March 27, 2013 by brasiersarah
We were told that the origin of Holi was located not far from Varanasi, so since the south was known not to celebrate it like the north we hitched a plane to chaos. The above picture was taken the day before the offical date you can see that the colours were already starting to fly.Taken from our balcony these children went from house to house playing loud music that grated on the ear drums, I didn’t know wether I was paying them money for the show or to go away.This is the fire that marks the start of the festival of colours fires were lit all around the city to mark the celebration. There are many legends associated with Holi and why it is celebrated attributing many gods and stories as to why such a beautiful celebration exists. So just like Hinduism you can pick what ever story or god you want because there sure as hell isn’t a shortage of them.The before shots.We bought white shirts specifically for the day as a memory to our time in India and Holi. Our chosen accommodation couldn’t have been more fitting given the occasion. The Entire guesthouse was painted like this and colours popped out from the walls and almost demanded you be in a good mood!Our arsenal. Filled with an array of colours coming in all forms, liquid, powder and water guns. We were well prepared and gave no one mercy.As fun as Holi is the Indian men are said to get a little out of control especially if there is a women around and as westerners you are strongly advised not to go out onto the main streets. We were lucky enough to spend it in a small gated community with several families who welcomed us with open arms and hands full of colours.This was the girl who sheepishly approached the night before and Holi and said “would you like to play Holi with us tomorrow?”. Ha she had no idea that our guns were loaded and we were playing wether she liked it or not! Class or caste is an irrelevant system as soon as the first colours are thrown and it’s every man for himself. Your accomplice that helped you drench someone will be the next one rubbing colours in your face, you can trust no one in this war that is Holi.A beautiful celebration that brings everyone together a celebration that I’m determine to bring back to Australia. The love hate relationship you hear of India? Well this is the love part were people treat you as if you were a part of the family it is to humbling to describe. Some of these colours literally take weeks to get off but as I write this now white of skin I miss the pink that stained my body for so long.The casualties of war, no one wins this battle except the colour. The after shots. For three days I kept this shirt on fearing another attack that never came.The first attempt of getting the colours off which seemed more like an attempt at spreading them all over our bodies, nothing worked except time.
The last colours had been thrown and fires burnt, the masses retreated to their bathrooms to wash away the celebration. One day I hope to again try to furiously scrub these colours away.One of the Babas on the banks on the Ganges, this guys is a Jata known for growing their hair into massive deadlocks as you can see. Babas are a wondering monks that devote their entire life to meditation so they can achieve the forth and final stage of life Asrama. There are many types of Babas some vow never to sit or lie down others will forever hold their hands above their heads while some simply meditate. There are makeshift tents and shanty houses that line the Ganges that the Babas live in, no one will make them move because India is a very spiritually aware nation that hold holy men and women in high regard. Most of the Babas I saw either wanted hash or money and seemed like glorified bums to me. But I was at one of the most touristy spots in India which always seems to attract a certain type of Indian people.And as always a humble match of cricket, something can can be observed without a doubt everywhere you go in India….sometimes think it is praised more than Brama or Vishnu themselves.The Ganges are said to run straight from the heavens down to earth making it one of the holiest of places to be. The dead are burnt at the banks and their ashes spread into the river granting them instant salvation skipping the hassle of reincarnations. As children are not allowed to be burnt their bodies are simply dumped into the river, an interesting sight to see indeed. I stood and watched a body slowly burn on the river and through the smoke a small boat meandered its way to the centre and a small delicate body of a child was dumped into the river. I cannot say that I am a spiritual man or one that values religious beliefs but emotion churned inside me in Varanasi both the good and the bad.