We decided to spend Holi in the city of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. Holi is celebrated in many parts of India. The activities are diverse, from religious rituals in temples to the lighthearted demonstrations where the colors acquire full ownership. Music, dance, food and especially the color, are the mascots of this party.
The night before Holi we find small fires that were put together at the corners. The men sing, and clap and women recite something as the fire was gaining pace. All seemed to wear their best clothes and all invited us to join the ceremony. We sat with them and then took turns around the fire.
The next day we went to see was the thing. At 9 am having walked 5 meters we find the first armed group with colors. To the tune of Happy Holi, our hair was dyed green. Unlike what we imagine, it was not a battle of colors. Happy Holi is accompanied by a pat on the forehead, cheeks, and head. We arrived at the already dusty corner. A boy gifts us his color bag and so we also get involved in the play.
And there we were, two kids playing with colors, throwing dust into the air, smiling and dancing to the latest hits from Bollywood.
Jaisalmer Fort is a sort of central square that served as a perfect setting. The golden sandstone walls highlight each color more. Glasses, mustache, and saris all dyed alike. There were women on the street but always accompanied by their partners.
The Bhang was there, but it was not a source of danger. It was very diluted and children were also consuming it. It made everything more exciting. We decided to try it. There were too many things for me to do. Play with colors, close my eyes when the color came to my face and try to take a photo in the middle.
They were all very respectful. Nobody painted us without asking permission. The two only colored our faces and hair. While there I remember the Latin American carnivals. Of the Corsicans in Buenos Aires, the groups in Entre Rios, the Rioja Chaya, the compadre and comadre in Jujuy. I remember the carnival in Bolivia.
Over time, man invents celebrations. It does not matter. It's the excuse. Its playability is back to being kids, getting dirty, getting wet, dance and laugh as if the world were to end there.
We did not spend Holi in New Delhi or Calcutta, but in a small town in Rajasthan. We did not dress in white as 95% of tourists. Holi is not dangerous, it is a party, but as every party has excesses and that common sense is important.
In India, and anywhere we visit, we must be respectful of local culture.
That's why I recommend:
If you do not want to be part of Holi, do not leave the hotel. Coming out and saying "Do not throw me colors" is equivalent to "make me wet from top to bottom". They do not resist, it's worse. If you want to participate, but are afraid of the locals, find out for private parties organized solely and exclusively for tourists.
If you dare to go out, which is what we recommend, do not wear white. Wear the most colored clothes you have, because we assure that powders DO NOT LEAVE the clothing. Do not carry belongings. Buy a bottle of water if you get thirsty, nothing else. As you get wet, do not carry your passport.
Protect your camera. Cover with a plastic bag. It will serve as a waterproof and from dust. If you feel that the locals are too excited, they may end up, walking quietly. Enjoy, laugh and have fun. Celebrating Holi in India is something that one does not live very often.