Saturday, March 27, 2010

the bastardization of Holi

For those of you not living in Utardia (or Asia I suppose), Holi is a Hindu holiday that is celebrated by thousands of Utah college students at the Hare Krishna temple in Spanish Fork.

(I foolishly have not taken a picture of the whole temple myself so I stole this lovely image from this person's flickr )

It's more commonly referred to as the festival of colors around here because you throw powdered, colored chalk at everyone while a band plays ethnic-ish music, and then a witch* is burned at the stake.
La foule, as the French say.

The real festival is a two week long ordeal in India and some other Asian countries that celebrates, among other things, brotherly love and the end of winter. Wikipedia "Holi" if you want to know more.
Anyway, I attended Holi three years ago and then again yesterday, and the difference between the two experiences astounded me.

1. I like lists. They allow me to put less effort into construction and transitions when I write, while also making the text more accessible.

2. The biggest difference: 3 years ago, holi was about losing yourself in the music, spirit, dancing, and the simultaneous sense of community and anonymity in the midst of a community of generally straight-laced mormons. This year, holi was about taking lots of pictures of yourself comically covered in brightly colored powder so that you can have a new facebook profile picture.
For the record, this is not (nor has it ever been) my profile picture. And leave it to me to frame the picture so that the headrest in front of me takes up half the shot.

3. The change in atmosphere. As people just arriving at the festival walked by our chalked-out group and saw me holding a half-full bag of chalk, at least 4 or 5 of them stopped, screeching "get me!" and holding out their arms. Um, excuse me? The point is to ambush people, not to oblige willing participants in their planned-out vanity. I did my best to keep things out of control though, by smearing chalk in their hair instead of on their outstretched arms, or by simply dumping the chalk in their faces, leaving them shrieking and coughing in alarm.

4. There was a jamba juice shack set up next to the temple. WTF is all I can say about that. There is nothing less rock and roll than jamba juice. Now holi has been bastardized AND commercialized.

*chosen from among the girls wearing sleeveless tops, shorts cut above the knee, or with multiple ear piercings

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