That’s what people from India call it when they celebrate by attacking each other with vibrantly colored powder.
Last weekend, I participated in the Hindu tradition with some friends in New York City. Here’s are highlights…
Let me give you a little bigger picture of Holi.
Holi is a festival to welcome the Spring. It is celebrated widely in Western and Northern India over two days with bonfires, parties, live music, dance and food – and of course colored powder. It is said to be a time when social structures that restrict people from interacting freely based on age, sex or caste are pushed aside. And everybody let’s loose.
Over the weekend, everyone seemed in excellent spirits and ready for a party. And I felt very welcome. It was almost like I could feel the nostalgia in the air. Like 4th of July or Christmas, these celebrations clearly invoked fond memories from growing up in India for many on the boat.
The powder itself was dry like baby powder and smelt faintly of lavender. And as you can imagine, at times, it can be uncomfortable to breathe. I did see a few people with masks. But somehow the mess and any discomfort is worth it once you are in the middle of it all.
There is something about all those colors that is surprisingly exciting. It is such a visceral experience with the powder, good cheer, and music blaring. You can’t help but to dance.
Some other interesting facts…
I’m told that in India there is a traditional milk beverage brewed with Marijuana leaves that is popular to drink during the festivals. And on some occasions, the color used is oil based. And my friends said that kind doesn’t come off for days.
Lucky for me, that wasn’t the case this weekend. It all washed off pretty easily.