War Spices (a.k.a. "Chatka")

War Spices are a traditonal means of preparing the populace, especially military personnel for the possibility of war. Based on religious laws, Food is the essence of life, from which things unfold. “Everything is centered in food, the evil deeds of man resort to their food. Whoever eats the food of another partakes of that man’s sin". Bonfires are lit the day before a battle, also known as Holika Dahan (burning of Holika) or Chhoti Holi (little Holi). From the ashes of these bonfires are the spices and powders which create war spices.

Each nation has their own particular blend of war spices. Principal ingredients of war spices are Abeer and Gulal, in all possible colours. Next comes squirting of coloured water using pichkaris. Coloured water is prepared using Tesu flowers, which are first gathered from the trees, dried in the sun, and then ground up, and later mixed with water to produce orange-yellow coloured water. Another traditional Holi item now rarely seen is a where a red powder enclosed in globes of Lakh, which break instantly and covering the party with the powder. People also mix war spices in their drinks and food. It is believed that the combination of different colours played at this festival take all the sorrow away and make a warrior more powerful on the battlefield.

Those who have partaken of the Chatka report a fury wherein, "This fury, which was called chatkanaya, occurred not only in the heat of battle, but also during laborious work. Men who were thus seized performed things which otherwise seemed impossible for human power. This condition is said to have begun with shivering, chattering of the teeth, and chill in the body, and then the face swelled and changed its colour. With this was connected a great hot-headedness, which at last gave over into a great rage, under which they howled as wild animals, bit the edge of their shields, and cut down everything they met without discriminating between friend or foe. When this condition ceased, a great dulling of the mind and feebleness followed, which could last for one or several days."

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