Someday I want to be in South Asia for Holi

I know that the festival of Holi happened a few weeks ago, and I meant to write a post like this at the time, but I was reminded of Holi last night while searching for photos on the internet and figured it was time.

As the title professes, one of these days I would really like to be in either India or Nepal for Holi. I understand and appreciate that there is a religious significance to the festival, so I don’t want to seem disrespectful or  flippant, but there is something that looks so amazingly fun about throwing handfuls of colored powder at each other, regardless of the reason.

I remember once in elementary school someone gave me the idea of putting a spoon or two of flour into an opened  napkin and tying the napkin shut with a piece of string to make a “flour bomb” that “exploded,” sending flour everywhere, when you threw it at someone/something. I made about a dozen, and my sister K and I threw them at each other in the back yard. We were covered in white powder at the end. It was extremely fun, and of course, silly, but I couldn’t replicate it because I got in trouble for wasting flour.

I imagine a full scale Holi is kind of like that, only the flour-like powder is dyed vibrant hues, and the world is covered in rainbows.

P says that in real life (well, in the kid version he remembers) playing Holi can also be kind of brutal. Teenage boys love targeting Western tourists (particularly females) and Holi colors don’t always come in fun handfuls of powder… sometimes they come in buckets of colored water or balloons. There was even a dangerous trend of more mischievous people throwing motor oil in Kathamandu, but I still  like to imagine crowds of happy, friendly people, shrieking in delight and playing tag with fist fulls of beautiful powder.

Actually, P has a “battle wound” from a Holi shenanigan in his youth. One year he was up on the roof of his house, leaning far over the ledge to hit a neighbor girl with a balloon filled with colored water. As he positioned himself for the sneak attack he let the balloon go, but lost his balance and fell off the roof with it! He cracked the side of his head on the path below and started bleeding. As luck would have it, the timing of his accident coincided with a city curfew, and his family couldn’t taken him to the hospital until the following morning. Several stitches later, he still has a bump on his noggin that you can see in the right light if you know where to look.

But I’m not deterred :)

We have played Holi a few times in Massachusetts, although of course a tamer version, at Holi potluck gatherings where fellow party goers gently wipe powder in a streak across each others faces. But much like smearing birthday cake on someone’s face, the real fun is getting a little crazy. I wouldn’t mind coming back from Holi looking like this:

Pictures are from The Telegraph and

10 responses to “Someday I want to be in South Asia for Holi

  1. I love the woman’s expression in the first photo! My students were telling me horror stories that they had heard about people getting hurt during Holi. One of them said that one time a lady was hit with a water balloon and her eye popped out. :( But I think my student may have been exaggerating…

  2. This festival is in my bucket list as well. Seems like good times!!

  3. I’m sorry to tell you this but the above pictures is just PR stuff. The real holi which people play on streets is nasty, sadistic etc but in a fun way.

    When I was a kid, my friends and I used to fill balloons with gutter water, stale water, mud etc etc and threw them on rival kids. Before the festival, we would scout around for special colours(industrial stuff) that couldn’t be washed away with water. We broke stale eggs on peoples heads(girls specially) because it would smell awful and no one can stand close to that person after that.

    The festival begins early morning as 2-3 kids start digging up the ground and add water to create a mini wrestling ground. Then we would visit the neighborhood houses one by one demanding the youths to come out and when he does, we would carry him on the shoulder and roll him in the wrestling ground and then he would become a part of the gang and join us as we visited more houses. That’s how the festival started. Everyone is sent to the muddy ground before the actual colour throwing starts. 2 holi kids would become 2 dozen within a few hours.

    By 3pm, all the kids in the area could be found swimming in the nearest pond or lake washing away the colour. The industrial colour came into the picture very late. We didn’t notice it until we started finding dead fish floating in the river. The word spread and the following year, the fishermen community stood surrounding the waters with weapons scaring away the kids. Some kids got sent to the hospital because of the industrial colour which caused the parents to start monitoring colour products.

    Holi is a festival which receives massive participation so it’s difficult to regulate it. It’s difficult to regulate the behaviour of kids.

    ndtv dot com/article/cities/holi-horror-chemical-dye-kills-teen-sends-235-to-hospital-184215

  4. Much of the holi pictures that exist on the internet and those videos shown on TV are timid. The real holy is a free for all, do what you want event. Kids don’t play with teens. Teens don’t play with adults. And adults don’t play with senior citizens.

    Kids run around with water pistols (kiddy stuff)
    Teens are the most crazy and will do anything (jungle wild)
    Adults play with other adults (colours, alcohol, civilized singing dancing etc)
    Senior citizens (Ritual application of colours in timid fashion. like the pictures above)

  5. Amanda Danielle

    Here in Houston we have had a huge holi festival the past 5 years…this year was the biggest at aroun 15,000 people in one park! It was so much fun! A lot of people were even saying how this festival in Houston was better than ones they have been to in India. Of course I want to experience it over there as well!

  6. I’ve played Holi in Delhi but it was in nice, sober family celebrations: smearing color on the faces of everyone in the family and people who would come to greet you with the millionth box of sweets, and throwing water balloons on unsuspecting kids below :)

    There’s a big celebration in Salt Lake City, of all places! One day I will go to that :) Next year, perhaps?

  7. Amanda Danielle

    HAHA so Salt Lake City doesn’t just have a bunch of polygamous and mormans…..

    if this is the Holi festival than why is it a month after the real Holi….and looks to me as if most the people there are white “Hare Krishna’s” I have nothing against that at all….I just think its funny. There are so many cities across the USA who have large south Asian populations so its nice to have so much diversity and so many festivals represented.

  8. Amanda Danielle

    80,0000 people wow….i did not see any Indians or Nepalis in that footage…..which to be honest kind of defeats the whole purpose….i am “white” and from the USA but i think its kind of funny all these white kids playing holi. It can be nice (sometimes) to see them adapt other cultures traditions……but at the same time. It’s more of a unique experience when the HINDU culture is more represented than at this particular festival. I know I sound so But if I wanted to be around a bunch of white kids partying like this I would go to a rave. The video did look cool though I will give it that. I never expected Utah of all places to have one that big.

  9. I actually went to the festival in Utah this year with my Nepali boyfriend. We attend one of the universities there together and although Utah does have its stereotypes, there is still quite a bit of diversity; mostly in Salt Lake City. In fact, the man who holds the world record of climbing Mount Everest the most number of times who is Nepali lives in Salt Lake City. I have met people from all over the world in this state as random as it sounds. As for the rural and/or farming communities, yes, the majority are caucasian. There are quite a few South Asian Hindus that attend which live in the area, but they get lost in the crowds of the caucasian majority (haha, talk about a reverse of cultures).

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