Divine justice served it seems. So much emotion and layered story bound with a mangal-sutra. I love it.
    I do have a question for you. How did you get from the prompt to this story? Mind you, I love it when a writer isn’t literally bound to a photo. I’m geniunely curious. (As far as I’m concerned, the rules are followed as long as the prompt is posted 😉 )



    • Thanks for the praise Rochelle. To be honest I had the same thought about your story but then I was reminded oh Thoreau’s quote. For me the light glowing in the surrounding darkness reminded me of the Holi bonfire 😊

  2. Love the symbolism of removing her mangal-sutra – a telling part of the tale. I wonder if she already knows she’s a widow or has just decided enough is enough? Lovely contrast of personal drama amid the celebrations and a nice take on the prompt

  3. That’s a good story, with so much implied rather than spoken. Thank you so much for the notes, which gave westerners like me enough cultural background to understand some of the implications.

      • This week has been weird for me. I do family history at a fairly deep and social level and was contacted by a distant family member and found out I have an extended family of Indiginous Australians, in addition to my Irish roots. It’s been fascinating.

      • I would like to. At the moment, I’ve been in contact with a third party and he has made any suggestion about meeting up. However, I’m going to send out some feelers. I’d also like to put some feelers out in Ireland. Much of my family came from Cork and I have a feeling they’re interconnected going back.

  4. Whao, what an ending, I didn’t see that coming. Great story. The added information makes it even better. I find it interesting how the purpose of Holi resembles our Carnival or Fasching we have here. It’s the same principle, drive out old and evil spirits, celebrate spring by dressing up, being merry, sometimes a bit too merry…

C'mon, don't be a silent spectator ....

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