10 thoughts on “It’s Holi in India

  1. I’ve never witnessed Holi, but my wife lived in New Delhi for a year, and really loved all the Hindu festivals. Holi is fun, as is Dipawali, where everyone puts lamps outside and lets of fireworks. We do Dipawali, weather permitting, but the neighbours wouldn’t enjoy Holi…

  2. There are Holi celebrations in Canada as well. My hindu friends tell me you don’t wear good clothes for Holi. Also, I’m told the coloured powder is not as good as in India because there are more strict regulations as to what is in it in Canada.

  3. I’ve attended a Holi celebration in Spanish Fork, Utah (!). I think it’s the largest one (temple or celebration or both) west of the Mississippi. The town gets overwhelmed with people (I think the attendence is in the range of 10 thousand or so), several residents with fields make some extra money charging for parking, and it’s a convenient spring break party for BYU students (no drinking or drugs allowed on temple grounds).

    When my friend and I attended, we stopped at a local thrift store and bought cheap white shirts and pants, so we could maximize the dye job. We were even interviewed by the local Fox station. It’s not normally my kind of thing, but I got into the spirit of the thing, and had a great time.

  4. I was fortunate enough to be in India this year for the Holi celebrations! It is a fascinating holiday, primarily meant for children to run around throwing colorful dust at you whilst simultaneously spraying you with super soakers. At night, though, the actual Hindu rituals take place, and things get a little weird (constant bell ringing while chanting hymns, dances around fires to worship the multitude of gods, etc.). Yet, in my travels, I have come to find that most Indians are relatively secular, compared to the US, and see Hinduism as a mere allegory (especially prevalent amongst millennials). It might be easier for them to recognize this due to the polytheism of Hinduism, and the crazy mythology that surrounds the religion. What surprised me the most, though, was the general acceptance and deference most Indians have towards intellectualism, relative to the US. Of course, these claims are mere anecdotes, and I most likely came across the mid-to-high SES groups, but of all the Indians I asked, none of them said they have any problem with evolution. In fact, I’ve met people from all over the world in my travels, and not one person said their populace has any difficulty believing in evolution. It’s a sad fact that belief in evolution is a point of contrast in such a developed country as the US. It saddens me, but drives me.

  5. The Grauniad yesterday had a different take on Holi. It seems that the level of sexual assault that goes under the cover of these “street parties” has reached the level that female students at several Delhi colleges/ universities are locked into their accommodation blocks over the holiday period, whether they want it or not.
    It does sound as if India has some serios problems that it’s not addressing (as well as some serious problems that it is addressing).

  6. I’ve had the good fortune to be able to be a participant/observer at Holi for the past several years by providing entertainment for the children at a local temple’s annual celebration. There’s a processional and banging of drums and rituals I don’t understand, but there’s also a palpable sense of joy, which as a fellow human being I relate to. The colors are stunning and it’s fun to see how happy people look when doused in them, although I leave before the colored powder gets flung at full force so as to preserve my outfit and make it to the next destination.

    This year Purim also fell on Holi and the next destination was a Purim dinner for the congregants of a local synagogue. That too contained ritual elements and a sense of letting loose and having fun, but instead of colored powder people wore clever and creative costumes. It was a little like Halloween, but a lot more mellow and without the commercialization and hype. The costumes, like the vividly colored powder, had a transformative effect that was like a temporary fountain of youth. Maybe that’s because they’re both Springtime celebrations? I don’t know.

    Being of no faith and coming from neither a Hindu nor Jewish background it’s fascinating and a real pleasure to be able to see how different peoples ritualize joy.

    (Note: Not trying to be accommodationist and defend any religious ideology or doctrine, just trying to observe people and what they have in common.)

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