Holi 2014

by Tabitha Kidwell

I wrote in my last blog how I have been in a bit of a funk. If any part of that funk had left me feeling that life is dull and colorless, I have been thoroughly disproven! Last Monday was Holi, a Hindu festival that celebrates the coming of summer. Traditionally, there is a bonfire the night before, which symbolizes the victory of good over evil. This is also a time to forgive others and repair relationships that have been damaged during the year. Then, people celebrate the next day by throwing colored powder and water at each other. Some people carry water guns or water balloons to add to the fun. We volunteers had a lot of confusion and questions about the day – can we go to the grocery store without being ambushed? do the colors stain? Should I wear a raincoat? – but in the end, we just decided to just go with the flow.

Our main guide on Holi etiquette was our friend Prakash, who lives at the Deep Griha Cultural Center with us and works as a sort of helper-guide-translator-house manager. He is 18 or 19, and used to live out at City of Child, but lives here while he is in college. At 7:30 on Monday morning, he knocked on all of our doors and greeted us with a supersoaker full of colored water. That was a shock first thing in the morning, but then we all went up the the roof and joined in the fun, pelting each other with powder and water.

Prakash gets a taste of his own medicine!

Prakash gets a taste of his own medicine!

After Holi on the Cultural Center roof

After Holi on the Cultural Center roof

David, Madga, Adele, and me

David, Madga, Adele, and me

Then it was 8:30 AM, and we had a after-the-presents-are-opened-on-Christmas-morning moment where we just looked at each other like “now what do we do?” So we took showers and went downstairs to have a nice breakfast together. Later on, we ventured out. Like so often in India, we didn’t have any idea of what to expect. We had heard vague rumours that Holi is often used as an excuse to have fun at foreigners’ expense, so we were ready for mischief. But everyone was incredibly polite – a couple of youths on motorbikes pulled up and asked quite kindly if they could put color on our faces, then continued on their way. We made a brief stop at the Irish bar for the requisite St. Patrick’s Day green beer. We thought it might be packed – double holiday! – but it was pretty dead. I think St. Patrick’s Day hasn’t caught on here, and even if it has, it probably can’t really compete with Holi!

Hard to believe "Kiss Me, I'm Tipsy" Green Beer Day was 10 years ago!

Hard to believe “Kiss Me, I’m Tipsy” Green Beer Day was 10 years ago!

Then we walked around a bit more, and made some new friends for Holi part 2.

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The next week, we got to play at school, too. It was so sweet playing with the kids – they had so much fun, and loved coloring their teacher’s faces. They were (mostly) really polite with their color and always said “Happy Holi.”

Okay, there were some ruffians, too.

Okay, there were some ruffians, too.

"Happy Holi, Miss!"

“Happy Holi, Miss!”

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I’m pretty sure now that Holi is over and I can go out without worry that I will be pelted with color. A few items of clothing are ruined, but that is a small price to pay to celebrate the triumph of good over evil and to welcome the summer. Summer is definitely here now – it’s getting hotter everyday. Some days, I think a little super soaker attack might be nice… maybe just skip the color.

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One Comment to “Holi 2014”

  1. Tabitha,
    I just finished re-reading all of your recent posts. You are very adept at expressing your thoughts and more importantly your feelings into text. Your journey is necessary to your being. You are using your time and place very wisely. Smelling the flowers, touching the earth, interacting with the people along the way growing in wisdom and getting to know yourself, not as others see you but as you reflect in your own mirror. Getting to know yourself is the most difficult challenge along your life’s journey.
    Your reflections are honest and those of a very discerning individual. Most people could not engage such a difficult task, but your rewards will be commensurate with the efforts. The greatest challenge I accepted from my college years mentor was to develop a personal philosophy for living and have the courage to live up to its demands.
    You are making a difference in the world.
    Bill Johnston

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