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Celebrating New Beginnings Colorfully in India at Holi Festival

Holi Festival
Holi Festival

When I got home from a two week Photography Tour in India recently, a dear friend wanted to schedule a long lunch right away so I could share the stories of my adventure while they were still fresh in my mind.

We settled into our seats at a favorite EGR restaurant and I happily told her about the fascinating trip beginning with the Holi Festival. It was certainly the most dramatic and one of most memorable of the daily adventures.  Right off the bat, she asked, “What’s the significance of all the colors?

Significance of Color

Hah! Couldn’t answer that.  When you go on a photography tour there is less emphasis on learning about the culture as there is about taking pictures of it.  We were all obsessed with pointing our lenses at the foreign and fascinating scenes all around. It’s why we signed up.  While great fun, it did leave some gaps in my cultural knowledge.

Holi Festival
Holi Festival

As soon as I got home from our leisurely lunch, I fired up the internet to research her question and this is what I learned.

First, color is really important to the Indian psyche. It’s every where and have significance. But I knew that. Color is a really big deal in India!

For more about color in India, read India: Country of Colors.

White is all about purity but also mourning. It’s the color widows wear. But more about that later. Black is considered ugly, evil and undesirable. It is worn to ward off evil.

Widows at the Holi Festival
Widows at the Holi Festival
Widows at the Holi Festival
Widows at the Holi Festival

People wear and celebrate color everywhere especially at the Holi Festival.

The main colors seen in the Holi Festival are red which reflects love and fertility. Blue is the color of Krishna. Yellow is the color for turmeric, revered because of its medicinal properties and green symbolizes spring and new beginnings.

When I look back at my images of the various events where Holi was celebrated I didn’t see blue paint. Surprised me because in my research I read that Holi started because the supreme Hindu diety, Krishna fell in love with the goddess Rahha but was concerned with the differences in their skin color, his being blue.

His mother advised him to playfully paint her face to overcome their differences.

RADHA KRISHNA ✨ Artist: Mahendra Dubey

Whether he did or not, they never married, but their relationship is legendary in the Hindu traditions.

Hope you enjoy some scenes of the Holi Festival in Vrindavan and at the Hola Mohalla where people thronged the streets and temples going mad smearing colored paint on each other……and……haha….on me.

Holi Festival
Holi Festival
Holi Festival
Holi Festival
Holi Festival
Holi Festival
Holi Festival
Holi Festival
Holi Festival
Holi Festival
Celebrating Holi at Hola Mahalla
Celebrating Holi at Hola Mohalla
Celebrating Holi at Hola Mahalla
Celebrating Holi at Hola Mohalla
Celebrating Holi at Hola Mahalla
Celebrating Holi at Hola Mohalla
Celebrating Holi at Hola Mahalla
Celebrating Holi at Hola Mohalla
Photo by Karl Grobl, Three Festivals Tour
Photo by Karl Grobl, Three Festivals Tour. By the end of our two days of celebrating Holi that hat was totally smeared with bright colors.

For more photos by Karl Grobl, Photography Tour Leader for the Three Festivals tour, visit Karl’s blog. KarlGrobl.com

 

Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.

Comments

7 Comments
  1. posted by
    Margaret Idema
    Apr 24, 2017 Reply

    Thanks Susan for this informative explanation of the Holi Festival….when you travel, it IS hard to take in not only the sights but also the culture. Often when I get home from a trip, things become a blur right away which is sad. I remember more of what I SEE than of what I learn about a culture. Easy to do.

    • posted by
      Susan J. Smith
      Apr 24, 2017 Reply

      Thank you, Margaret for your comments.

      I agree, it is hard to take in the culture and the visual experience. We did have a local guide at each destination on the trip who was there to share the culture with us. Fortunately they were told that our first priority was taking photos.

      As for your comment about sometimes things become a blur. I think you are right and that’s why I really enjoy doing blog posts about my experience. It gives me a chance to think about it, do some research, edit photos and relive the experience. I love having that opportunity.

  2. posted by
    JoAnne
    Apr 24, 2017 Reply

    Wow, wow, wow! These are incredible shots. That top shot in particular should be on a wall somewhere. So much color and life and humanity!

    • posted by
      Susan J. Smith
      Apr 24, 2017 Reply

      Thank you, JoAnne, I really appreciate your comment. I shot that from the balcony of an Ashram where we spent the morning taking pictures. Will post more next week. You can see why photographers love Holi.

  3. posted by
    Marie Preston
    Apr 25, 2017 Reply

    What an exciting experience, on so many levels . . . a photographers paradise!
    You are an eye on worlds most Americans will never see! Thanks for sharing!

    • posted by
      Susan J. Smith
      Apr 25, 2017 Reply

      Thanks, Marie, I appreciate your nice comment. Yes, it was an exciting, interesting, exhausting and amazing experience. Visually so stimulating. Can’t wait to go again.

  4. posted by
    Kathy
    May 8, 2017 Reply

    Now I understand why you wanted to go back to India for a second visit!! You have wonderful pictures to share your once in a life time experience–celebrations that most of us will never be a part of. Thank you for sharing!

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