We have finally made it. We have endured the grey skies of Winter and are stepping into this miraculous time of renewal, fertility, and regeneration, when we sow our seeds and watch them dance forth into being. SPRING is finally here! There are so many rituals and holidays the world over that welcome the season of rebirth. And so, like the flowing sap and waters of Spring, this year we decided to get our own creative juices flowing and try something completely out of the ordinary to kick off this fabulous season.
Intrigued by a photo passed along years ago by Rochelle of an absolute explosion of paint, this year I thought we’d learn a bit more about what this photo was all about. It turns out it was taken at the Festival of Colors, officially called ‘Holi,’ which is a full on celebration of fertility and Spring in India. As we learned more about its traditions, and meaning and myth wove its way into our hearts, we decided we absolutely had to check it out for ourselves in person.
The story is told of the two great lovers Radha and Krishna… playmates who lived in Krishna’s palace as young children. Krishna had skin the color of a brilliant blue sky on a cloudless day; Radha’s skin glowed like the radiance of the sun. And while all the young cow-herding maidens of the palace adored Krishna, Radha was his destined divine true love. Young Krishna, being full of mischief and playfulness as young boys are apt to be, decided he wanted Radha’s face to be as blue as his. His mother Yashoda, wanting to appease her son, suggested he take the pots of colored paint and color Radha’s face. Sure enough, on a day when Radha was surrounded by her young friends the Gopis, he stole into their female circle and began to throw paint at his beloved playmate. Before long, Radha and all the young female admirers of Krishna threw paint back; bodies, clothes and hair were soon drowning in all the colors of the rainbow, and the Color Festival was born.
Celebrated in India on the first lunar moon of the third month, the undertones of love, eroticism, and playfulness are evident as lovers and friends drench each other in the bright hues of Springtime. Luckily for us, this fabulous festival seems to be making its way around the world; searching for our own version of Holi here in New England, we happened upon a welcoming community gathering at Masala Art in Needham, Massachusetts. With young daughters in tow, we spent an unforgettable day eating traditional Indian food and drinking Indian Summers and virgin Bhangs (mango and coconut based drinks). We enviously adored the colorful saris of the women and girls. We danced under spinning bright lights and watched traditional dances and musical performances.
And finally…it was time for the Coloring. Cloaked in white, we made our way outside into the melee where brilliant colored powder awaited us. The heartbeat of the Earth could be heard in the sounds of the drums as our new Indian friends poured color over our clothes, hair, arms, faces. ‘Happy Holi’ was the mantra of the afternoon, always delivered with a smile from ear to ear.
Our daughters declared it was ‘one of the best days ever,’ a telling sign of success. We found a store where we can buy the paint ourselves and are already concocting our own version of Holi for next year. And while we can’t compete with the full bounty of Mother Earth’s true colors, there’s no question it is henceforth a tradition for our two families to welcome in Spring with the throwing of paint in some way. We hope some of you will join us next time, on the third full moon, either here at our homegrown celebration, or perhaps we can color each other at a real Color Festival somewhere in the world.
Happy Holi to all!
Kiss the Earth,