It’s so hard to know what to write about when I have been out of wifi range for several days. So much happens on every single day of these trips it is easy to be working on overload. I think I will skip to the chase and deal with major highlights. And, of course, the first one of those was Holi, a Hindu festival that is to India what Christmas has become in the USA. By that I mean, it is celebrated by almost everyone, not just Hindus.
There is a religious element to the festival and that portion of the festival takes place in the evening of, let’s call it, day one. I will not try to explain the religious significance except to say that it has to do with some really bad ass demons who wanted to take over EVERYTHING and almost got away with it. The climactic point involved a really big fire with the number one BA demon’s sister, Holika by name, clad in her cloak of indestructibility, sitting on a really, really big fire holding her nephew, who, through some godly intervention while he was still in the womb, was a follower of Vishnu, a really, really good guy god, which situation was intolerable for BA demon who asked his sister to kill his son. The nephew was sitting on auntie’s lap outside of the cloak of indestructibility and, so, was in major danger of turning into a crispy critter. However, Vishnu intervened in a most dramatic way causing the cloak of indestructibility to fly off of Holika and cover baby boy. Bye Bye, Holika. Later on, Vishnu put paid to BA demon, too. Whew!! Definitely a situation worth celebrating.
Back to religious element, big and small fires are erected all over the place. Priests come and do a prayer ritual and then people symbolically beat Holika with sticks to make certain she stays dead.
Somewhere along the line, however, a non religious element appeared. This is called “playing Holi” and it usually occurs the morning after the bonfire piece. We went to a village where it is done two days after. What fun! That meant we got to participate. We had new Indian outfits for this purpose as playing Holi involves throwing color on each other. It can be wet color, which you suck up out of a big tub using a rudimentary water canon and then blast onto other participants; or, it can be dry Holi where you pick up handful of dry, powdered color and fling or press in onto other participants.
Ours was both. We were staying at the village headman’s lodging and the villagers came to his compound to play with us. It was a general mélée. I learned a lot that morning (that would be March 14th): First, never do combat with a group of teenaged boys; second, never do combat using a weapon that is new to you but second nature to your opponents; third, as pretty as the fuschia and deep violet are, avoid them, they do not wash away easily (if at all, I still have pink hair after two shampoos; and, fourth, don’t plan on wearing anything white for several days after the battle is over . . .in fact, don’t plan on touching anything white for several days. I wouldn’t have done anything differently but I wouldn’t do anything the same if I had to do it again.