Sunday, March 20, 2011

Holi – Part 2 (The Fluffy Bunnies and Face Painting version)

If you skipped “Holi - Part 1 (X Rated!)” - here's a quick recap.

This weekend was the festival of Holi. Holi is the Hindi equivalent of Easter – it is a resurrection story. To be honest though, from what I've seen the reasons for the festival have kind of been lost in what it has turned into (much like Easter and Christmas in much of the UK) – it is the festival of colour. We'd been on a day trip to SE Jharkhand and gone to a temple.

It's now mid-afternoon and we're back in the car, en route to Satinder's parent's house. When we arrive we walk through into a really nice big courtyard. We sit down and they bring out a plate of Indian finger food. Bhajis are probably the only ones most UK people would recognise, but we also had Pakora, Duska and a load of other things I can't remember! We also all had a beer, apparently this is a big tradition on Holi. Well, I'm not one to deny tradition, am I? ;-)

We sat talking for a while, then someone brought out some plates of coloured powder – Holi time!

Playing Holi is very simple. You take a handful of coloured powder (smells like talc!) and rub it all into a person's face. Done! At first people were drawing lines on faces, etc. but it slowly descended into simply smothering the other person with the stuff :-) No-one was safe, not even the fairly serious looking mother and father of the house!

By this time it's getting a bit dark, probably coming up for 6pm and people are starting to talk about heading back to H.bag as we need to visit Rajesh's house too apparently. However, first we have another visit to make. One of Satinder's brothers has recently been given a grant to open a piggery. Apparently it's very important that we see this, so off we go, down dirt roads and fields, until eventually we pull up outside of a small building.

We go inside the courtyard and for some reason they get the pigs out of the pens. I'm never really sure what to do in these situations. I have no idea about pigs, I have no real interest in piggery. There's only so much you can say in these situations.....awkward!

Back into the car, but now another of Satinder's friends wants us to go to his house. I'm guessing it's rude to say no, because even though we've been told we need to get going for the last hour, off we go again. Another house, more finger food, more beer. Then another house, same deal. And another. And another! I'm not joking – we visited 6 houses in total I think, and were served beer and little fried snacks in all of them!

Finally we seem to be about to leave and while we were waiting I saw a group of people shouting and banging on drums so I went to investigate. They were next to a small outdoor shrine. There was a mixture of percussion instruments. There was no discernible beat / rhythm to their playing, but they seemed happy enough.....

….until they saw me watching – then they got really excited. Next thing I know, I've got a kind of tambourine (imagine if you could flatten a tambourine out – so basically a long stick with mini-cymbals in it) in one hand and I'm dancing in the middle of this group as they smack their drums in what I firmly believe was a completely random manner!

Cue more Holi powder. Yet another beer and snacks. Another bout of dancing and drumming and finally we get in the car and set off. It's now 10pm and we have been talking about needing to leave for four hours! We finally reach Rajesh's place, where we get given....yep, more beer and snacks! I'm pretty knackered now, to be honest!

Eventually we get back to Hazaribag, but the fun hasn't finished yet. After dropping Rajesh and Efren off, I get dropped near to my flat, which I find to be locked – again! It's locked from the inside, but after 10mins of banging on the door I have to admit defeat – no-one is opening it! I have to walk all the way back to Efren's and sleep there – doh!

Next morning, we sit around chatting for a bit, until about 9am and then set out. Efren wants to get me to try some “Bell juice”, which he's been going on about enthusiastically for the last couple of days.

A bit of an aside here. I was a bit worried about Holi in terms of ruining my clothes. But powder comes off easily, so I put a different t-shirt on this morning – not my “ruinable” one.

We start off up Efren's road. There are some kids up ahead. One of them has a water pistol. An alarm starts going off in my head. I edge slightly away from Efren.....

Yep, good move. The kid knows Efren and shoots him. With paint. On his nice white t-shirt! I'm beginning to think this might not be a good day to venture outside! We carry on no more than 10 yards up the road. Up ahead are two slightly older boys. Maybe 13. They're holding what look like tennis balls.....

….and turn out to be paint bombs! We both get caked in paint. My shorts are covered. Efren is even worse! I'm now fairly sure I'm going to get massacred by the kids outside my flat. They're always there, they love trying to talk to me in English, they'll love caking me in paint even more....

….they did. They throw paint, they spray it, they shoot it. They're an inventive lot. If there is something that could be used to propel paint, they've got it. Below is what I looked like when I finally got into my flat. I should have taken some of my back really, that took most of the punishment!

So there you have it. Holi. A pretty bizarre weekend, even by India's standards, I'm sure you'll agree!


  1. Yeh I just had to laugh at the bit about you getting locked at the bit about Efran's white shirt getting Holi'd! I can just see his face :)

  2. Haha - yeah, it's not the first time I've been locked out either!

    Efren was definitely not a happy bunny either. Although I think it was one of his favourite shirts....oops!