Normally Holi Colors is played by mixing the color powder with water. Participants squirt each other with water guns. Today we did not need to do that. It was raining most of the afternoon so we just took the bags of colors and chucked it around at one another.
Well, I didn’t do much of the chucking. I just let myself get colored.
I have been identifying as Hindu since sometime in late 2009, have been attending the temple since 2010, but this was my very first Holi festival. Because I am still technically “on the mend” physically, my intent was to hang to the sidelines and take pictures. That did not last long. I got a few mediocre shots of people tentatively threatening to color each other, or non-aggressively smooshing the colors onto another’s cheeks. Nothing to write home about. I put the camera away when people began to come up to me and color me. They wanted me to feel like a part of the festivities. And I appreciate that immensely.
Today I felt so much a part of the community. It was great. Many times over I heard “Hey, you need more yellow!” or “You need more blue!” etc., at which point the color which was deemed lacking was administered. Everyone seemed to be in much more open spirit. Even those who I sometimes have difficulty conversing meaningfully with outside of Gita discussion had their guard down today. And why not, on Holi? (we celebrated three days late, I know!)
I had told my bus driver on the way over that when he picked me up later, I may be a multi-hued mess of a person. And I did not disappoint him. Well maybe I did, but I backed up my prediction is what I mean.
When I came home I immediately threw my coat, my hat and my pants in the bath tub. The colors came out easily. I assumed I’d be working on getting it out of my skin until Sunday night. I wondered if I would have a lot of explaining to do at work Monday morning with four unnatural colors on my face, ground in. But I am back to my old self already. Well, no…no I’m not. You can never truly go back to being your old self after Holi. I feel the same way every Diwali. To imagine the group of people I was with not in the temple parking lot, but in a field somewhere in India 3,000 years ago was a happy thought.