Holi in Pushkar

Pushkar, India. Yes, like those of you in the northern hemisphere, Indians are getting ready to shed their winter attire and celebrate spring. For those of us from the northern hemisphere, there aren’t any more layers to shed to feel comfortable in this climate, but, hey, it’s all relative.

We traveled by a long train ride from Udaipur to Ajmir, and were then driven to the little town of Pushkar.

Judging from the number of young Western backpackers, we are in the middle of tourist land, right at holiday time.

Holi is a Hindu spring festival, celebrated predominantly in India and Nepal, but which has also spread to other areas of Asia and parts of the Western world through the diaspora from the Indian subcontinent, also known as the “festival of colors” or the “festival of love”. And it seems Pushkar is the Woodstock or Coachella of places in which to celebrate it.

We are settling slowly into our “hotel de charme” – the Hotel Pushkar Palace – and have the usual limitations on internet speed that such places provide. It is supposedly a former palace, and does have the requisite amount of charm. Plus, it is smack in the middle of town, which is a wonderful asset, after we’ve spent the last week tucked away in the hills.

It has a view overlooking the main sacred lake that makes this one of the holiest spots in India. It was formed when Brahma, the Creator, threw petals down and created the lake. The city has over 400 temples and 52 bathing ghats, or sets of steps that lead down to the water to bathe.

Yesterday was actually Holi, and today is the paint festival. There is definitely a holiday spirit in town, which did not impede the mercantile spirit that is a major part of this town. The bazaar winds forever, giving lots of opportunities for tourist shopping and tourist gazing.

For those who strive to keep current on these things, we can report definitively on the hair styles of those multitudinous seemingly footloose young people who are meandering around the globe. So many of the westerners we saw – men and women – seem to favor the dread-lock look, perhaps because it demands so little in terms of maintenance or shampooing. I thought that went out of style on Caucasians about 25 years ago, but it seems to be back. And then off course there is that shave your-head-on-one-side look, always attractive, as well as the trendy man bun. Hair colors are not even worth mentioning. I wonder what the locals think of these bizarro and not very clean visitors from the other side of the world.

The action, the cows, and traffic and the aggressive selling up and down the streets were amazing and exhausting. Loads of paint being sold for tomorrow’s event, but that was just part of the activity. What a lot of color is in evidence here every day!

Last night the festivities were in full swing. Drums are relentlessly pounding around the city and a bonfire is being lit in the main square. Ladies brought in bushels of brush all day in preparation. Don was out braving the crowds and he is ready for today’s festivities, having already bought his “holi suit,” a very cheap tunic and slacks that will be disposed of once he is pounded with paint.

The internet seems to be on holi here too, so that may explain why this third attempt at describing Pushkar has been published. Best I can do under the circumstances, so sorry for any understandable confusion.


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