Where We Be
|Holi Festival -- Agra, India
We have no idea what the deeper significance of
Holi is. We know it’s a Hindu festival and that it has
something to do with spring, but beyond that all we
know is its outer trappings, which involve paint,
lots of paint.
It all started for us when two Canadian girls came
back to our hostel in Agra. They were laughing and
happy and covered with smears of paint on their
faces and clothing. They said they’d been out on
the town partying with the locals and it had been a
blast. Robin went up to them to ask if she could
take their picture because, she said, she had
"whimped out" herself. They said, “We have paint,
you know. Why don't you have a picture with us?”
They put a little dab of paint on Robin’s forehead
and cheeks. Their Indian tour guide shook his head
and said, “That’s not how you do Holi.” He took a
large amount of dry green pigment in his hand, told
Robin, “Close your eyes and hold your breath,” and
proceeded to smear a whole handful of green
pigment all over her face. She looked like a
Martian! I walked up intending to take Robin’s
picture, and the guide said, “Do you want to play
Holi too?” I said sure, he said close your eyes, and
the next thing I knew I had yellow paint smeared all
over my face and clothes.
About the clothes: We knew Holi was coming so we
had specifically bought cheap white clothing to
wear, just in case. It turned out to be a good
investment! Now that we were “initiated” into the
event, we decided to go out and have some more
fun with the locals. Everywhere we went, people
smiled and called out “Happy Holi!” Clearly they
enjoyed seeing us, tourists, participating in Holi as
much as we were enjoying being a part of things.
We headed for the loudest music. Here was where
the real party was. We joined our Canadian friends
in getting even more covered in paint. The locals
seemed to have a great time “blessing” us with
paint. Each person would come up to us, say
“Happy Holi,” then smear a dab of paint on our
forehead or cheek or neck, then hug three times,
right-left-right. The men would sort of bump chests
with you. Robin says the men would do that with
the women too! The men seemed to especially
enjoy giving the women attention at Holi. Hmmm.
Anyway, it was all in good fun, and it was a fun way
to bond with the locals. Kids all wanted to have
their pictures taken, and we were happy to oblige.
The locals showed great restraint in “blessing”
people with paint unless they were asking for it.
Even the kids refrained from throwing or tossing
paint at you unless you wanted it. But, as soon as
you indicated you wanted it, their faces would light
up with smiles and they would smear, pelt, throw,
or otherwise take great pleasure in getting you as
messy as they already were. This is one festival
celebration I'm sure we'll never forget!
|This kid had so much fun seeing his photo, he got blue foam sprayed all over him before posing again!
|These kids specialized in pink (as you can see) and added that color to our facial palette
|Our little group of Canadians, Americans, and Aussies sure had a great time partying with the locals!
|Joe Cool with an Indian flair!
|Robin somehow manages to look demure despite being covered in paint
|Some travel experiences you just know you'll never forget. This was one of them.
|That's the Robin smile I live for! Pure joy!
|Posing with our new Canadian friends who got us into this whole mess!
|Robin's initial paint covering was all-green -- the Martian look!
|I started out mostly yellow -- it wasn't until we headed out onto the streets that we obtained our multi-hued look
|This picture is from the evening before Holi, before the cow-patty bonfires and the all-night festivities
|We had kids lining up to have their pictures taken in their Holi "war paint"
|Sitting in the garden outside our room. Just about time for a shower!