So, during this return to Goa, we were fortunate enough to book our trip over the Indian festival of Holi.
No one could give me a clear answer as to what Holi was, exactly. A bit like if an Indian person was to ask us why we hide chocolate eggs around the garden each March. Basically it has many stages, and although officially is only celebrated on March 9th & 10th, the paint started appearing from the 7th!
For those who do wish to know more, Google informs me: “Holi has been celebrated in the Indian subcontinent for centuries, with poems documenting celebrations dating back to the 4th century CE. It marks the beginning of spring after a long winter, symbolic of the triumph of good over evil. It is celebrated in March, corresponding to the Hindu calendar month of Phalguna. In 2020, Holi begins March 10.”
We started to see a few ladies appear up and down the beach with coloured powders, ceremoniously daubing is with paint, before opening their palms and asking for money. I don’t think this is really what Holi is about. Everyone is on the hustle here, and any chance to make a quick rupee is taken.
Case in point being this gorgeous little man who I came across when buying petrol from his parents. He came at me all excitable, pushing his chubby little thumb into my forehead and being all cute. He then asked for a selfie, and a high-five. I was quite pleased with the entire interaction as usually I avoid all children like the plague, and this one seemed surprisingly pleasant. It wasn’t until I happened to turn around and look back that I saw him clutching a cardboard box with “HoLi DoNaTiONs” scrawled on it in crayon that I realised I’d been had.
Anyway, for the run up to Holi, we heard a lot of banging each night - after several unsuccessful trips to find the source, I then stumbled upon the noise creators when I was on a shop trip for pringles (v important mission.) The men of the village put on these awesome hats and robes, and travel house to house, banging the drums and bringing “joy and blessings to the house” - it was a proper racket, but an absolute joy to see, even if the headwear really reminded me of Davy Crockett.
We were then invited to partake in the Holi evening celebrations with the guys who run the place we are staying it. They lit a fire, and placed several different spices and herbs in it. We each took a handful of spices, like large peppercorns, and placed it into the fire. Apparently this represents putting all the negative things in your life into the fire, and they are then unable to come back.
(Apparently you can’t put significant others into the fire, but it’s always worth asking)
We were then daubed with paint on our foreheads and cheeks, and said “happy Holi” a lot. It was super lovely. We were then given some sweet treats, such as sugary peanuts and cookies, whilst watching the fire burn out. It was really sweet.
The next morning we were woken with many a “Happy Holi!” but it wasn’t until after lunch that the festivities really began. After wishing the barman, Johnny, a happy Holi, he took my face in his palms and absolutely smothered me with paint powder. This this kicked off an absolutely epic hour long paint fight.
The music was changed to some brilliantly upbeat Bhangra, and everyone was given packets of powder paint which we all took great delight in throwing at each other. The manager Victor then arrived, and had gone one step further by mixing the paint with water. Thus ensued an incredibly long water/paint fight, where everyone ended up an absolutely medley of colours. It was such great fun, drinks were provided and I had a great boogie with all the staff.
Due to the state of us all, we all then bundled into the sea to wash, where we discovered that the pink paint stuck quite firmly to white skin, and no amount of scrubbing was convincing it to shift.
An absolutely lovely, brilliant day with so much community spirit and joy.
It’s also Wednesday 11th now.
Bertie’s forehead is still pink.