If yesterday (Holi Day 1 – Holika Dahan) was one of my more memorable days in India, I knew that today was going to take things to a completely new level.
Having done all I could to protect my camera the evening before, I stepped out onto the streets of Jodhpur old city at 9:30am, with an a feeling of excitement, anticipation, and apprehension in equal measures.
My strategy was to try and get some colour on me as soon as possible in the quieter back streets before going to more populous areas. I really didn’t know what to expect, and had heard that things can on occasions get a little out of control with over excited people fuelled perhaps with a little Bahng (intoxicating drink containing cannabis). If I was covered with colour early on, I hoped it would perhaps lessen the chances of me being an easy target.
The plan worked, or was perhaps unavoidable, within 20 seconds of stepping out I received my first Holi greeting, and covering with powder.
Holi is something best represented by photos, and I have a lot of them 🙂 This is a brief account of how the day unfolded in words, and I will let the photos do most of the talking.
I apologise if it takes a while to upload this page, I honestly tried to cut down on the number of photos, this represents just 10% of what I took that day…
This is a festival that has no boundaries; gender, cast, age, nationality – it’s simply complete and utter mayhem !! But what did surprise me was just how friendly the atmosphere, how immensely happy everybody was, and how much they respected me as clearly an outsider experiencing this for the first time.
Of course I got the Holi treatment over and over again, but everyone did spot that I had a large camera with me, and held back a little when threatening to throw water.
The coloured powder used to be made from natural substances like turmeric, but now synthetic colours are mostly used. I’m not sure how great that is for your own personal health or the environment, and I had heard that the colours are difficult to wash out. I had a plan to help with that which seemed to work and I will post about shortly.
I ended up spending a lot of time by a couple of families that lived opposite each other in the old city. Here they were not only attacking each other, but also the passing traffic (mostly on motorbikes). Powder thrown, water pistols deployed, balloon bombs thrown – they had the full array of weaponry available to them.
Everyone was having a great time, as was I. At one point I was invited into their homes and offered every sweet/snack you could possibly imagine. It was a welcome break from the war zone outside, and such a friendly gesture.
Around midday a small lorry materialises right outside where I’m standing. It’s full of men only, they start singing and stepping down onto the street. One has a drum, many of them have bamboo sticks…and they start walking towards me, singing…
I have absolutely no idea what is happening. They all start gathering in the doorway opposite, and then someone grabs me and asks that I sit in the far end of the doorway facing out. Am I about to get some special Holi treatment ? What on earth is about to happen ???
A young man is then sat down in front of me, a large bamboo cane is held horizontally above his head, and all the men surround him beating the cane with their own sticks, and also occasionally touching his head with the sticks. Throughout all of this they’re chanting, it’s clearly a happy event but I have no idea what it’s about. I then notice that in the man’s lap is a wrapped up baby.
I later find out that this is a Rajasthani ritual called Dundh – and occurs on the first Holi of a new born child.
It was a privilege to witness, and I was basically dragged into that doorway purely so I could photograph it. They knew it would be an experience for me, and it certainly was !
Afterwards families served sweets in the street, and before long the men were back on the lorry and making their way to…well, again, I have no idea !
I didn’t see this ritual performed anywhere else, I just happened to be at the right place at the right time, complete luck!
I decided to have a little break from all the activity outside and headed to the Shri Gangashyam Maharaj Mandir (temple) where I went yesterday for some of the day.
This offered me a completely different Holi experience, different in that this time mostly with women who were dancing and chanting in front of the temple idol.
The priest occasionally threw colours over everyone, and the atmosphere was simply incredible, one of simply joy and love. If I went back to Jodhpur to experience Holi again, I think I would spend a lot more time in this temple.
Of course I had no idea of timings of anything, and within 30 minutes the celebration came to an abrupt end and the temple emptied. Again, I just happened to be at the right place at the right time.
By mid afternoon it was clear that people’s stocks of coloured powder were running out. There was a distinct lack of ammo available ! The streets were filled with people on their motorbikes, parading through the old city and just having a great time !
By 5pm things start to calm down. People started cleaning up both themselves and their houses, and prepare for family dinners that evening. As I headed back to my haveli to start the process of cleaning myself up, I was invited into a courtyard where a couple of families had just finished their own celebrations.
They were keen to be photographed, and who was I to refuse, just another 30 shots added to the 1,000 already taken…
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