The Hindu Holi festival (2 March 2018) marks the start of spring according to the lunar calendar. It is celebrated by excited people (in our experience, usually by children or young men) rather exuberantly throwing coloured water and powder (gulal) over each other and, of course, over unwitting tourists like us.
The view from the bus
That morning we were in Badami where we woke to find the town quite quiet with lots of restaurants and shops having shutters shut (this is to prevent paint being thrown inside their premises). The bus station was also unusually quiet but not quite quiet enough as we were “attacked” by about 8 boys all completely soaked in paint themselves who also decided we were also fair game. And so, like it or not, the festivities for us begun.
While on the bus, we went past lots of groups of people playing Holi who were also set up and ready to throw paint at any vehicle (especially if they saw any open windows). In some places, they had even set up road blocks to ensure that passing traffic would have to slow and therefore be caught: this didn’t work so much for state buses which just tended to maintain their speed and lean even more heavily on their horns than usual which seemed to work as the children quickly dismantled the road blocks. Inside the bus, everyone became pretty adept at making sure all windows were closed when we were approaching a group of Holi celebrators.
Even the “holy” cows got caught up in the cross fire
Having cleaned off in our hotel on arrival in Viyapura (big mistake), we were then assailed again on at least four separate occasions. We hadn’t thought Holi would be that widely celebrated in this town as there is a strong Muslim influence here (the most significant we’ve seen to date) but oh no, that proved not to be the case and soon we had more paint – most commonly pink, orange and gold – over us again topped off with a bit of coloured powder too for good measure. It was all done in good humour and saying “no” didn’t seem to be that much of an option despite my best efforts. Fortunately, most of it washed off although not necessarily on the first attempt.
Different groups favoured different colours – pink, orange etc – all equally messy!