The High Holi-Day!
I was warned. “One step into Old Delhi on the high Holi-day and you surely won’t surface unmolested!”
A couple of paces in and I was pelted by paint-clogged water balloons from snickering children overhead. “Missed me,” I yelled in a jovial tone. In diplomatic fashion, I attempted to throw some orange powder toward their perch. Bad idea. They say that “anything’s possible in India.” But, that doesn’t mean you can fool gravity, Linda! Ugh. So, yes folks, my first official Holi color-spray was self inflicted.
Holi, the annual Festival of Colors is a Hindu holiday that is celebrated throughout South Asia on the full moon (Phalgun Purnima). It is symbolically meant to honor the victory of good over evil.
People express their love and appreciation for one another by sprinkling friends and foes with a variety of powdered colors. Everywhere you look you spot grinning locals disguised as preschool finger paintings. It could be all the Bhaang (Cannabis) that people slurp up, but it is said that enemies become friends on Holi. Nihang, an armed Sikh group, has even been known to call Bhaang "Peace-Giver" (Sukkha Prasad).
Decidedly bhaang free, I spent the day criss-crossing Old Delhi. After a couple of laps, a collection of faux-shy men gathered around me. They distracted me with half-broken English all the while elusively de-pocketing wads of colorful powder. Soon I was surrounded by human fire extinguishers detonating paint flakes! Some added liquid to their color-caked paws.
Maybe it was those platinum blonde teenage years I spent drooling over the Mac Make-Up counter. Perhaps it was my San Francisco daisy-chain of an upbringing. But, in an eye-blink I threw myself into the celebration! I was fortunate to meet some Canadian and German tourists who were just as eager to play Desi-Picasso.
I met one interesting Indian-Canadian named Shaan Desai who has been travelling through India for a few months now. He's visiting with family members and connecting with his personal history.
On this Holi-day that is meant to bridge cultural and social divides, Shaan was still not convinced that India would be able to transcend its great divisions and eventually take-over the global scene. He spoke on this during a rare moment of rest.