Holi Festival (sometimes known as the Festival of Colours) is – obviously – a colourful festival primarily celebrated by Hindus all around the world, though mainly in India and Nepal. There are several reasons people celebrate Holi, and it is celebrated differently in each region. Many people believe that it represents the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring, when good harvests are hoped for. Others celebrate it for religious reasons. It is held on the last full moon day of the Winter season, in the month of Phaluna (according to the Hindu calendar – usually in March). This year it landed on the 26th March. As mentioned, it can be celebrated differently in different regions – some burn wood and leaves under the full moon light, others perform a dance, and others throw colourful powder paint over each other, bringing everyone from all backgrounds, together.
Of course, today, the latter has become a popular activity with other cultures, and many tourists – including us – like to experience this ritual. This year, we are lucky that we happened to be in India (Palolem, Goa) for the festival. Being in Southern India, we didn’t expect much colourful excitement, as apparently this is more commonly acted out in the North.
The evening before Holi, while me and Winnie were shopping, a group of boys on motorbikes decided to cover our entire faces in purple and blue. They also gave us a handful of the powdery substance, which later – having resisted retaliating when others attacked us in the street too – a less-than-impressed Brendan and Luke received on their chests.
We woke up early the next day, stocking up on paint (10 bags for 350Rs), booze, and packing away all white clothing. Together we played around with the colours outside our rooms, and then I washed my very blue face. Down at the beach we attacked (and were attacked by) children and other colourful humans, before enjoying some beers at Big Bamboo (we were only allowed to sit outside).
Back at our accommodation, we drank some more, I showered (stupidly), and we headed out to the main party, which seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. When we got there, it was starting to get busy and music was pumping. Everyone was, obviously, a rainbow of colours. When someone blew dry brown paint in my eye, my contact lens fell out, forcing Brendan to take me back home, put in a new lens, we grabbed a quick curry, and got a rickshaw back. By the time we returned, everyone was on a new level, and with some serious catching up to do, we had a couple of Gins. We danced our shoes off (literally) for hours. When our friends left early yet again, we continued to party until things started to close down.
When we were ready to leave, a stubborn me refused to get ripped off by the rickshaws outside. When they said a slightly high price, I turned my back and we walked down the stoney road, which was difficult for Brendan who’d lost a flip flop. After realising that we had no idea where we were heading, or where we were, we were relieved and grateful to be offered a free lift home on the back of someone’s motorbike – 3 on 1.
All in all an excellent first experience of an Indian Holi Festival! (I still have slightly pink hair)
Please enjoy my photos. (more to come)