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Holi Hijinks in Hampi, India

Holi Hijinks in Hampi, India

Add a fabulous dimension to your trip by planning it around a festival. So it was the last time I traveled to India (a birthday present from my beloved nephew Brian Healy). Our destination was Hampi, the vast ruin on the Deccan plateau that is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Brian arranged to visit during Holi, the ancient Hindu festival celebrating the triumph of good over evil. But that description fails to portray how much sheer fun it is....



What a blast! Before we set out, we had joked about Holi hijinks in Hampi. To celebrate, merrymakers throw colored powder on each other as they dance in the street. I wore a pair of old white drawstring pants and the white tunic bought for $1.70 at the Charminar market in Hyderabad, no good clothes ruined for me. We mistakenly purchased colored powder in little plastic bags, the clumpy kind instead of the finer powder sold in aluminum foil packets. Still, we had our ammunition.


It was a mob scene of hundreds of powder-throwing revelers, and lots of Westerners hoisting Indian children aloft on their shoulders. Our favorite character was a tall British woman with a scarf covering most of her face, who wasn’t having any of it.  Finally, she could no longer resist the Holi spirit and cracked, joining in the hilarity. A little scamp with pleading eyes implored me to give him some of my powder. I did, and he threw it in my face! LOL: Pranks are part and parcel of Holi.


The crowd was building to unmanageable levels, until the police finally thinned it out by blowing whistles from a balcony, where they also removed a number of fervent photographers. Once the balcony was cleared, the police snapped their own pictures.


Celebrants stopped us several times to pose for selfies. The funniest was a reveler wiping Brian’s face and planting purple powder on his front teeth, which he could not remove for love or money. After the police broke up the crowd, it reconfigured itself, and moved on to the temple where the music and dancing re-commenced in even louder and wilder form. We did a few more re-location stints  – then we took a tuk-tuk back to our lavish digs. In the hotel lobby, Brian posed with his arms akimbo baring his full frontal Holi powder-covered bod, while I posed with the tuk-tuk driver.


What a memory to retrace in more somber moments.