Holi is a Hindu festival that celebrates “the arrival of spring, the end of winter, the blossoming of love, and for many [is] a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair broken relationships,” according to Wikipedia (how else would I find out?). It starts at night with a bonfire, which you pray will burn away your inner evil like it did the sister of some demon king. Sadly, this is another aspect I only just learned from Wikipedia, so I missed the bonfire. I guess my inner evil (and demon sister) will survive another year.
The second day of Holi involves running around throwing colored powders. Apparently it used to be a total free-for-all, with anyone and everyone fair game, and people running in the streets everywhere blasting folks with color and water guns– so kind of like The Purge, but with pretty colors instead of murder. Now the celebrations are mostly contained to specific blocked-off spots.
Unfortunately, the first of these we tried to join had run out of color. People were still having a great time; many had turned to covering each other in mud and there was a foam party, but we were looking for an authentic Holi color experience. When we tried to move on, the staff was incredibly upset that we were leaving without getting appropriately dirty and implored us to wait two minutes for more color to arrive. After another 30 minutes, they still did not want us to leave, not because we were demanding a refund, but because they were horrified we were leaving without having had any fun. They physically blocked the way out, and we eventually just gave up and crawled through a hole in the fence nearby.
Some quick googling found us another nearby option. Just in case, this time we stopped at a stall on the street and bought a whole bunch of color. Most color is dry powder that comes in little bags, but for a truly authentic experience Neehar also insisted we pick up a little wet color that came in a small plastic jar.
With only a few more minor difficulties– I bumped into a crowd barrier and set off a chain reaction that took out about 50 feet of fence and we approached the wrong entrance so we had to bribe a guard to get in– we were at last playing Holi! Neehar and I smeared each other and started throwing color at strangers. When we realized those around us were running low on supplies, we gave away half our color and then people began hitting us with color as well, both throwing it at us and smearing it on our faces with wet hands while saying “Happy Holi!”
As you may have guessed from the foreshadowing, the wet color from the jar turned out not to come off in the shower. So both arms and a stripe along my face remained a festive pink for over a week. I blame that on Neehar’s inner evil (he missed the bonfire, too). But in the spirit of the holiday, I’m going to let it go and admit Holi was amazing fun.
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