Why I'm Doing This to Myself: Reason 003
Indian culture often feels like an elegant string of traditions that give order and meaning to daily life. It can also feel like just another obligation to swallow or a hefty reminder that you’re out of place. Each month brings new pujas and festivals, allowing us to celebrate life and ensure future prosperity. I often enter these traditions “blind,” not knowing why or what for we’re putting wood chips over a fire while sitting on the floor. Thankfully, my in-laws always make an effort to explain things and give the proper context. From any simple puja to the traditions of Diwali, it’s a whole bag of ideas and customs that are new.
Which brings us to Holi. This is my third Holi in India (2007 & 2008 previously) but this is the first time we really made the most of it. Maybe it was the personal family circumstances of previous years or the birth of my son, but this year we jumped in to the fray with both feet. An early morning visit to my in-law’s house led to water fights and soon the colors came flying. This was a tame and playful affair – with my son and niece loving every minute of it. In the end we were all soaked and carried a minimal amount of color on our clothes and skin. It was then decided that we go “all in.” We joined some friends and headed to the Born 2 Party (a local membership party circuit) for a more thorough experience of Holi. We prepared with some tequila shots and arriving at the party, enjoyed some beer. The music thumping pushed us under the dance tent and soon the hidden small bags of color came popping out. Water was added – and even beer – to make the dry colors wet (in a poor man’s way) and the smearing of faces and necks and arms… calling it an “orgy of color” might be too evocative, but I’m not sure how else to describe it – with hundreds of young wet boys and girls dancing and loving every minute of the experience.
After an hour or so we left, the colors mixing to make us a blackened mess. The excitement, the colors, and the drinks all were gateways into this world. Thankfully we got to be part of it, as I fear that 5 to 10 years from now Holi will have a very different face – maybe a less colorful one.