The countdown got louder and louder by the second.
Three... Two... One! HOLI HAI!
It is holi, and over two thousand excited voices screamed, as a colourful cloud of rice powder or gulal filled the late afternoon air. The scene was quite a sight to behold in a country where the world-famous Indian festival of colours is just gaining popularity.
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Last Sunday, I got the chance to take part in the Philippines' third official holi festival, organised by Asia Society, as a documentation volunteer.
|All geared up|
It has always been my dream to take photos of the holi festival, and since I don't think I'll be flying to India anytime soon (no matter how much I want to), I thought why not take pictures of the celebration in Manila?
I originally planned to attend the event as a participant, but when I got in touch with the head organiser and she asked me if I'd be interested in volunteering for the festival, I didn't think twice and said yes.
My main task was to record videos during the event, but I took the liberty of snapping some photos whenever I got the chance to...
|An adorable girl smiles as she assumes a yoga pose|
|Children filling rangoli patterns with colored sand.|
(In India, they use rice powder - and not sand - to make rangoli.)
|The gorgeous Manila Bay sunset|
Needless to say, it was an incredibly fun afternoon. Everyone was in the mood to celebrate. Bollywood music blared from the speakers, and everybody was on their feet dancing, hands thrown up in the air.
It made me wonder, if people celebrate holi this grand and this colourful in Manila, what more in India? That thought made me want to book a ticket to my long-time dream destination even more.
Knowing that we, uber-stressed university students, deserve a break every now and then from school, I invited some classmates and friends, who'd be interested to get "painted". Three members from our college paper came to cover the event and have fun, as well as two classmates of mine, with whom I fangirl over about Bollywood.
We danced (on the stage - no less!) to "London Thumakda" (a song from the soundtrack of the critically-acclaimed 2014 Bollywood film "Queen"), posed for pictures at the photo booth, lined up to get henna tattoos done (okay, except for me, because I knew I'd just smudge the design while shooting videos), painted each other, laughed at how silly we looked, gorged on some yummy Indian food, and danced some more until early evening.
I couldn't remember the last time I had so much fun with college friends. Thesis and a ton of papers to write kept us from enjoying ourselves for so long that we already needed to be reminded about what "happiness" meant. And as it turned out, Holi Manila was all that we needed.
|Inked! (Well, kinda.)|
|Manila thumakda :)|
Holi Manila 2015 sure is a memory for keeps!
Check out the post-event blog entry of Asia Society Philippines right here: http://asiasociety.org/philippines/holi-celebration-colors-and-culture
***Holi is a festival from India also known as the "festival of colours". It is celebrated on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna (which often falls on March) to welcome the season of spring. During holi, people throw colored rice powder or "gulal" at each other and up in the air to depict the colours of spring. Holi is also a time to celebrate unity.
Wishing you all a happy and colourful Holi :)