Saturday, March 13, 2010

Happy Holi! The Festival of Colours

Okay its been awhile and I have to jog my memory and do a bit of back tracking. I blame it all on Jessie that I haven't written in anything in so long. Not only was it difficult to tear myself away from her lovely company to be a computer nerd, but she also kept me on a back breaking tight schedule during our time going through Rajasthan. We spent 8 nights in 6 different places. Agra, Ranthambhore, Jaipur, Pushkar, Jodhpur and then Udaipur.

Udaipur was the last place we were delivered by Vikram, our driver...then we were left to our own devices. We arrived in Udaipur on the eve of Holi Festival, which is the Festival of Colours. It is supposed to represent all the different people of India with all their different shades of beliefs and traditions. What a festival!

The night before there were crowds of people gathered, both foreigners and locals, to the town centre where a stage was set up with a HORRIBLE cackling sound system and an odd Indian drag queen dancing to a mix of Indian music, hiphop and Shakira....suprisingly the crowd LOVED it! There were a few other randon performers, a procession from a temple overlooking the square and a HUGE teepee like structure set up to be lit to conclude the evenings events (think Burning Man Indian style).

Jess and I had a good view of the concert part but the sound was so horrible we went for a breather and came back for the finale. The second time round though we stayed towards the outskirts (with an escape route) cause there were masses of uncontrolled crowds and fire involved. There was a display of fireworks that was soooooooooo unsafe yet no one seemed concerned, then the teepee thingy went up in smoke directly under a set of electrical wires which eventually caught fire. Again, no one seemed remotely concerned (though the power later in the evening did get cut off to an entire grid). I was happy to watch it all from a safe distance away.

The next morning was a free for all with this herbal natural powder that everyone kept in little baggies in the most magnificent shades of blue and purple, pink and green. Traditionally, these colours were diluted with water and people used water bottles and squirt guns, but now it has changed to just sprinkling the powder due to environmental concerns and water shortages (one point for India). I say sprinkling cause the powder is soft like fairy dust, but in actuality people were dumping this powder. With it comes a little blessing, a hug and a "Happy Holi". Unfortunately we were warned by the guys who ran the guest house that the men get quite unruly (there were NO Indian women on the streets celebrating....literally NOT ONE!!!), and it gets a little unsafe as the day progressed and the men got drunker and rowdier. So we stayed in the stoop of our hotel and used these guys as bodyguards. It was such a scene. I posted loads of pics from it on faceook and am trying to upload a videos of the fire display.

All in all, it was a beautiful festival minus a few scenes I could have lived without witnessing. Jess and I were covered from top to bottom in this herbal powder and looked like walking pieces of artwork! A lovely festival to both watch and take part in!

Next stop MUMBAI!

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