Tuesday 2 March 2010


Holi is a big holiday in India. In some parts of the country it is quite chaotic with everyone taking to the streets, often quite intoxicated, dressed in old clothes  and armed with squirt bottles (or bigger) of water and bags of paint powder in typically Indian colours - fluorescent pinks, brights purples, lime greens, saffron yellows, day glow blues etc. Everyone wears old clothes and gets mucky! All great fun.

Here in my district of Rayagada it was perhaps a little more sedate. Round our nagar it was clearly a day for children, with adults joining in, it was a bit like Halloween Guising nights at home in Scotland: groups of kids joined together and went round to each others houses, mothers handed out sweets - Indian barfi and the like, made with lots and lots of sugar and condensed milk - sweet enough to rival Scottish tablet! Lots of Happy Holi greetings are exchanged, paint is delicately applied by the host finger to the visitor's face a la war paint, then the kids are off outside - kept amply supplied by adults refilling buckets of water and bringing out more paint powder. The game is effecively a junior version of paintball, with the aim being to get as much paint on everyone else as possible and to scream and shout as load as you can in sheer exhuberance. Our group consisted of my landlady's daughter and her friend Julie who are both 12 , plus younger brother and sister, sister's friend, and their cousin who is my boss's daughter. Escorting adults were myself and my boss's father.

My boss's daughter is only an only child and has only just turned 4. It was all a bit bewildering to her as she watched the older kids squirt away, not quite knowing whether or how to get involved. Every so often she would get hit by some paint and look down at her dress and be on the verge of tears trying to brush the paint off. I suspect she was worried in case she would get told of for getting her clothes dirty. As the others yelped and screamed on typical girlie fashion, she just stood on the outskirts and  watched. I decided she needed a helping hand, so my bottle became hers and we squeezed and squirted togther. I got her to dowse me and then I reciprocate with a little bit, telling her that today it was Ok. Finally she was confident enough to try to fling some of the bottle's contents on her own. A big step for a small girl in amongst the bigger ones. One adult had a nice feeling of success too! However, all the bigger ones running around shouting and scrreaming clearly got too much for her and she saught refuge on her grandpa's knee. 

The whole trip probably lasted just over and hour.  It was great to see the kids having such innocent fun. We walked past the local building works where the day labourer women were also having a day off work. It is one of the  few days I have seen them not working away carting bricks, lifting long poles of metal supporting struts for the building, mixing cement etc. They too all sported old clothes and holi paints. Finally,  we headed home for a well needed wash. We washed down outside first to try and get the worst off. It took several attempts to get it all off, out of my hair and ears. I was only left with one stubborn patch across the bridge of my nose which  will have to steadily disappear over the next few washes, and a few pinks spots on my kurta which will now have to be consigned to next years old clothes for Holi bin.


  1. That was great fun...looks n' sounds awesome..what a tradition!!!


  2. oh that wqs precious and made me sit here and just smile away! What a great tradition.

    When my kids were little I would meet them at the bus stop on the last day of school, my arms loaded with water balloons. Our corner became the favorite one for all the neighborhood kids getting off the bus on the last day of school each year! :)

  3. When I was on the Soren Larsen we had great fun with water balloons and indeed water canon! I remember a great pirate style raid on us one evening in Port Villa, Vanuatu by the crewe of the Alvei - everyone was thoroughly soaked and had a great time, and then all sat down togther for a beer. Took me back to childhood fun, except for the beer part - great days!

  4. You have summarized the post in a good way. Liked it. You may get all the details about Holi 2020, Holika dahan story and different Holi celebrations easily through this.