I suppose we weren’t technically NOT allowed to step outside late in the evening, but rather strongly encouraged to not really wander around outside during the late hours of the night (cue the mischievous smile). A huge reason being because when night fell at the Ashram, it was crazy DARK. So I’m not sure I would call it sneaking out, exactly. But playing ninja in the middle of the night to get to the scooter and drive to a giant party on Holi seemed like the appropriate thing to do.
March 23, 2016
Ever been to a color run? Or a music festival of some sort where vibrant, powdered colors are thrown around (e.g. Life in Color)? Hate to break it to you, folks, but unfortunately that was ripped off from an ancient Indian tradition. Those concepts take after a traditional Hindu celebration called Holi (‘Holika’) Festival, also called ‘Festival of Colors’, and it celebrates the beginning of the new season, spring! Holi is usually celebrated at the end of February or early March. Participants often throw brightly colored powder and scented water at each other, its really something amazing to witness. It’s a day you see adults acting like children, WITH their children, as they laugh and chase each other around with powdered color in-hand and on their face, a smile you wouldn’t believe. There is mythological significance to this celebration, as it is an ancient Hindu tradition, however, it is up to you if you’d like to take it upon yourself to do some research on that part! I encourage it! Moving forward…the cultural significance of Holi helps people to believe in the virtue of being truthful and honest, and also to fight away the evil. And the social significance helps bring society together. It’s also a time that even enemies of one another turn into friends, and forget any hard feelings or differences between them. The concept is simple, yet poetic, it’s truly wonderful.
While we were in India, Holi happened to land on my mother’s birthday. I admit i did not take that into consideration when I was planning my trip, needless to say I felt horrible for not being home for her birthday. I woke up extra early that morning, and began to write her a birthday email, knowing well I was about 12 hours ahead of the U.S., but I didn’t care…I wanted to be the first to wish her a happy birthday, from halfway around the world. My mom has gone through her fair share of mishaps in life (as we all have, some more extreme than others, no two journeys are the same), and at times can be an over-thinker, as am I. Sometimes she won’t let her own mind rest, not even for a second. So of course her youngest and only daughter, traveling through a third world country for 3 months didn’t exactly give her peace of mind. So in the email I began to explain to her how wonderful it was that her birthday landed on Holi that year (its always different! It’s determined by the Hindu calendar. I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as a coincidence), but more importantly I began to explain the significance of the celebration. I actually managed to find the email and wanted to share some of what I wrote her:
“…You’re birthday lands on one of the most celebrated festivals in India, Holi Festival…a time where everyone here just lets go of everything, all the BS happening in their life, and they all come together and just crazy but in the best way. People run and laugh and celebrate life with each other…that’s what I want you to do. There is so much to be grateful for and so much to celebrate, and sometimes when we go through hardships it’s really hard to see that…but despite it all, we are still living and breathing…”
Funny how sometimes we forget to take our own advice, isnt it?…So all that being said, we went to celebrate the day as it should. Together. With everyone from the Ashram. We all walked over to the Blue Whale for lunch, and to continue the Holi festivities, and rather than talk about that, I’ll just show you, because a picture is worth a thousand words…and I’ve got tons of them.
After lunch, we made plans to meet with someone who told us about a huge part for Holi being held a couple kilometers away, in Leopard Valley. So we waited for the majority of the house to fall asleep, got out quietly, jumped on the scooter and left to celebrate Holi one last time. The irony is I had so much fun, I didn’t care to take one picture or video of the crowd just enjoying life and dancing to the music. Everyone was laughing, and perfectly okay with strangers walking up to them and smearing some color on their face, wishing them a happy Holi, and walking away. My heart felt so full. And i didn’t want to waste a single second, by fumbling around with a silly phone to try and catch the already perfect moment. In fact, the only footage of the party itself is, unfortunately, on someone else’s GoPro instead of mine. The only evidence I have is this last picture, the aftermath, which is fine by me because that party and those vibes are all I can see when I look at this picture. Holi Festival holds a special place in my heart.