Color and Chaos
Documenting Holi in India became a goal of mine after seeing some of the colorful pictures of the festival in the Boston Globe several years ago. With the help of a local photographer/handler and a significant amount of research, I was finally ready to go in 2013 after several false starts in previous years.
I planned a two-week trip that allowed me to document Lathmar Holi in Barsana and Nandgaon as well as Huranga (Holi) in Dauji. I chose to photograph those specific events because they are steeped in religious traditions; full of elaborate and engaging rituals; and are away from large urban centers. I was able to see other parts of the country in between events however, the main focus of this project was to document Holi in India.
Once I arrived in Barsana, I quickly understood that nothing could have prepared me for Holi in rural India. Old buildings of all shapes, sizes and colors hugged the narrow winding streets and alleys and created a perfect maze. The city, bursting at its seams, was full of euphoric revelers applying/throwing powder on every friendly face within reach. Children roamed the streets armed with water guns or sat atop rooftops and laughed as they threw powder and sprayed colored water on unsuspecting bystanders. A mass of humanity roamed the city which took a physical toll on people as everyone had to constantly push, pull and fight for their space, their balance and their safety, all the while breathing-in incredible amounts of colorful powdered air.
No book, video, picture or conversation could ever adequately describe what Holi “felt” like in India. Every sense was engaged from the moment I arrived in Barsana and only began to wind down after I left Dauji.
Holi in India was more than I could have ever imagined and hoped for. I left India with thousands of pictures, incredible memories and an appreciation for the country and its people. I hope that these images will convey the colors and chaos that was Holi in India.