India has spring fever and nowhere celebrates the Holi Festival with more vigor than Mathura India.
We hooked up with our friends Rebecca and Julian from Toronto to experience India’s most colourful festival.
Becca has wanted to see Holi since the time she was 12 and Julian, being a huge history buff explained the story of Krishna, the temples that we visited and the meaning of Holi Festival in great detail.
It was the energy and the celebration that kept us interested.
Stumbling into the Ultimate Holi Celebration
We walked through the town of Mathura, the birthplace of Krishna in search of the events and stumbled across a small courtyard. A man beckoned us to join in the festivities and never being one to refuse and invitation, we accepted. Instantly we were welcomed with open arms and smears of colour.
The four of us were mini celebrities. Television camera’s for all of India were covering the energetic dances in the courtyard and we were all encouraged to join in.
The camera operators followed each of us as we did everything from dance, spin, drum and sing. We were interviewed on live T.V. And asked to explain the essence of Holi for all of India to hear.
Never fear, we knew what we were talking about, the “Holi Head of the Temple” prompted us with its meaning. Holi is a time in India for all people to let go of prejudice, creed, caste and discrimination.
We all come together under the colours of Lord Krishna. The colours represent love.
We certainly felt the love.
Women took turns dancing with Becca and I swinging us around one after another. The men loved holding Julian and Dave’s hands high in the air as they danced and laughed in a circle and children and adults alike threw handfuls of coloured powder overhead.
The feeling was jubilant. Holi falls on the full moon at the end of February, it marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring.
Holi is almost like India’s Spring Cleaning.
In Mathura, fires are lit to burn away the Witch of Winter on the eve of Holi. The following day people throw colours all morning long. However, the colours have been coming out if full force for days and on the day before the actual Holi Festival, parades happen in the street with dancing and music blaring from loudspeakers.
Everyone dances with each other and are thrilled when some purple and green foreigners enter their circle to dance.
The events of Holi can get a little hairy at times and you have to keep an eye out for one another. Everybody starts to look the same and it is easy to become separated.
As a foreigner you are sometimes targeted by overzealous festival goers. They can be a little too aggressive and some men can cross the line and grab and touch women a little too aggressively. Just be on your guard, but for the most part the Holi Festival is a wonderful and fulfilling experience.
Everyone Looks the same when Holi is in full swing.
Never does the essence of Holi ring more true at this time. Colour, class and religion are wiped away by the colours of Holi.
For this moment, we are all one and equal.
Holi goes on for hours on end and it catches up to us as we have been the centre of attention for more than 6 hours now.
Happy be in the moment, we barely refuse a dance with the women and gents, but in time, we are exhausted and need to get back to our guesthouse to wash up.
The sun is hot and the mix of coloured foam, water and thick powders bakes on our skin.
The Long Clean Up
It takes over an hour to clean ourselves up with the bucket and scoop bath and the four of us never quite make it to back to our former selves.
Becca got it bad when an overzealous fan sprayed a can of red foam all over her face and remained red for days to come. My hair was pink for weeks and our feet? Well our feet never did recover from Holi.
It is worth every moment though. The Holi Festival of India is the most exciting and unique celebration in the world. It is a once in a life time experience to take part in Holi and to enjoy it with great friends is something that we will never forget!