Happy Holi! And round two of Udaipur...
All I can say is AMAZING!!!! Holi could very well be my new favourite festival of all time! Those Indians really know how to party. It is completely insane! As a white single girl, I certainly wouldn't recommend going to Holi on your own as it can get slightly out of control and the men love to wish you a "Happy Holi" with a hug that lingers a little bit too long (and close!). Fortunately, I was with my friend Rahul and his mates, so that prevented the unwanted advances. Nothing like a harsh look and a few stern words in Hindi to send them packing...
The Holi Festival is a Hindu festival that is also known as the Festival of Colours or Love. The Hindus love a festival! For anyone that has any business relations with India (I certainly had to deal with them quite a bit when I was at PwC)...they're always on bloody holiday! And now I understand why, their festivals are awesome. Who can blame them! Holi signifies a few things; the triumph of good over evil, beginning of spring, end of winter, and is just plain fun! It is a two day festival. On the eve of the Colour Festival, a Holika bonfire is lit and people will sing and dance around the bonfire to signify the victory of good over evil. The following morning is the Colour Festival and this is when it gets really crazy! Anyone and everyone is fair game. You wish people a "Happy Holi" by putting coloured powder on your hands and rubbing it on their cheeks and neck. Music is blaring in the streets and everyone is in great spirits. People will also spray you with water using big bazooka water guns (this is why it almost looks like I am covered in paint, because the powder gets wet!). Another "interesting" thing that they do is some people like to bathe in a mixture of water, cow dung and cow urine! It is believed to be very healing here in India. So much so that some will even ingest cow urine to improve their health...gross, I know! As you can imagine, I very kindly declined any offers to be sprayed with that concoction!
I was very fortunate to be able to celebrate Holi in a variety of different locations all over Udaipur on the back of Rahul's bike (and being on the back of that bike in its self is quite the experience! Fortunately he is a great driver...much safer than many of the people I saw while I was here!) We went to many street parties and got to wish hundreds of people a HAPPY HOLI!!!!! By far the most surreal experience I encountered that day was overtaking an elephant while being on the back of the motorbike! I wish I had a pic...even he was "Holi'd" too, haha!
Holi is absolutely fantastic and I would highly recommend anyone who is in India during the festival to take part! I definitely would like to do another one...can't get enough! An absolutely amazing experience; one that I will remember for the rest of my life!
Sadly, this entry concludes my stint in India. After Holi, I headed back to the ashram for a few days to bid farewell to my friends there. Those days were enjoyable, but uneventful so do not warrant a post. I am still flawed at the impact that India has had on me in these seven, very short weeks (they absolutely flew!). I have never felt so alive or connected with myself as I have while being here. This country is truly incredible and I am very sad to be leaving. I could have easily spent my entire year away here without a hitch! My time here feels so unfinished, there is so much more I want to see and experience. I will definitely be back...but enough with the sentimental stuff!
Namaste my friends...talk to you from "sunny" London!
A few weeks prior to Holi, I started to notice giant bags of coloured powder suddenly appear in the markets. At the time I did not realise what it was for, but it was India, and I was certainly becoming quite accustomed to seeing odd things and not giving it too much thought! Who was I to judge their ways! I later found out that it was indeed the colour for Holi! On the morning of the Colour Festival (or if you are an early bird and organised, which we were not!), people head into the markets to purchase their colour for the day. It's dirt cheap and comes in a variety of colours (as shown below). I also like to think that it is nontoxic and hypoallergenic (I got quite a lot in my mouth at one point)....it didn't taste awful so it was probably ok! Nothing like having bright purple teeth!
The night before Holi, the celebrations kick off. People set up large bonfires like this in the streets and set fire! It is complete insanity! Rahul took me on a drive through the city when everything was alight, unbelievable. A complete fire hazard...and it wouldn't surprise me one day if a city burned down! But it's the Indian way, and it makes no sense and is crazy...another reason why I love India!
Jagdish Temple...there was a giant bonfire right in front of it!
One of the bonfires outside of the Temple. Another tradition is for any babies that are celebrating their first Holi, the father will walk the child around the fire 7 times (I think it's 7...clockwise) for goodluck in the child's life. Indians are very superstitious with some of their traditions. We saw three babies making trips around a fire that evening.
Another bonfire in front of the Temple.
The before picture....a very clean Mel! The best 250 Rupee investment ever! I am very glad I took a few before snaps. This kurta got completely ruined by colour during the festival. And straight in the bin afterwards...
Breakfast of champions! Nothing says good morning like a few Kingfishers, an onion paratha (one of my favourite Indian snacks - a chippatie stuffed with onions) and vegetable pakora (deep fried veggies...delish!). This was the rooftop bar of the hotel that I stayed in while in Udaipur. The views were to die for! I spent a great deal of time here contemplating life over a few brews. And by the end of it, was on a first name basis with all of the staff...legends!
Before we had even started with the colour, the bike was trashed (and so was the hotel manager! He had been bombed with some serious colour! So much so that his teeth were purple!).
Jagdish Temple on Holi! Bit of a difference...this place was wild. I didn't have the camera out for much of the day as I was worried it would be completely ruined but I did take it out periodically at a few "safe" times to take a few snaps. Although because it was "safe" it didn't capture the fun parts (aka the complete ridiculousness!)
We had a bit of a rave on this street which was outside of one of Rahul's friends' hotel. The music was pumping with some serious Hindi (and sometimes English...yay!) tunes. There was some pretty phenomenal dance moves happening here (of course mine were as ordinary as ever!). But of course that didn't stop me getting amongst it!
Close up of Rahul & I in the middle of the chaos!
Kunal and I knocking back a Kingfisher! One of quite a few that day... The great thing about being coloured head to toe is that it makes your teeth look insanely white! Ready for a Colgate commercial!
Tourists getting amongst it too!
Not everyone likes to partake in Holi. I loved this shot. These people were watching our antics from a very safe distance above!
The bike...a mess!
Prior to taking a dip at Tiger Lake. So messy!
Tiger Lake is stunning! But the water is freezing! It really took my breathe away when I dove in. And apparently the Indians were really impressed with my skills as I was asked to dive in several times. Not sure if they have ever seen a dive before? There was quite an audience. Slightly awkward...
So calm (this shot was taken before Holi, which is why these guys have no colour! There were masses of people here swimming in the lake on Holi.) I wish I had my camera out!
This is my instagram shot of Holi that I posted to Facebook (few repeat photos here) but thought I'd include for good measure