New Delhi: Holi has a special place for pichkari (water gun). The festival celebrates the liveliness of colors through the essence of abeer (gulaal) and pichkaris filled with colored water. People from ancient times have been taking extreme pleasure and delight in spraying coloured water on each other with water guns.
Pichkari's significance in Holi festival comes a long way from the times of Lord Krishna. It's believed that Lord Krishna started the trend of playfully spraying water on gopis of the village from his modest bamboo Pichkari. These beliefs have been put into beautiful lyrics that make up the "Raags of Phag", the classical Holi songs.
The Bollywood songs also mention the playfulness of pichkaris. The most remembered lines happen to be from a song in the film Silsila “Rang Barse Bheege Chunarwali Rang Barse, Arre Keene Maari Pichkari Tohri Bheegi Angiya, Ho Rang Rasiya, Rang Rasiya Ho.”
Even the new Bollywood films don't miss to highlight the significance of pichkari in holi. The song “Balam Pichkari” is a live example of the statement.
Although, pichkari or water gun got patented by a NASA Engineer JW Wolff in 1896. But the tradition of playing Holi with a water gun called pichkari is at least 1,100 years old. Since ancient times, Indians have used this gadget to make the festival of colours more enjoyable.
Chennakeshava Temple of Belur, Karnataka that was built back in 12th Century, has stone wall carvings that depict Madanika Devi playing Holi. There's an engraved statue that can be clearly seen with pichkari.
Another ancient temple in Hampi, Karnataka, the Mahanavami Dibba was built by King Krishnadevaraya in 1513 AD. The walls of the temple have engraved statues of women playing Holi using pichkari and carved tubs.
From easy bamboo squirters, pichkaris advanced into steel and brass cylinders with a picket handle that would act as a force to permit water to enter and pushed to unleash it at the supposed person.
Plastic water guns followed. These branched into engaging variants in pretty colours and completely different sizes and shapes – pink ocean horses, blue pistols and yellow dragons. In a span of a few years, the designs kept evolving with a notion that people need to arm themselves with new versions of Pichkaris each Holi. Now, they are available in numerous shapes such as Trishools to Spiderman to athletics cars, robots, and even Pokemon!
These days pichkaris come with tanks so you don't have to scuttle to the bucket on every occasion your Pichkari runs out of water. The technologically improvised pichkaris have more than one nozzle and they have got channels for different water colours as well.
Krishna's pichkari pranks centuries later, has sparked off a rage, inspiring high-end gizmos still masquerading as pichkaris, but in reality, it's a miniature scientific marvel in itself.