March 16th is Holi - the Festival of Colour! All I can say is wow. What an amazing experience!
The story behind Holi is that it is essentially letting go of the past hardships of last year the night before with a large bonfire where you throw in pieces of paper of what you want to let go. There is a lot of drumming, dancing around the fire (which is wild and fun) and free food!! (AMEN TO THAT.) I went to two smaller bonfires with some local people and some travellers, there was a great mix of techno 2008 remixes, authentic live Indian drumming and some punjabi club hits which really brought the house down. My compliments to the DJ, he knows how to set the party mood in the best way.
The next day is the day most people know about, the morning of the colour fight. Originally, many of us in the group were a little nervous and weren’t 100% sure on going out to the busy street party (there were reported incidents of “groping” and very “friendly” people) but I had made the decision the night before that I would be going, come ass grab or not. Because realistically, I have never felt unsafe in Rishikesh, I frequently go on walks around town by myself (usually twice a day) and never get more than some looks that say “Good god has that woman ever seen the sun before!” So when someone told me “be careful you don’t want to get groped” I politely responded with “You’re right I don’t, not here or back home at EVERY club in Vancouver, I’m not missing this once in a lifetime moment. BYE!”
Let me tell you, this was definitely the opportunity of a lifetime. The visuals of that morning I can’t even really put info words. There’s something about seeing such a large group of people throwing the brightest and most vibrant powders at one another mixed with all the music, laughter and well wishes that can bring any person to well up inside.
The idea of the “colour fight” is to symbolize the death of the devil (last nights bonfire” and the leaving of all the pasta bad experiences and energies. It’s a time where quarrelling family members forgive and forget, and people come out in the streets to wish each other nothing be happiness and prosperity. There are many photos of people throwing these coloured powders at one another, but mainly people (in my case complete Indian strangers - men and wooden alone by the way) came up to smear coloured powder on my face, neck and arms to send their blessings, happiness and forgiveness to you. They gave me a hug and I returned the colour and blessings onto them. It was so wonderful, very healing and very transformative. I never once felt like I was being “groped” even though there was a few men who asked for pictures with us and everyone was extremely friendly. I just felt loved and like everyone wanted the best for me, who doesn’t want that?!
The pictures, yes they are wonderful. And I’m keeping my crazy coloured shirt forever. The best thing though was the feeling of everyone just wanting the best in their new year, letting go of the past and wanting you and your loved ones to do well from that moment on. That’s better than anything. That is a fact.