This delightful Hindu festival of colors originated in India as a way to celebrate love, forgiveness, and the triumph of good over evil, and I was blessed to get to see it firsthand 11 years ago in pre-communist Nepal.
A Little Backstory
Back in 2008, my dad was working for the oil company, Aramco, and my mom and I were living with him in an American compound in Saudi Arabia. Due to our proximity to many exotic locations and the extensive perks offered by Aramco, the middle schools developed a tradition of chaperoned trips for kids to choose from every Spring Break. I remember that I had wanted to go on the Italy/Switzerland trip that year, but I ended up “settling” for the Nepal trip (spoiled, much?) since my closest friends were going there. I had no idea I was going to love it so much!
Our group for the chaperoned trip to Nepal in 2008.
What Holi Was Like in Nepal
We arrived in Nepal just in time for the celebration of Holi, so it was a good thing we had a lot of walking planned for that first day. Even though it was glaringly obvious that we were a group of foreign tourists, the locals wholeheartedly shared their traditions with us, throwing water balloons at us from their apartment windows and even dousing a few of us with entire buckets of water. One of our guides explained that this was a great kindness, as the water was considered a form of blessing.
Water balloon fight/war at Nepalese apartments in celebration of Holi. (Don’t worry about the girl who looks hurt in the video; the balloon stung a little, but she was totally fine just seconds later!)
As we continued to walk the streets of Kathmandu, we saw people dancing and singing, and every once in a while, a young child would run up to our group to peg us with more water. We also encountered several people carrying brightly-colored powders, and if they held their hands out to us, it meant they wanted us to let them put some of this powder on our faces, another type of blessing. This quickly became my favorite part of Holi, and I got so excited every time I saw another powder-carrier, especially if they had a new color for me to wear.
Young me with a couple of the Nepalese locals who powdered my face in celebration of Holi.
By the end of the day, we were tie-dye-dripping messes, but we were happy and grateful to have been swept up in this wholesome tradition.
The transition of my appearance throughout Holi, from just a dash of color to a full-on wet rainbow.