Saturday, April 5, 2008

Holy Holi

Last Sunday, I had the unique opportunity of experiencing my very first Holi festival. Holi is a Hindu holiday celebrated in India and Nepal, typically in February or March. It celebrates the triumph of good over evil and is a time when people set aside their animosities toward one another and renew relationships. It sounds like something we all should do more often, come to think of it.

My good friend Neharika invited me to Holi a few weeks ago, and I was immediately fascinated. Part of the celebration involves throwing brightly colored powder on each other, and I asked Neha if the powder would come off. She assured me that it would "come off with my next wash". So, Neha and her husband Mayank graciously picked me up from my home last Sunday morning and took me to a local festival in suburban Smyrna.

When we arrived, the damp, chilly weather had delayed the start of the festival, so we hung around for a while, nibbling at savory snacks and trying to keep ourselves warm inside a large tent which had been erected for the festivities. In fairly short order, a DJ appeared and the music started. Oh, I forgot to mention that dancing is also a big part of Holi.

So by 11:30, I was covered in colored powder, and we began to dance. Now, if you have never heard modern Indian music, let's just say that it is quite "spirited". Once the dancing began, I was quite glad to have embarked a couple of years ago on a strict walking regimen. Otherwise, I would have given out after the first ten minutes or so. But as it was, moved by the spirit, tasty samosas, and a Diet Coke, I was good to go. For about four hours!

At some point during the festival, while we were all dancing as if our lives depended upon it, it occurred to me that this was the most fun I had had in quite a long time. This was the diametric opposite of my Solid State on a School Night experience, but yet like it in some ways. We stayed at the festival until about 4:00 PM, when we all finally gave out and headed home.

I am grateful to friends from half a world away who take me under their wings and include me in experiences like this. The whole time I was at Holi, I felt as if I were part of an extended family outing, even if my hair was pink and blue. And you know, almost all the color is gone -- nine showers later.

Happy Holi, everyone.