April 27, 2017

Holey Moley it’s Holi

The Holi festival is a wonderful example of how Indians have mastered the art of having a good time and collectively getting their ya-yas out without rancor. It’s a visually beautiful festival – oft described as the festival of colors and love – and a day to mark the beginning of spring. Goodbye gray sky, hello blue!
My takeaway from the Holi festival was vibrant colors, mayhem and entertainment--a societal stress break at the close of winter mixed with spiritual harmony and goodwill.

Although an ancient Hindu religious festival, I’ve read Holi has gained fans among non-Hindus in other countries and in Asia. There are Holi festivals in Vancouver and Toronto. And justly so. Something tells me the Grateful Dead received more than musical influence from Ravi Shankar, and the Love-ins of the summer of 1967 and later iterations such as Lollapalooza, owe a lot to Indian culture.

Water balloons, dry powder poofs and wet colors everywhere 
March 13: we celebrated with extreme joy among hundreds of other residents in the courtyard of our apartment complex. The word had gotten around the foreign community on when and where to start the festivities and parents had done meticulous preparation of water balloons and dry colored powders. We all wore old clothes. At the appointed hour mid-day, we met friends and their kids and it felt like we were the only ones there. This was yet another lesson on how time is perceived differently in this country. Soon enough the venue setup was completed by the organizers, music started blasting, more foreigners and local people arrived, and everyone started smearing each other with bright colors.
Then out came the hardware: water pistols and high-pressure squirt guns filled with colored water, and water balloons. Soon most folks were drenched and multi-colored. The Rising Daughters had a blast, as did Naomi and I.
The pervasive air of gaiety extended to interacting with strangers you would normally never speak with. That means nods of recognition, a few quips and random dousings, all socially sanctioned. Nobody got offended if they splashed you or you colored them.
Smiles abounded all afternoon. And that’s a good thing. The music kept the party going, there was an adult’s area for dancing and some alcohol intake within reason and the party shifted from family fun to a touch of buffoonery by the young men. Fire hoses were unrolled and geysers of water soon graced the skies. Yet the entire course of events was flavored with general merriment and zero violence.
The afternoon wore down but everyone in my neighborhood strode around with color in their hair or remnants smeared on their face.

I am a fan of being Holi.

No comments: