We began like this:
It didn’t last long.
I don’t know much about Holi. Few of the Indians I spoke to seemed to have any idea where it comes from or what it means. Wikipedia thinks it has something to do with the immune system; our friend Hemanshu says it’s related to the farming cycle. Whatever the case may be, the big thing about Holi is that you “play colors”.
This is Jenny and our friend Manual about ten minutes after we arrived the party. I don’t know the guy who threw it, but he decided to let 100+ Indians and expats completely destroy the lawn in front of his huge mansion. To facilitate our technicolor destruction, he provided a DJ, live musicians, food, beer, and bhang, which I’ve already described. That’s what’s in the terra cotta cup Jenny is holding. A servant presented us with a tray of it almost the moment we arrived.
Our gracious host generously filled and refilled the color table with certified non-toxic powders. (Apparently India suffers a minor epidemic of rashes and burns due to dodgy Holi colors.) One plays Holi thusly: you grab a fistful of powder and throw it at someone. Or rub it in their hair. Or solemnly smear if on their face, as did the five Indian teenagers who came upon me as we were looking for the party. (Each one ceremoniously hugged me afterwards.) Or grab a bucket of liquid dye and drench somebody. Or pick someone up toss them in the plastic pool.
Jenny began with a yellow base and transitioned steadily to red:
Whereas I simply added sloppy accents to a consistent motif:
We ended like this:
Jenny hides it well, but you can tell from that picture that the bhang is taking its toll on me. After staring at the dancers for another hour, we took a surreal autorickshaw ride home (“Whoa… the market is… like… deserted!”), giggled our way up the staircase (they’d never seemed so tall or taken so long to climb), and took the first of many futile showers. Twenty-four hours later, Jenny’s hair is still green.