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
I know this struggle as well..” The practical supersedes the ideal and philosophical and cultural. ” hard sometimes. I love this post. I watched it on the news last night and it is a feast to the eyes. Beautiful. Follow your heart….xo
Perhaps some day you will get to experience this festival in person. Looks beautiful!
I’ve been fascinated by Holi since hearing a piece about it on NPR last year so I’m very interested to read about it in the context of this in-betweeness that you describe. This topic feels like a rich vein for you. I look forward to reading as you explore it more. xo
I can’t help but reflect on the reality of the pace and pulls that we all manage in this culture. There’s never enough “self” to go around. There’s never enough time to pursue everything we feel we should, much less what we desire pursuing out of interest or intrigue or even a sense of honoring our heritage.
I know I am woefully ignorant of my own religious background, and the multiple cultures that are spanned beyond what may be deemed as religious.
I understand this longing to go deeper and know more, and the many conflicting demands on our time that make anything much beyond the daily tasks difficult to get to.
Like Kristen, I look forward to you exploring this territory.