Spring in India is not only colorful because of the beautiful flowers growing around, but also because it is the month of Holi, or as we know it " The Festival of Colors."
Holi is celebrated in March, and people crowd the streets splashing colored dyes on anyone walking by. You can't avoid the madness unless you decide to stay in.
Being from America, this was my first time in India. I was visiting there for work and decided to indulge in a bit of fun during Holi.
Initially, I thought of wearing a black tee, but I was advised to avoid that color on a festive occasion as people in India considered black unlucky.
So I wore a plain white tee instead. That way, it would show the colors splashed on me, and I could take the tee back home as a souvenir. The locals also advised that I should smear oil on my body and hair as many of the colors are strong and might be hard to come off. Oil helps to prevent the color from sticking too harshly on your skin.
I walked out of the street and noticed people were pelting colored powder and buckets of colored water everywhere
A little ahead, someone from the rooftop threw a big bucket of blue water on me. Surprisingly I enjoyed it. It was different. It almost reminded me of the color run we have back home where people run a marathon while throwing colored powder on each other.
They say Holi means spring has arrived and it represents good over evil.
Historically, colors in Holi came from flowers and plants, but today they are artificially manufactured.
In India, apparently, colors have meanings.
Blue represents greatness, the sky and most importantly the Indian God Krishna. It is a reminder that evil exists but can be defeated with bravery.
Green, on the other hand, represents nature and happiness. Indian widows were prevented from wearing green as green was considered the color of a married woman.
Yellow is also associated with the merchant caste or the ‘Vaishyas.' The 3,500-year-old Rig Veda book of sacred hymns refers to Lord Vishnu for this color as he is said to have woven the rays of the sun into a garment for himself. He and Krishna are almost always shown dressed in yellow.
The color red symbolizes festivals or weddings.
When a married woman dies, her body is covered with a red cloth, symbolizing her wedding sari. On the other hand, when a woman becomes a widow she is not allowed to wear red and has to wear white which represents the renunciation of the world and purity.
Women in India usually wear a red dot on their forehead. The application of bindi, or tilak, is an Indian custom practiced since the Vedic times. In reference to marriage, a red dot on a groom’s forehead reminds him to treat the relationship he has with his wife with dignity and to take on all the responsibilities of his family, ancestors, and society. The red dot on a bride’s forehead is a symbol of fertility and her acceptance as the protector of her husband’s family. Today, it has also become a fashion statement.
I spend the rest of the day eating delicious food at my co-worker’s place and learning more about the history and culture of Holi and other festivals. I also managed to try ‘bhang,' a white drink that people have in India to bring them into a festive state.
India is indeed a unique country with immense diversity, and the more I learn about it, the more I feel there is so much more to learn. I can’t wait to be back for my next trip and experience another festival.
P.S I had a purple face for the next 5 days. It took almost 12 days for all the colors to be fully removed.
Submitted By Guest Writer Roy