Holi

Holi, what an incredible celebration. Possibly a day in which every child is granted permission to what could perhaps be a favorite hobby. A hobby that on any other day, is frowned upon.

Terrorizing people- friends as well as strangers. The piece that makes this day slightly better, even, is that it’s done with color-BRIGHT ones.

We woke up late, and as I got out of bed and walked into another room, I was immediately surrounded by loud music and screaming-happy screaming of course. My focus was drawn directly to the open window, and I peered outside to see where these sounds came from.

Eight floors down, the sidewalks and parking lots had been painted an array of color. Not in any beautiful design, completely done with spontaneity and poor aim. Children ran around a playground throwing colored powder and water balloons at one another.

The previous day Diya and I had been hit by a number of water balloons while traveling via auto. Gangs of kids stood by the roads hitting cars and autos. Not maliciously, under hand tosses mostly, followed by a lot of success. Attempting to find the apartment, we drove and then walked through what felt like a mine field- a huge group of kids covered head to toe with color, all holding balloons and buckets. These kids, however, were playing together and targeting no outsiders (which was appreciated!). The guys had cooked dinner for us, which was delicious, although the Veg food was store bought- still incredible (way better than mess food!). We went on a walk after eating, and there was a mass walking around a huge pile of sticks that had been set afire.

One explanation for the holiday: “There are many legends given as the reason for celebrating ‘Holi’. There is one popular legend that is reputed to bring about the birth of ‘Holi’. It seems that long ago there was an evil king named King Hiranyakasipu. His son, prince Prahlad however was very holy and often prayed to God and this infuriated his father. One day, the wicked king ordered his sister, the demon Holika, to kill his son. The demon Holika, who was immune to fire, captured prince Prahlad and entered a fire furnace. She had done this to kill the prince, however it was her who was burnt to ashes. Prince Prahlad was safe and was not burnt at all. The legend goes that before the demon aunt died, she begged for prince Prahlad’s forgiveness and the prince forgave her and announced that her name would be remembered once a year. Thus the festival ‘Holi’ was created.”

This fire was part of the celebration. We walked down the road to prepare ourselves with the necessary supplies for the holiday. Greeted by an array of intensely colored powders with labels reading off unfamiliar chemical names, we piled bags of greens, blues, purples, yellows, golds, silvers, pinks and reds into a plastic bag, along with a water gun or two, paid, and headed home. I fell asleep on and off while everyone hung out (it was very odd- I am convinced that the abnormal exhaustion was due to my constant distraction by everything I passed on the street, a new landscape, new rules, new situations, and the desire to absorb everything).

We slept and we had Chai in the morning while waiting for everyone to get up. I sat and watched a show about inventions with one of the roommates. Out the door- autos- to a friends house. Staring out the window- everyone had spots of color (at least). This includes the cows, dogs, business men and women, autos, cars, and all the roads. Gangs of kids roaming- completely covered and dripping with purple water.

Upon arrival, we found a Holi party taking place on the first floor, and were greeted with a lot of attention, being the only people in the place with clean clothes and recognizable skin tones. In telling someone “Happy Holi”, a person must be prepared with color in one (but preferably both) hand(s). The words are not enough, and the rubbing of colored powder all over the head of the next person gives it meaning. Very friendly water balloon fights took place between people of all ages, and it took less than 2 minutes to be covered in water and color.

Bhang, a drink traditionally consumed on Holi.

Diya and Shiparna,

This was just the beginning.

The Holi party we went for was on the roof of an apartment center. Friends of these two played hosts. A young girl joined us who. I am fairly confident she was an avatar, for she was thin with long dark hair and dyed completely purple/blue. There were huge metal containers which are generally used for cooking huge amounts of Briyani on the streets, but today found themselves full of colorful water, reloading water guns, and helplessly dunked people.

All ages, music, drinks, and terrorizing. This went on for a long while, all morning in fact. We eventually ordered food- pizza. Being the only vegetarian (which everyone was-again-very startled and confused by), they ordered me my own mini veg pizza- which was lovely!

Finally, we got exhausted and retreated into an apartment. An apartment that had been prepared to receive us (note the sheets on the floor and the upside down mattress). We had our pizzas (mine had beautifully places mushrooms, baby corn, and peppers neatly set across its surface).

We listened to music, watched a short movie, and relaxed. Their dog hung with us, as well. He had suffered very minimal Holi damage to his beautiful white coat.

Today was incredible. The holiday, could potentially be a new favorite.

The only things bought are colors, food, and drinks. The day is spent with friends, color, and sun. There are no presents, just playing and then relaxing. Incredible. I WILL be back for Holi, and Corey and Mike have both already promised to join me sometime- so thats an open invite- you guys (at home) don’t want to miss this.

Eventually we went back to the apartment and too the longest cold shower I have ever had. I can take long showers, but never I have I spent the whole time scrubbing. A constant stream of purple ran from my hair, and color (in lucky scenarios) off and down my skin. Permanent colors, however, were involved, and those have still stuck (its been three days!). My hair looks like I tried to dye it purple, and my nails and my fingers are all a dark pink.

March 4, 2010. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.