A splash of colored powdered sand leaks out from the plastic bag. The blue, green, yellow, and pink color spill over. These vibrant speckles are waiting for a place to land, on someone’s face, hand, or on a white kurta worn by a young girl. Today, in small villages and large cities in India, people are racing toward one another, laughing and twirling, drenched in color. The Hindu festival of Holi, a welcome of spring, glimmers and flashes, carrying a message of hope.
I’ve never experienced a traditional Indian Holi. I witnessed my first festival of colors by watching a Bollywood movie named, Silsila. The actors enacted the scene so well the glee of the vignette still endures. The only other opportunity I learned about this festive holiday is through my parents. My mom and dad expressed how much fun they had during Holi, spraying color on each other as well as all of their family and friends.
This is the constant conundrum of the in-between. Trying to balance and sink into my heritage is always in the shadows. The cultural experience almost becomes a myth. How much am I sacrificing by not actively pursuing my Indian roots? The practical supersedes the ideal and philosophical and cultural. I am in this pool because of the choices I make. My parents always treasured their Indian threads and attempted to infuse whatever they could to teach me that our heritage was more than a brief flicker on the travel channel.
There is a certain romantic quality to Holi. Sneaky little boys and girls slapping their parents with colors, young newlyweds flirting amongst all of the revelry, and the elderly feeling a little more alive witnessing the nostalgia of their youth. That is only the superficial layer. Holi carries a religious undertow that I realized as I prepared for this post. Knowing this truth, I felt a sucker punch in my gut. It confirmed how much I failed to excavate on my own about where I come from.
A convenient place to fall is to swim in making excuses as to why I am so culturally ignorant, but really, I possess ample resources to dig through my architectural landscape.
The array of colors crystallize to black and white.
Image via Flickr Creative Commons by I*R*O*M*I~’s