As the weather warms and winter reluctantly recedes, it’s time for color to come back into the world. But, at the Holi Festival of Colors, vibrant hues don’t just creep back slowly as you would expect, they hit you like a ton of fluorescent bricks.
Recently, the local Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple hosted their annual Holi Festival of Colors. This weekend event attracts 50,000 visitors from near and far, making it the biggest of its kind in the Northern Hemisphere. At this affair, the return of spring is celebrated with lively music, yoga lessons, yummy Indian food, and color throws. In a color throw, for those unfamiliar with that completely common term, everyone in the crowd tosses bright dye powders into the air. For a second or two, those hue streams fill the sky with brilliant greens, oranges, purples, yellows, pinks, and reds. Then, almost instantly, the pigments combine and become a massive hovering brown cloud that enshrouds the throngs.
We have considered going to this intense but intriguing festival for years so, when our friend Jacob invited us to attend with him, we happily agreed.
Although the enormous number of attendees should have clued us in, getting to the temple was much more of a hassle than we anticipated. We took one of the provided shuttle buses from a nearby fairground parking lot instead of trying to find a parking place in the vicinity of the sanctuary, which made our journey less stressful but not less time-consuming. The heavy traffic and omnipresent pedestrians halted our lumbering movement frequently. Eventually, we did make it to the picturesque temple amid its pastoral splendor and brown particulate haze.
While color throws are only scheduled every two hours during this event, in practice dye is being tossed about by attendees constantly. Stranger or spouse: everyone is fair game. Only minutes after Jason and I entered the temple grounds, we were oranged in the face by a passing Neanderthal. I was just fine being plastered with dye but right in the eye? Come on, you stupid guy. Why, why, why? (That super lame rhyme was mostly unintentional so just go with it.)
Although colors were frequently flung on us by unfamiliar faces, our group, which included the Rowleys, was large enough that the majority of our powder accumulation came from each other. The kids particularly loved dumping on the pink and had so many layers of it all over their bodies that they could have been plugged in and used as an “open” sign. There was a whole lot of tinting going on.
From hanging out at the festival for a little over an hour, we came home pretty painted. I thought for sure that all of the clothes we wore would be ruined, which is why I dressed in such a peculiar fashion. But, surprisingly, only Jason’s t-shirt remained discolored after washing. (That shirt now has permanent pink stains right in its pits, as if it were the marked casualty of a curious sweat disorder.) And, with the exception of our enduring mauve boogers and a giant patch of purple in my armpit, our bodies came clean pretty quickly too.
It was a crowded, crazy, colorful affair. If you’re claustrophobic or suffer from a fear of dyeing, it might not be the best Saturday afternoon activity for you. Otherwise, I would recommend getting a group of your more venturesome friends together to paint the town red, green, purple, and orange the next time Holi is here.