I’m sorry everyone – it seems that when I posted this entry yesterday I did so without an image. Here is my post again – this time in colour!
Today, March 13th, is Holi in India and by this time these coloured powders will have been thrown at anyone (or any animal) that was within throwing distance.
Holi is a festival to celebrate the beginning of spring and the triumph of good over evil. It’s a day to forgive and forget, to make amends, and to also have lots of fun with your friends and family!
Actually, at least in Rajasthan where I’ve experienced Holi several times, today is the second day of Holi, Rangwali (rang means colour in Hindi). Yesterday, on the full moon, was Holika Dahan or Chhoti Holi (little Holi). Holika Dahan refers to the burning of the evil witch Holika. On the eve of Holi, on Holika Dahan, people make bonfires outside their homes and in the street to celebrate the triumph of good over evil and to symbolically burn their own internal evils.
Today is the day that has become famous all over the world as the festival of colours. In the weeks leading up to Holi, vendors everywhere sell coloured powders, and others sell water guns to those people that would rather shoot coloured water than throw coloured powder. The morning is a free-for-all. If you step outside, you WILL be covered in colour, one way or another – there’s no escaping it!
In the afternoon an unspoken cease-fire is declared, and people visit their friends and family to eat, drink and relax… often in a fresh set of clothes.
The two times that I’ve experienced Holi in India have been in Pushkar, and to be honest I’ve haven’t enjoyed it, well not the morning at least. My eyes are sensitive and getting powder in them, which is unavoidable, irritates and hurts! And the music of choice is techno, which I really don’t like. Pushkar is well-known for Holi and a lot of Western tourists converge on the town for what seems to be a colour-powdered rave that I think perhaps is fueled by more than just bhang (an edible form of cannabis often mixed with yoghurt and sugar to make a greenish but surprisingly tasty lassi). It’s not for me.
Holi is a lot of fun for a lot of people but there are some downsides. Often the coloured powders sold are synthetic and toxic, causing not just irritated human eyes but also sickness in the animals who try to lick themselves clean after having been bombarded with it.
Unfortunately I’ve also heard many very unpleasant stories about the enormous degree to which Indian woman are subjected to having their breasts and buttocks grabbed by men in the name of a bit of Holi fun. Being touched (groped) like this can be extremely distressing and humiliating for women who are targeted.