I dared getting out of my comfort zone, and took off, together with a fellow-photographer and 2 other ladies, to India, to shoot festivals. It was indeed quite daring, those who know or have heard of the festival are too aware of its risks and dangers. It takes place in different temples, in the streets and on squares, where people celebrate while throwing paint at each other. Yes, you read well!
There are different types of Holi, there is dry holi (dry powdered paint) and wet Holi (paint in water), there is soft Holi (where you can avoid getting too coloured) or hard Holi (where kids throw buckets of paint at you and there is no way to escape). Sometimes they ask permission, sometimes they don’t. Or you have all these things together…
Sounds like fun? Doesn’t it?
It is, actually! But only if you are well prepared!
- Wearing only clothes that you either want to treasure as a souvenir (‘Look, I’ve played Holi!!’) or that you don’t mind throwing away later, because yes, it will be ruined!
- Cover your body (even parts under your clothes, it’s sticky and messy stuff) with coconut oil. (This is actually a day-after-tip by a local, it was too late for me and I was slightly coloured for the next couple or days, even weeks)
- wrap up your camera (even your phone!) in a plastic bag or in whatever waterproof cover you can find.
- Take brushes and scrubs and creams, whatever you think you might need to clean of sticky dirty stuff, in your suitcase. Extra plastic and covers for your camera because it gets so dirty that you can not see through it anymore so you can’t use it the 2nd day.
With all this in mind nothing can go wrong, right?
Well there I was, well prepared, or so I thought. The walk towards the temple already got us in the mood. Painted people walked in the streets, people smiled and laughed at us because (well, at least that ‘s what we thought it was) we were all clean. The crowd got bigger, and bigger, the noise got louder, and all of a sudden, there we were, at the entrance of the open square in the temple. I couldn’t be more ready! The moment I had been waiting for for months!
But just after the first step, half a dozen people came towards me with paint, putting it on my head, throwing it on my clothes and gently rubbing it in my face. But what startled me far more then the painters, I was kind of expecting those, were the other 6 people, all photographers with huge cameras wrapped up in plastic, taking pictures of me and shooting me! That has definitely never happened to me before, after all, I am the photographer, right? I am supposed to be at the other side!
I needed 3 seconds to recover. Maybe 10, I don’t really know. Just enough to get a full load of paint into the plastic cover of my camera, and paint all over me. I probably even had my mouth open, I am not sure. I wouldn’t know.
But what the heck! These cameras of today are all weather sealed and are suppose to weather a few storms, right? This wasn’t much different then a storm, was it?
After the first few seconds I totally got the hang of it, a few rounds over the inner square and I knew what to shoot. And at the same time to enjoy the unusual spectacle of dancing, throwing paint, and lots and lots of laughing and happy people!
Playing Holi in Mathura, you only know what its like when you ‘ve lived it.
Klik on the video below to see s short overview!
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