Holi Hai! A Festival of Colours

Holi is a spring festival celebrated mainly in northern India. It’s a happy and visually exciting event and the most popular place to photograph Holi is in Braj Bhoomi, where Lord Krishna spent his childhood years.

At the 'Samaaj' in Nandgaon Temple #1

During the celebrations at the temple courtyard, people from the villages of Barsana and Nandgaon sit across each other singing, dancing and conversing.

At the 'Samaaj' in Nandgaon Temple #2
Gulaal (coloured powder) is thrown on devotees by the pandits (priests) as ‘prashad’ (a religious gift).

Asthamatics Beware! Gulaal gets everywhere - in the eyes, nose, mouth and ears.

Yellow Rain

Gulaal is also mixed with water and sprayed using water guns or thrown on unsuspecting women from rooftops and balconies. Needless to say, the female posterior is the target for most water guns, and mine was a ‘big’ target on many occasions!

In earlier times, Gulaal was made from natural sources like trees and flowers, but now synthetic dyes have taken over. It’s difficult to get this color of and I’m loving my hair stained with red, and the colored toe nails, too!

The auspicious presence of 'Hijras' (eunuchs)

There are many references to the power of the combined man/woman in Hindu mythology, ritual, and art.

In 'Bhang' (marijuana) heaven!

'Thandai' (marijuana laced milk) is the preferred drink during Holi.

Laththmaar Holi in Barsana

Holi is essentially about the love story between Radha and Krishna. Lord Krishna (from Nandgaon) visited Radha's village (Barsana) and playfully teased her and her friends. Taking offence at this, the women chased him away with sticks.

To celebrate this legend, men from Nandgaon visit Barsana and the next day men from Barsana visit Nandgaon. Women dress in their wedding finery and beat the visiting villagers with lathths (sticks) to chase them out of the village. The men ward of the attack with padded shields.

The ecstatically happy and dirty photographers! Photowalk Dubai meets Photowalk Delhi meets APF Magazine Street Photography group. Photo Credit: A kind soul!

A couple of challenges we faced:

- Trying to make a photo without getting any photographers in the frame.

- Focusing the camera through layers of wet, colored cling wrap.

- Keeping the lens clean and dry.

- No food for 10 hours.

- And, no toilet break for 8-10 hours, either!

Content and Spent! Hungry, pelted by water jets and had gulaal rubbed on my face ever so often! Thanks Varun Dawar for this photo.

Thank you Vineet Vohra and Rohit Vohra (APF Magazine Street Photography) for being the most inspirational street photographers out there. You guys are amazing teachers and Vineet’s wise words are still ringing in my ears, ‘Get out of your comfort zone’.

A big thank you to my fellow workshop attendees for being an awesome group to be with. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and for shielding me from the stray instances of lewd behavior which we females unfortunately get subjected to!

I hope to be back in Braj Bhoomi someday, to make the shots that I missed and improve on the images I got.

Happy Holi and Welcome to Spring!

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