Holi – Indian spring ritual

You must have seen the pictures of pink, red, blue, green, yellow powder color thrown in the air – people are dancing in the streets with their arms up in the sky. They look like they stepped out of a modernist painting: Madly colored faces, hair and clothes everywhere … Holi, celebrated by families and especially by groups of youngsters all over India, is probably the most colorful spring festival of the world.

The end of winter is celebrated the day after the full moon night in March. Holi festival  rituals can be associated with Christian carnivals and easter, where colors play an important role as well.

Just walking through my neighborhood in  Safdarjung Enclave New Delhi, I find sings of it everywhere. In the full moon night, Holi fires are lit to burn evil spirits and to celebrate the arrival of spring.

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The next day, as soon as I stepped around the corner into the street, children started cheering and shooting small water balloons at me – luckily not every of them reached the target. Nobody is spared, not even the guards at the entrance of the blocks. Holi blurs social lines otherwise very present in the Indian society.

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There are groups of colored people everywhere, watching the crowd from their balconies, or throwing color at each others in the street. And with a hearty „Happy Holi!“ and „Welcome to India!“ my white cheeks are soon covered with red, pink and blue powder. Easy to melt into the crowd …

 

 

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