For something completely different from my usual local adventures I decided an outdoor, cultural experience sounded like an excellent mix. The University of Victoria Indian Association had an open invitation to the public to attend their Festival of Colour celebration. As it is unlikely I will ever visit India this seemed like a perfect alternate to participate in an event I have only seen in pictures, documentaries and travelogues. Of course it was geared to students by the fact it was held on the grounds of the university. However, that was not about to dissuade me – two of my daughters, me, and my parents, were students of Uvic. (I do not recall such frivolity)
Except for the shots of me, my daughter and my sister, all the unknown smiling faces happily posed for me.
guess who! We knew some of those baggy clothes would eventually come in handy. Somehow my camera survived.
Clothed in white, to let the colours pop, wearing a pair of sandals (with socks because the temp was in the low teens) that did not matter if the colour would not come off, and ready for getting messy, I set off with my daughter and sister. Although we arrived shortly after the event was slated to begin it appeared to be in full swing. We were there for about two hours, I was possibly the oldest participant. This brought about some interesting reactions when young men approached to smear coloured powder on my face with a “Happy Holi” or gently toss it. Which brought to mind the reason for the celebration, and the culture behind it.
Time to let loose before exams and papers in April.
What is Holi and why is it celebrated by wild swirls of colourful, perfumed powder? There is a lot of information on the Net that tells the tale far better than I can. However, some basic facts: Time to mention that this year Holi was on March 1st and 2nd,; I have no idea why the Uvic event was held on March 17th. It certainly coincided with a number of celebrations. Lots of green for anyone hoping to partake of St. Patrick’s Day activities later, or Naw Ruz (New Year’s for at least three faiths), and of course the first day of spring. Holi – Festival of , celebrated by Hindus, is an important observation of the arrival of spring, good harvest and triumph of good over evil. A lot to pack into just two days. Although these days there are many colours used to celebrate Holi, usually synthetic, gulal – made from flowers and herbs – originally came red, yellow, green and blue to represent a significant purpose.
I love that I captured the shot below of the blue faced girl. (Also my sister in the sunglasses)
The dunk tank looked verrry cold and did little to wash off the colour
A note about the synthetic powder, perfumed gulal has become very popular – not great for anyone with allergies. Synthetic is safer on the skin, but like the natural ingredients, is not easy to wash off. I saw one young woman wearing a (p)leather jacket that I was loathe to mar. There were also sweaters that would most likely maintain the marks of good luck forevermore. Not exactly good clean fun.
We noticed a group of future students clutching folders, walking along with parents (is that helicopter parenting?)- either the parents were saying no bloody way, or looks like a relaxed school. There was a perimeter that participants of the celebration never crossed. Somehow I doubt such restraint occurs at larger Holi gatherings!
One of the times a line was started. The Macarena was popular when it was played (the students would have been very young children when it was popular – they all seemed to have the right moves). Lots of modern Indian music – very danceable.
Food also plays an important role, sadly, we left before what I could smell cooking was served. I love Indian food and rarely have the opportunity to eat it. Unfortunately, my sister does not like it and my daughter can only eat it if there is no gluten. K think if it had not been advertised that refreshments would be served, as well as having that heavenly aroma in the air, I would not have felt rather cheated. Also hungry. After two hours or so of fun, dancing and enjoying the sun it was time to head home to wash the pink, green, blue, yellow and red out of our hair and clothes.
everyone had a great time.
The next day, despite having a shower as soon as I got home, I am still finding colour in my ears; and the one article of clothing my daughter most likely wanted to come clean now has a lovely rainbow hue.