The last few days have been a blaze of color and light. I celebrated Holi a total of 3 times, and my best friend Leah came to Pune for a few days and joined me on my daily adventures.
You may know Holi from the photos of people covered in colored powder, but it has a strong cultural and religious significance behind it too. Celebrated primarily in the north of India, it celebrates the end of winter and beginning of summer. Back in the day, they would have a bonfire the night before the full moon to mark the end of winter, and then the next day they would play in the ashes to keep cool in the summer heat. Over the years, the ashes evolved into their infinitely cooler cousin, colored powders. The festival also celebrates Krishna’s birthday, one of the Hindu Gods, and triumph of good over evil. It symbolizes many different things throughout India, and is even celebrated on different days. The main Holi day was the 21st of March this year, a full moon, however in Maharashtra we celebrate 5 days after the full moon, so we celebrated Holi on the 25th.
For my first Holi celebration, I, along with 10 other fellows and Leah, went to the Holi Cow festival, a music festival boasting organic colors and DJ Lemon as a headliner. It was so much fun, we were absolutely covered in minutes, and it just kept going from there. The music was a mix of bollywood and party jams, and it felt a lot more like a rave than a cultural celebration. Everyone would come up and rub some powder on your cheeks and yell “Happy Holi!”.
It was so fun to drive around the city later and see people covered from head to toe in holi powder. I didn’t wash the powder off until a few hours later, and it turns out some of the color stains! I was sporting an orange nose for a few days after that…
Holi #2 was on Monday, a surprise celebration at school. All of a sudden we were all corralled into the big hall and the kids started smothering me and everyone else with powders. It wasn’t long before they somehow got water guns and water bottles and were dumping them all over the teachers. I quickly hid out on the second floor, because I was not prepared to be soaked in water. The kids did manage to get me good with the powders; by the time I managed to escape I had powder in my mouth, my hair, my ears, however, my kids were looking far more colorful (well they looked like small wet green monsters…).
That night I had Holi party #3, hosted by fellow Sophia at her family’s home. They set out a bunch of beautiful colors for us and played some bops. It is so fun to just throw powder in the air, and launch bright colors at your best friends, though I am a bit notorious for getting it in people’s eyes (sorry folks). After playing, we had some homemade pani puri (it’s like a crunchy shell filled with sweet and savory water and veggies), which was delicious and made me realize I should’ve been eating more of these this year.
Overall, Holi was an absolute blast and I’m so lucky I got to celebrate multiple times, though washing powder out of my hair is quite a task. It was surreal to be able to celebrate not just with my amazing GCY friends, but my best friend Leah too. How cool it is to be covered in powder together! It will be crazy to look back on this someday and think I got to celebrate Holi in India, a place that I love, with people whom I love.