Thursday was the day we’d all been waiting for the entire week, it was the first of March, it was full moon and it was time for the color festival Holi. For those of you who don’t know what Holi is, it is basically a day when everyone is free from work and school and the whole town becomes a battlefield of color and water. You’re not safe anywhere, unless locked behind your hotel room! If you walk down the street there is a very high chance you’ll come back covered in color, you might have gotten hit by a bucket of water from the balconies as well. You don’t walk safe anywhere! It is a day of celebration, childlike adrenaline and fun!
The festival originates in a love story between the Hindu god Krishna who falls in love with a girl who doesn’t share his blue skin color so he paints everyone (including the girl) in colors. The roots of it are therefore found in love, furthermore each color has a different meaning. The water however, seems to be just for fun!
However, the occasional accidents do happen, more so in India then Nepal, as it can be dangerous for especially females to walk around on their own. With that said, it tends to be a good day if you stick together in a group, which we happily managed to do.
Malin and I woke up in Rita’s house (we’re staying with friends for the first two introduction weeks in Kathmandu), bouncing up like children on Christmas. We did our makeup of glitter and colors and then walked up to the kitchen to say hi before leaving for class. We were joyful to hear Nepali music playing as we made our way up the stairs, and giggles that were unmistakably the excitement of planning a surprise.
As we walked into the kitchen the females of the family greeted us with yellow, orange and red colors! Soon we were all colorful and our intentionally white clothes perfectly original. We danced and laughed until the very last minute before we had to walk to the hotel, so we wouldn’t miss out on the breakfast buffet before the only class of the day.
We had breakfast and got up to the conference room of hotel Buddy (we usually have classes at the campus, but today was a holiday).
However, let’s fast forward to the end of the class…
Our study leaders, Samrat and Elida, have two children. We heard their giggles outside of the door as our class was about to finish, and at the moment that our wonderful lecturer dismissed us, they stormed into the room to put colors on Samrat. They started a little “color war” between us (the students) and the teachers, the atmosphere reaching its peak.
We walked out to the streets in a group, but eventually got split up in 3 which worked out fine. It took maybe 10 minutes before we were all unrecognisable, and the streets of Thamel were covered in color, water and colored water. We all moved towards “Durban square” were an even greater street party was waiting with a massive stage and an eager DJ. We ran through skinny streets were men with big water guns were waiting filled with blue H2O. We laughed as we got hit by the buckets of water falling from the balconies, it was like being inside of a video-game or standing in the middle of a paintball field back home.
Midday, we reached Durban square, and danced until we got too hungry to stay, there were clouds of colors exploding over us as we exhaustedly retreated, more so people were surprisingly respectful to us. We all got reunited at “buddy hotel” for the daily treat of a Nepali buffet. After that the color fiesta kept on going!
The majority of the group headed for “Allobar 1000”, a hostel where you can meet travelers from literally all over the world. We spent the afternoon there, discussing, dancing, laughing, eating and around 7 pm we moved again. The spectacle ended at “Western tandoori”, a restaurant that has become number one for many of my fellow students. It is like a hole in the wall, very cozy, very local, and fantastic prices. We had to wait for a while to get a table this holiday.
Then we split up, Malin and I went home to shower and sleep, and some of our friends went out to keep celebrating half of the night as well. Danjebad Kathmandu! You are absolutely amazing.