On my recent, and first ever, trip to India I had the amazing opportunity to celebrate Holi (Festival of Colours) in Calcutta. Attending Holi Festival is something that has always been a dream of mine and was most definitely a top priority item on my never-ending bucket list!!
I guess when I dreamed up my idea of celebrating Holi, it would be on the streets of some big Indian city, surrounded my 1,000’s of strangers, who would all be throwing colour up in the air, shouting and singing and celebrating. My actual experience was quite different. As we were visiting The Hope Foundation’s projects, we were told we would be celebrating Holi in one of HOPE’s protection homes for young girls who have been rescued from the streets. This made the day SO much more special than being in the street with strangers. The girls were so sweet, and as we had spent a few hours playing and dancing with them a few days earlier, the ice had been broken and we were already the best of friends!
At first Pushba, the house-mother in charge of all the girls and their carers, warned them to treat us foreigners ‘delicately’ and not to cover us too much in the dye. We immediately protested this and said “Do what you want! Let them destroy us if they wish…This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for all of us.” When the house-mother translated this to the kids, that they would have a free rein on the dye, they all cheered loudly, their eyes sparkling with excitement.
We were all brought outside the main entrance to the home, music was turned on, trays of coloured dye were distributed, and soon the colourful madness and cries of “HAPPY HOLI” were to be heard up and down the street. All the kids were given water pistols, big buckets of water and ample supply of multi coloured dye, which they proceeded to cover us in, much to our delight and the delight of many onlookers!!
I hope these photos I took do the day justice and really convey the happiness exuded my all; the joy, the delight, the smiles, the laughter and the amazing friendships bound together by this great Hindu Festival of Colour, welcoming Spring and bidding farewell to Summer!