As my face is gently smeared with color for the fourth time I suddenly think “Oh! So that’s how it’s done.”
While foreigners viciously throw the powdered color used to celebrate Holi Festival, the Nepalis smear it on your face. gently, with reverence. And I’m trusting them to know how it’s supposed to be done – it’s their holiday after all.
As I parade down the street with my group of friends, we are continually smeared with paint and shot with water guns. This mix of water and color creates a sloppy yet beautiful mess all over our faces and clothes. And little do we know, this is just the start to the crazy festival of colors known as Holi Festival.
The screaming and singing confirms that we are close before I can see the thousands of colorful Nepalis dancing in the square.
We have followed the crowd, which has led us into the heart of the city to the scene of a bustling party of extreme proportions, and of course, color.
As we try and make our way through we are “attacked” from every side. Being a Westerner, every Nepali wants to smear their own handful of power on your cheeks no matter how covered you may already be.
It’s hard to make any progress when all you see are green, red, and yellow hands in front of your face, but I don’t mind. Today is all about the experience.
It’s fun, but as I prefer to watch, I quietly sneak out to the sidelines to observe.
Around me there are thousands of young Nepalis laughing and celebrating, and I realize that a city has rarely looked as alive as it does today.
Though smearing color may be the purpose of this gathering, it also looks like a perfectly good excuse for a day off to party, get together with friends, and celebrate life. It’s the buzzing atmosphere that makes this day feel so special.
We sit down to eat at a small outdoor restaurant and watch as children run up and down the street chasing each other with water and color, mercilessly pouring both down on their friend’s heads. What a festival indeed.
I have always seen documentaries of Holi Festival depicting this infamous color-throwing Hindu holiday, but I never thought I would get to experience it for real.
Though I knew the holiday took place in India, it didn’t occur to me until I saw it with my own eyes that it would also be celebrated in Nepal.
Being smeared with the powder myself fulfilled my lifelong dream of partaking in the chaotic festival of colors. Creating and receiving a mess has never been so much fun.
Have you experienced Holi Festival? Where? Would you do it again?
by Shirine Taylor a 20-year old solo female traveler cycling around the world, and a regular contributor to The Happy Passport. Follow her journey at awanderingphoto.wordpress.com.
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1. Holi Festival takes place in Nepal as well as India, Bangladesh, South Africa, and many other countries around the world
2. One part of the Holi festival involves getting smeared head to toe with brightly colored paints, throwing paint at friends and strangers, and using water and water guns to liquefy paint powders
3. You probably don't want to bring your camera or smartphone to Holi Festival!!
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