Today was Holi, the Hindu festival of Spring and COLOR! The energy of this day was a mix of the chaos and revelry of St. Patrick’s Day and the awe and beauty of 4th of July fireworks. It is a beautiful celebration when everyone lets loose and plays with paint!
Indians gather on Holi to celebrate with family, friends, neighbors, classmates, coworkers, and unsuspecting strangers. Starting the week before the holiday one becomes vigilant, aware of the possibility of a prematurely festive encounter with colored powder, squirt guns, or water balloons – usually wielded by neighborhood boys. The festivities had taken off the night before Holi and as I rode from my office to cooking class I saw a number of people already covered in colored powder.
My roommates and I met up with our classmates at JNU which we were told has one of the best, and safest, Holi celebrations in the cities. Holi is not celebrated throughout India but Delhi does it up. Some cities, and parts of Delhi, can get pretty dangerous on Holi as some revelers also throw ink, oil-based paint, rotten eggs, or motor oil. Our Holi celebration was festive but limited, thankfully, to dry colors and water-soluble paint. It is suggested to wear all white on Holi – as the colors show more vividly – and people carry dry and wet colors to greet each other with “Happy Holi” and a sweep of powder on the other person’s face.
Within two minutes of leaving our apartment we met others celebrating Holi and soon after were covered in color. We met friends near the entrance of JNU and made our way to Jhelum Lawn, the congregating place for the celebration. It became increasingly difficult to recognize friends and classmates as layers of color covered everyone.
One of the funnest elements of Holi is seeing your friends transform from minute to minute as their faces, bodies, and clothes take on new bursts of color like an ever changing canvas of celebration! This day of color, joy, and unbridled playfulness will no doubt be one of my fondest memories of this year spent in India.
I hope these spring colors bring some fun and festivity to your day. Happy Holi!