Life in Color: Family, Festivals and India

Bright and vibrant colors is one of life's passions for me. To my utmost joy and pleasure, radiant and beautiful colors are what I have encountered so far in every aspect I have visited in the Indian continent.

When I first reached India, I was blown away by all the mesmerizing shades and hues of red, orange, yellow, blue, green found in spices sold in the streets. The rickshaw auto that you get to see and ride all the time, street vendors full of different types of fruits like colored pyramids, breathtaking Indian outfits, embroidered patterns and wonderfully colored saris, kurtas and colorful temples.

Lemon feast- photo credit to IDEX fellow, Mary Borowiec

Lemon feast- photo credit to IDEX fellow, Mary Borowiec

When you hear someone yelling in the street, you can ensure that someone is selling some tomatoes/ vegetables out there!

When you hear someone yelling in the street, you can ensure that someone is selling some tomatoes/ vegetables out there!

From time to time I get to bump into some plain white buildings, but soon enough those buildings get magically colored by the hangings of washed clothes waiting to dry under the heat of an illuminating sun, as if the buildings were waiting to be adorned in the most colorful clothes.

Office view: plain building with some gorgeous clothing

Office view: plain building with some gorgeous clothing

To further satisfy and quench my thirst for more colors, I was blessed not only to feast my eyes on them but also to touch, play and throw them in a magical display of joy and happiness in the most eventful time of the year, the holi festival. "Holi" is a religious Hindu festival that celebrates love and many powerful meanings; one of which is that "good will always win and overcome evil". It also goes by different names such as the “color festival”.

In addition, the holi celebrates the arrival of spring season as it is considered a “farewell” for the winter season. Holi is also a festive day that has a cultural background, were it demonstrates the notion of forgiveness, as to “end and rid oneself of past errors, to end conflicts by meeting others and a day to forget and forgive”.

The mere concept behind such a festival made me curious and interested to read more about it and try experiencing it in the best means possible. The colors used in the festival we attended were all made from powder extracted from natural sources, for example, red is extracted from the beetroot plant, brown is from tealeaves, blue is extracted from Indian berries, grapes and they are all chemical free. Unlike most of the holi colors you see in the streets, which actually are not natural and they are used with synthetic dyes. 

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That being said, people like me will have a bigger chance to throw colored powder confidently without worrying about other people's eyes, clothes and the list goes on of worrisome stuff that might negatively affect the other party. So I get to keep in mind that the powder used in this specific event was all-natural and all my worries diminish and the colourful fun begins.

This happy event was further highlighted and complemented by sharing it with the two people closest to my heart… my parents.

I was keen on experiencing the holi festival to the fullest while in India; and after much research and inquiry we decided to celebrate this wonderful day with the locals in Udaipur, a wonderful city in the North of India situated in the state of Rajasthan. Aptly called “The City of Lakes”, Udaipur is a magical place surrounded by water and lush greenery. Filled with an array of birds, their songs fill the city, giving it a musical quality that makes it truly unique. 

Photos cannot do justice to the beauty of Udaipur.

Photos cannot do justice to the beauty of Udaipur.

I started off by buying three plain white Kurta pajamas for my parents and me to wear. It resembles the beauty of having a white frosty start like an artist who gets all colors of inspiration and lays it on his white canvas. You can only imagine what happened to those crisp white attires at the end of the day. I personally love the pink colour, so my parents were obviously covered with pink; as of myself I had a purplish face, yet we all ended up having a ray of rainbow all over the place. Colors were fairly spread; starting from the ground we stand on to our bodily figures then aiming so high until it reached the blue skies.

Before photo: clean and fresh for now!

Before photo: clean and fresh for now!

So, let the chasing game begin! I saw the childish side of my parents, mom hiding from me to take me by surprise with one egg full of colors tossed on my white kurta, dad was a bit worried about his eyes! Oh don’t throw it on my face, he says! But dad the powder is made from rice flour and colors extracted from natural sources, I said. As soon as I say don’t worry, a hand full of colored powder follows my word and gets ready to be thrown at them right away, were the act of throwing the colors in the holi festival is actually called “playing holi”.

The once so-called clean white kurtas were no longer their natural shade. As we were all covered from head to toe with various colors and hues, we ended up getting new brand colored kurtas. It was a bonding experience with my parent’s that was beyond worthwhile and this snapshot of a merry day will be carved in my memory forever.

After photo: The final lively look, still smiling! 

After photo: The final lively look, still smiling! 

India is truly an ideal place to celebrate the Holi Festival. Whether in the north, south, west or east, the festival seems real and authentic, where you can feel the vibrant energy. I was genuinely fortunate to celebrate the festival of colors in India, the most colorful and diverse place in the world. More importantly, it was an honor and a privilege to share the experience with the locals of Udaipur and of course, my parents, who taught me that every experience should be a colorful one.