At this time of year all over Asia, the spring festival is being celebrated. In South East Asia people throw water around as a sign of the coming monsoon season and to wash the sins of the year away. India takes it to another level, they have to add some color! Holi is one of the most famous festivals of India and right up there for what people outside of India know about India with Diwali and the Taj Mahal.
The story behind the festival is another version of the victory of good over evil and in this one some evil woman is burned to a righteous death. The scent of that story makes me a little nervous but Holi is a festival celebrating renewal so someone had to die. It’s a spring thing. A colorful spring thing as colorful as only India can do. People are encouraged or permitted to go wild for this one day a year. Already the papers are giving advice on hangover cures.
Tomorrow the full holi festival erupts on the streets of Pushkar. Businesses are closed and no public transport is to be had, the subzi warrior queens will temporarily abandon their cauliflower thrones and hide inside as will most sensible women. Holi in India is a bit like the running of the bulls in Spain except the streets are taken over by hordes of kids with water bombs and plastic guns full of toxic paint mixed with water and young men will be taking the intoxicating bhang drink. The town square becomes a huge dance floor and the town erupts in music and paint and cannon blasts of water. While one side of me itches to get out there and boogy, the other side of me says Are you Mad? This is India!
Tourists have flocked to the town for the party,the one time in a year when partying is allowed in this town where meat and eggs and alcohol and lewd behaviour such as holding hands or kissing in public are banned. Are you going? Some young women ask me. Are you mad? I say. This is India! Even though I know they will choose to go into the mush pit and come out the other side more experienced about the trials of being a woman in India.
If you consider how many Bollywood movies contain a siren scene where the heroine gets her sari wet in a dance scene, then add to it a bunch of intoxicated and highly excitable Indian men, mix it up in a mush pit of toxic paint, (stuff that you can’t get out of your hair or skin for days), I know where I am going to be.. with the subzi warrior queens, inside.