Over the weekend, complete strangers walked up to me, ruffled my hair, and wiped their hands on my face and neck.
I know. It sounds weird, and it actually kind of was at first. But that’s what happens at the Festival of Colors USA, which celebrates Holi, an Indian festival that announces that spring has come and winter has passed.
Bhoomin from A Wanderlust Foodie in India, further explained that in his country, the festival is widely celebrated. Families, friends, and colleagues gather together and apply colors on each other, called “gulal” in Hindi. Among adults, celebrations are typically less intense, according to Bhoomin. But among younger groups, people actually climb on each other to put on colors and use hoses to spray water on each other. The colors can mix with the water in the ground, which can become muddy. Sometimes, mud = mud fights and people are pushed down to the mud and colors are re-applied.
EDM has become popular where Bhoomin lives, and during the festival, he said this type of music was heard from multiple neighborhoods.
(Photos below are courtesy of Bhoomin 🙂 )
For the festival in my backyard, my cousin introduced it to me the night before it took place. I agreed to check it out because it looked similar to a color run :P.
In Los Angeles, this year was the third annual Festival of Colors and was held in Norwalk in LA County.
We arrived about halfway through the celebration and were greeted at the gate with a random stranger who rubbed his yellow powder-filled hand on our heads, marking our first dose of color. The festival consisted mostly of music, people dancing, and some yoga (which occurred at the same time people were performing, but was several feet away from the stage. I actually don’t know how people could engage in yoga with loud music playing not too far away :/ ).
I highly recommend this event to those who live within driving distance of Norwalk, who have not yet experienced this kind of festival, and who may just so happen to be in the area when the next festival comes around. It’s a ton of fun!
If you do decide to go, here are a few things I noted that will hopefully come in handy:
- The entrance fee is $5. (Not bad for the experience!)
- Depending on how long you plan on staying, about $20 to $40 is a good amount of money to bring.
- Also depending on how long you plan on staying, bring a mat/chairs/something to sit on.
- Color packets are $3 each, but if you’re on a budget, you don’t need to buy any. (See photos below for the colors my cousins and I got without buying anything!) With the amount of people that attend the event, you’ll get colors for free. If you stay for the entire festival, it is highly unlikely you will need to buy color packets, unless you really, really want to do your own colors. If that’s the case, splurge away on those bags of color!
- Wear white. Some people didn’t, and that’s fine, but I recommend it because it’s much easier to see the colors that way.
- Bring goggles/something to protect your eyes. Getting colors in the eyes is no fun!
This is a rare situation in which it is socially acceptable to wipe hands across strangers’ faces, necks, etc., and lightly slap strangers’ backs and/or stomachs with powder-covered hands. It might be weird, but everyone does it, so be prepared. Especially if you’re mostly white and clean. People will target you, lol.
- I’m almost sure I inhaled so much colored powder at the festival that my lungs looked like a rainbow at the end of the day. If your respiratory system is easily irritated, consider bringing (wet) cloth to breathe through, and/or move away from the crowd during the color throws, which are announced on stage.
- Prepare for post-celebration by bringing extra clothes, paper towels, real towels, large enough sheets of plastic to protect your car, etc. (We didn’t do this and ended up sitting on tote bags, magazines, car sun shades, and basically whatever we could find in the car. It helped, but the car still has colored powder stuck to the seats :/ ) Check out this Color Run cleaning tips sheet for useful advice.