It seems obligatory that all Bollywood Holi-related numbers have the dancers and actors/actresses dress in white… both so the gulal (colour) shows up, and for the strange, obligatory wet… whatever… scene.
Thursday was Holi, but Adam and I didn’t end up celebrating until today… and oh, did we celebrate! It was a lot of fun – we went to a party that was mostly Indian nationals with just a handful of us white-skinned folks, but by the end of it, everyone was green and pink and red. I like going to the parties hosted by our friends who are locals/Indian nationals… better than the “expat interpretation” of whatever holiday it is. We were a little worried there might be gentian violet in some of the colours, but everyone washed out okay. 😉 Our friend who hosted the party seemed to take a particular delight in colouring me in creative ways… like putting her hands up my shirt, down my shirt… and on my shirt. A few of us got marked in such a way, and we’re debating getting shirts made that say “I got groped by Vandana – HOLI 2012”.
The origins of Holi vary; generally it’s said that it’s the first day of spring (or summer… since summer is basically April & May, and then monsoon!), and according to Wikipedia, “the bonfires are lit in memory of the miraculous escape that young Prahlad accomplished when Demoness Holika, sister of Hiranyakashipu, carried him into the fire. Holika was burnt but Prahlad, a staunch devotee of god Vishnu, escaped without any injuries due to his unshakable devotion.” … But where the throwing colour aspect comes in is anyone’s guess.
We also had some great food – once I can actually get names for what it was we ate, I’ll see about test-cooking at home and posting recipes. There was one type of sweet I can’t identify, one I can (soan papdi, aka Buddha’s wool), some chickpeas, some little fried things… all quite good, but I couldn’t get a name to any of them. I almost made gujiya (a traditional Holi sweet), but thought someone else might have brought some… but no gujiya! Clearly I’ll have to make up a belated batch, and when I do, up will come photos and a recipe.
There are still health concerns about colour safety – it comes in three different forms, a water, a dry powder, and a paste/mud – and a growing movement towards making your own herbal/”safe” colour for Holi, rather than the questionably chemical filled ones. Chemicals or not, it was fun – and also enjoyable was the surprised looks on the faces of some tourists (for tourist season has begun!) and folks on the street as Adam, myself, and a couple other friends walked home. Their thoughts were clear, from their expressions: “White people playing Holi? Really? That can’t be right!“
I hope to add more pictures to this as I get some more – from other people’s cameras! – since mine mostly was kept protected while we played Holi / played colour.
Additional fun fact: our Kathak dance routine for our performance (in less than 2 months… eek!) is a Holi-themed dance. I have been hunting and hunting for a copy of the song/another group’s performance to share, but have had no luck… after the staff talent show, at least, there will be a copy on the internet!