>So I went for my first Holi Festival.
Holi, or the Festival of Colours, has been defined as one of the most fun-filled and energetic festivals in India and is also celebrated in many places the world over. People usually celebrate it by throwing coloured powder and water on one another. The Festival is considered a great leveler because distinctions of class, age and gender or any inequalities which act as barriers are suspended; when you’re covered head to toe with coloured dust, it’s really hard to say who’s who.
I had this vague idea of people daintily dusting coloured powder on themselves and a lot of cheesy hindi music being played and I’d always wanted to go, so it was really fun seeing how it was set up and how everything was done. I was going alone and I didn’t know anyone there so I went prepared with the fact that I probably wouldn’t get much water/powder on me.
The coloured powders are heaped onto silver trays and pichkaris (squirt guns) are stacked up on two tables. (Even the babies got pint sized sprays, to fit their tiny hands). Large canisters of water were kept in a corner for refills and there was plenty of food and drinks under the canopies set up on the other end and once the music started playing, everyone was set to go.
I love colours, so I was perfectly content sitting on the grass watching everyone being engulfed in mists of purple, violent pinks and greens. It’s lovely watching people of all ages with a fistful of powder and squirt gun in hand, laughingly chase each other, stopping every now and then to dance to the music.
The beauty of it is that everyone there eventually gets smeared with coloured powder. If you’re not keen on being covered head to toe in colour/water, you can tactfully escape with a token smear on your cheeks and forehead. Even the DJ was initiated with red streaks on his cheeks.
So, while I was laughingly watching everyone (but secretly dying to jump in, but not sure how) and sticking out conspicuously – stark white in a sea of colour – I saw two guys approaching me with broad grins on their face. I knew it didn’t bode well for me so I promptly turned and fled.
They clearly felt that the lack of colour on me was an inequality which needed to be remedied immediately and easily caught me (I knew I should’ve done athletics in school), resolutely pinned me down (it was only at this point that I fully comprehended how boisterous the festival got) and scrubbed me with coloured powder. My pleas of ‘But I wear contaaaaaacts!’ were muffled as they added their finishing touches to their kaleidoscopic, multihued and somewhat hoarse (I couldn’t run, but I made up for it with loud yells) magnum opus that I had by now metamorphosed into.
While they were finishing up, everyone else gleefully jumped in to add their bit to ‘the tall girl’ and by the time they were done with me, my face was one big colour palette, with only my teeth and eyes visible.
By this time, there was no need for formalities, so I grabbed a squirt gun and handfuls of powder and very happily doused everyone in reach. Anyone who got tired usually wandered off to the food tents for a drink (or four) and sauntered back to join the fray.
The two guys who first started it off, took it as a personal affront if I wasn’t immersed in colour every few minutes or had dried off, and made it their responsibility to make sure that momentum was retained right throughout by the simple means of readily bathing me with powder every time they passed me by.
I really enjoyed myself all in all; discounting the time I swallowed a significant amount of powder and felt queasy. I’d like to go with a crowd next time, it’s a lot more fun when you know the name of the person of whose shirt you’re manically squirting water into.
Also, if anyone tells you the powder washes off easily, hit them. It took a two hour shower to get rid of my green hair, purple hands and red crusted eyelashes. And I still keep finding pink powder behind my ear.
Ps – As you can see, I was very excited about my first Holi. Hence the details.