So last Sunday and Monday were spent mostly in a state of high alert on my part whenever venturing out as the locals were celebrating ‘Holi’. This annual festival is celebrated on Phalgun Purnima which comes in February end or early March. Holi festival has an ancient origin and celebrates the triumph of ‘good’ over ‘bad’. Known as the ‘Festival of Colour’, on this day, people hug and wish each other ‘Happy Holi’.
In the days before Holi, the markets and shops are flooded with packets and piles of coloured powders, setting the mood for the actual day. You can see huge piles of bright red, magenta, pink, green and blue every where on the streets and on the day itself people ‘play Holi’, which seems to entail covering each other with the aforementioned coloured powders, or sometimes eggs too! Fortunately most of the local children in our neighbourhood were very polite and actually asked us if we wanted to play Holi but one gentle stroll (in the heat) to go to a nearby cafe for lunch resulted in three of us being chased down the street and daubed in green and red powder by two very enthusiastic and giggling girls who can’t have been more than 5 or 6 years old! My green scarf now has an interesting pattern to it! We did, however, successfully avoid being drenched by a long range water pistol from a nearby roof top on the way to the rickshaw stand as another small child (being encouraged by his giggling mother and older sibling) took aim at us from across the street.
My lovely friend Sandra has been staying with me for a few days with her daughter Emily who is studying in Bangalore as part of an exchange programme during her degree course and Emily was quite keen to see a little bit more ‘Holi’ action. So we ventured into the city to show them the old market and she was duly rewarded at my favourite incense and oil stall where a group of young people were enthusiastically throwing coloured powder at each other. Sandra and I stayed relatively colour free but it was lovely to then walk around the market with a now multi-coloured Emily and hear the reaction of all the other stall holders who were really amused. We had nearly made it out of the market when Sandra and I took a smudge of yellow powder each on our faces from someone who came out of our left field, again with much giggling and laughter.
Indian people have the most amazing endless capacity for fun.