On Monday I experienced my first Holi in India. Holli which is also called the festival of colours, is a spring festival celebrated by Hindus. The festival lasts for 16 days with the main day being celebrated last Monday
The day before Holi bonfires are lit and effigies of demonesses like Holikais are burned. The next day holi celebrated with a riot of colour, with powder paints, buckets of colourded and scented water and giant syringe-like water pistols
Interestingly, the spring season, during which the weather changes, is believed to cause fevers and cold. Thus, the playful throwing of natural coloured powders has a medicinal significance. The colours are traditionally made of neem, kumkum, haldi, bilva, and other medicinal herbs prescribed by Ayurvedic doctors.
I expected the Monday of Holi to be a typical Monday... work, school etc but the atmosphere in Delhi and the ashram was that of a public holiday so there was not work done that day. That morning before the kids had even got out of bed I found myself up at the kids house being squirted with coloured water and powder paint... it was a lot of fun for both me and the kids. So after that I assumed that was it for my holi experience so I washed all the paint off and got into some clean clothes.
Later that day, Murari, one of the boys asked me to drive him to Savita's house (the ashram teacher) to visit for Holi. The village of Narela was so different from its normal daily hustle and bustle. All the shops were closed except for those selling colourful powder paint and water guns. The village itself looked like a colourful war zone. There were people walking around covered from head to toe in the most vivid colours you have ever seen. The streets themselves were covered in water and paint.
When we got to Savitas house we parked as close as we could to her house and then we literally had to run to her door to avoid being drowned by buckets of water being tipped on us by people on their roof, while being chased by guys determined to see us covered in paint. Amazingly we made it to her house clean and dry.
Indian hospitality is so wonderful... I guess it comes from having such an old culture. It does not matter if I am literally popping in some where to drop something off; water and chai are offered and served as a matter of course. Thus it was at Savitas as well. When Savita offered water she mentioned that she did not have bottled or filtered but only tap. I said "koi bat nahi" which means no worries and drank the tap water. I think my gut is well and truly accustomed to India now as I have not had any problems in over a year now.
After water and chai we were offered pakora....mmmm so good! I must learn how to make it.
It was so great to spend some time with Savita and get to know her a little better. It also made me realise that I need to find more time to visit and spend with the kids.
That afternoon Sam instigated a little water fight by throwing some water at Ruth. It was not long before a full scale water and colour fight was underway. Eventually everyone was lured out and covered with paint and water... there was a long line for the showers that night!
I am fairly rubbish at uploading photos to the blog so if you want to see them you need to befriend me on facebook :)
This will probably be my last blog for a few weeks as my sister arrives on Monday and I will be heading off on a few more travels.