Pushkar's Purple People

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March 6th 2007
Published: March 10th 2007
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Kids having fun for Holi Kids having fun for Holi Kids having fun for Holi

Notice the women hiding in the doorway!
Pushkar: no meat, no eggs, and no alcohol but heaps of fun! Especially when you're there for Holi. Holi is the Hindu festival of colour, and like all good Hindu festivals there's no shortage colour, music, fun, and strange behaviour.

According to the newspaper article we read in Mumbai: Holi occurs at the onset of Spring when the weather changes for the new season. Traditionally the cold winds brought with them colds, coughs and viral fevers. To offset this, people threw coloured ayurvedic powders at each other. The powders were a mix of medicinal plant leaves and herbs that would ease the ailments that arrived with Spring.

Nowadays the powders are all chemical and lack any of the medicinal roots, but still the festival remains and is celebrated by throwing coloured powder and water on friends, family, neighbours, animals, and random strangers, on the day after the first full moon in March.

From the roof we watched as kids ran about drenching each other with bottles of coloured water, and throwing coloured powder on anything daring to move on the streets. It was urban guerilla warfare. Kids dropping coloured bombs from the rooftops and ambushing neighbours with powder causing coloured dust plumes to rise from the streets.

We ventured out armed with what we thought was a big bag of multi coloured power, but realised within minutes that we had come out seriously under supplied.

Our munitions were prised from our hands and turned upon us, so that within seconds we resmbled some kind of rainbow freakshow - pink powder in the hair, a splash of green on the neck, some orange smudged up the nose, a dash of red in our ears, purple smeared on the neck, topped off by a bucket of blue water for the shoulders. And for good measure a few fistfulls of flour were dusted over the top. And then more water. And then more colour. And still some more water. And just when we thought there was no powder left, some was scraped off the street (complete with gravel and dirt!) and smeared on our faces.

Mostly just men and children played while the women remained safely ensconced in their homes viewing the festivities from afar. Laughter filled the streets and there were big smiles everywhere (especially when a target had been properly drenched). Some played drums; the rythmic
Dave the king of the kids Dave the king of the kids Dave the king of the kids

The hippie clothes came in handy!
beating accompanied by chanting or singing.

In the evening after several showers we walked through the streets to witness the aftermath. A thick purple dust covered the ground; the drains ran pink; splotches of colour and handprints stained the walls; dogs and cows bore pink and blue streaks; and pink clothes hung from powerlines; human skin and hair were brightly stained.

Even a couple of days later you could ascertain how long and hard a person had 'played': if skin was still marred with a purple and pink tinge, and coloured streaks remained in the hair then it was a fair bet that they'd Holi-ed it up!

Aside from the purple people there's a few pushy 'priests' who hang out by the pretty lake and try and coerce you into donating money which kind of spoils the atmosphere. But we still managed a couple of days here just hanging out, sustained by the delicious Israeli fare, and had some good company including another couple of travelbloggers - Jenny and Randy of Hellotrain, both of whom had a purple tinge!

Additional photos below
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16th March 2007

Finally able to view your blogs
Great to hear your having such a great time !!!!! would have loved to have been rainbow coloured with you both keep on keeping on love Deb xxx
16th March 2007

rock on
yo piers and trac here, looks like you are having some awsome experiences. is india as mental as you were expecting. Cornwall is about to set off on the summer drive for tourists and is warming up. hope you guys are cool and loving every minute
16th March 2007

Hi guys!
Hope the rest of Sri Lanka was great and Sri Pada didn't hurt too much! India's not too mental actually but it does have it's moments! Oh how we miss the Sri Lankan rice and curry!!

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