Holi hai!

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. ūüėČ 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.

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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!

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