Holi Purnima – watch out!

In two days we will experience our first Holi festival in Nepal and we are holding our breaths with “mixed” anticipation.

Holi Purnima is one of the most exciting festivals of Nepal and is closely related to the water festivals of Thailand and Myanmar and takes place on the full-moon day in the month of Falgun. As it is late in the dry season, water is sprayed around during the festival which symbolically reminds people of the cooling monsoon season to come. The ever-so popular Festival of Colours (images) occurs during this time as well, where you will see coloured powder (particularly red) and water being dispensed from buildings and around public areas.

The catch

It is mentioned by various colleagues that foreigners and women often get special attention during this time. I am saying this with some unenthusiastic bitterness as “water bombing” (the dispensing of water) by the neighbourhood children has somehow started a week early (and sometimes happening for new reason at all). Tlell and I and most of our friends have been hit by water bombs and for the most part it hasn’t been pleasant.

Okay, I’ve tried to mentally look at the brighter side and thought to myself “oh alright, they are just kids and having fun”. But after enduring days of narrow misses and always having to look up and watch for sharp shooters, it does get mentally draining and frustrating causing me to prefer to just stay at home (sometimes I have to restrain myself from wringing their necks).

I am definitely not alone in this. Some of my Nepali colleagues agree that the Holi celebrations have gone too far and I have heard that some of the elder Nepali’s say that things have changed and it never used to be like this. Will the joyous festival that I have seen and read about in Nepali travel books and tourism ads materialise? We shall soon see.

To be fair, I can imagine that in many places the Holi Festival of Colours is celebrated with the intent of being a mutually fun and positive celebration for everyone. Reflecting back on Tlell’s post about Shiva Ratri, there were many times where I enjoyed giving rupees to children who really got into the spirit of the holiday, with pujas and decorations around their rope blockades, rather than giving to the little obnoxious ones who just want to make money.

I am looking out my window now, at every single roof top and balcony, watching legions of neighbourhood kids fill up their water balloons and pouches, waiting for people to unknowingly walk within their target zone. It’s only Sunday and Holi is on Tuesday.

Hmmm…I think I am going to buy some water pouches of my own and play along.

I am still looking forward to experiencing the festival, we’ll be sure to wear old clothing.


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