I'd been meaning to go to a Holi celebration for years now. It's the Hindu festival of colours, celebrating the beginning of spring, where people dance, laugh, have fun and, most recognisably, throw coloured powder at each other. As luck would have it, there's a big celebration in Barcelona every year. We donned our white t-shirts and prepared to get messy.

Had you walked through central Barcelona on Sunday morning, you would have seen two types of people: lycra-clad sportspeople preparing for a fun run, or people dressed in white getting ready for Holi. The first option didn't seem quite so fun (why is it called a fun run? It sounds bloody awful if you ask me), so we were quite glad to be part of the second group.

The green metro line was packed out - we stood like sardines in the carriage, singing Livin on a Prayer under our breath... There was nothing to even hold onto, I had to rely on my (poor) sense of balance, much to the chagrin of the poor lady being me that I kept squashing into.

I'm used to a very British security system at the gates: bags checked, no food allowed, sometimes even a long and controlled queue. Okay, what am I saying? Always a long and controlled queue! If there's one thing Brits know how to do, it's queues. Oh and pies. But this? Very Spanish. No queue, no security... Just wandering in at your own leisure. Quite refreshing, even if ever so slightly disconcerting.

We bought some Gulal (the coloured powder), a few beers, and after a ridiculously long queue for the toilet (I'm sorry, but who thinks two portaloos is a good idea at a festival attended by a couple thousand people??) we got dancing. What I really loved is how total strangers would throw the powder at you, or pat it all over your face - no embarrassment or reservation whatsoever, just a really fun and playful atmosphere. Every so often they would do a countdown, where everyone threw the Gulal into the air at the same time. It became a huge fog of colour, and you'd be covered with yet another layer of grime. Green, pink and yellow soon became purple and blue soon became grey and brown...

We got quite a few stares on the way home. Mostly because we looked like hideous cakey monsters. It took three shampooings and a lot of scrubbing to get all the dirt out... And each time I was about to step out of the shower, I found another part of me that was still painted (back, elbow, armpit, neck - in that order). I've come to terms with the fact that my lovely white tank top will never be white again... I've lost a shirt but gained a pyjama top, I suppose! I really did have a fantastic time - beautiful weather, great atmosphere, and the longest shower in all of human history - even if I am still cleaning powder from the inside of my ears (this morning I found some purple...)

One Comment

  1. That looks like it was so much fun! (Also your photos are fabulous - everyone looks so happy and dusty and colourful!)


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