Happy Holi! Celebrating the Festival of Colors in Goa

If you were in India today, chances are that you would now be sporting rainbow hues from head to toe, for today is Holi, the Festival of Colors. Holi is a Hindu celebration that welcomes spring and its abundant colors and bids farewell to winter. Originally, Holi commemorated successful harvests.

As we prepared to take on the endless supply of vibrant tossed powders and sprayed colored waters this morning, we watched the playful mayhem on the street below our Panjim, Goa guesthouse. Like toy soldiers, children held ground with fluorescent plastic squirt guns and water balloons, awaiting vehicles and motorists at which they could toss their jewel-toned water and powder.

Open-topped trucks drove by, blasting festive Indian music with a Caribbean feel as teenagers and adults on-board cheered. Poof. A purple stream of powder flew onto the passing revelers painting them in an instant. The children were euphoric at this victory.

When we finally took to the street, armed with a plastic bag to shelter our cameras, we encountered a jubilant pack of merrymakers. Noticing our squeaky-clean clothing, the group parted, allowing us to pass untouched. We asked them to slather on some colored goodness. They obliged – swirling orange, red and yellow powders onto our faces. Despite the fact that they were gentle on us, we now felt like part of the club.

As we walked to a Punjabi restaurant for lunch, we saw revelers of all ages with hair that resembled powdered wigs. Locals shouted “Happy Holi.” Siesta-takers watched a cricket match, while a coffee-house employee channel surfed, briefly stopping at a Holi-themed Indian soap opera; the Bollywood-esque actor’s face was smothered with fuchsia war paint that was perfectly coordinated with his tunic. We wondered how some of the local diners had made it to the restaurant unscathed.

With the hot sun overhead we decided to stroll back to our charming home away from home, Alfonso’s Guesthouse. As statewide elections had just taken place days earlier, we were told that Holi’s tossing of the colors ended earlier this year (as officials were still busy tallying the votes). On our walk home, the streets were noticeably quiet. The scattered splotches of color on streets and sidewalks were the only evidence of the mischief that ensued just hours before.

Where in the World?

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

 

Photo Du Jour: A Quasi Cupid & Flowers for Buddha

It’s not your traditional Valentine’s Day imagery, yet these captures from our recent visit to Buddha Park – just outside of Vientiane, Laos – seemed so Cupid Day’esque.

Wishing you a splendid Valentine’s Day!

Where in the World?

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell . All Rights Reserved.

A Return to Angkor: The Tree-Adorned Temple of Ta Prohm

Regarded as one of Angkor’s most atmospheric temples, Ta Prohm is perhaps best known as the location in which the movie Tomb Raider was filmed (admittedly, I have not seen it).

The circa 12th century temple’s gnarly, towering trees are at times indistinguishable from the stone walls, pillars, and foundations that they are devouring.

And the setting is mysterious.

If you have ever pondered what would happen to man’s structures if left tended only by Mother Nature for several centuries, Ta Prohm illustrates the answer well.

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An Afternoon at Angkor Wat

During my maiden (and solo) visit to Angkor Wat, I glimpsed the majestic Cambodian structure at sunrise. Seeing the inky sky gradually awaken over the site and then illuminate it with a shrimp-colored hue was a magical experience. But in the years since, I’d read that the sunrise experience had lost some of its luster, due to massive crowds.

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The Devatas and Apsaras of Angkor Wat in Black & White

The 1,796 female figures rendered in sandstone on Angkor Wat’s pillars and walls have weathered war, and a harsh tropical environment for more than 800 years. I was first struck by the beauty and individuality of these devatas in 2009, during my first visit to Angkor Wat, which is the largest religious building in the world. During a subsequent visit to Cambodia last month, I was just as intrigued.

How many artisans did it take to carve these bas-relief figures? Are they modeled after real women of centuries past? If they could speak, what stories would they tell?

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Photo du Jour: Balinese Canang Sari Offerings to the Gods

On the island of Bali, religion is tightly intertwined with everyday life. Temples and religious celebrations are plentiful. Locals adorn their places of work, home entrances and street intersections with offerings or canang sari.

These banana leaf vessels are made on a daily basis and hold a large variety of items — everything from colorful flower petals and saffron-colored rice, to crackers, cigarettes and coffee. They are set out with burning incense sticks and sprinkled with holy water several times per day.

We heard that the Balinese spend between 25-50% of their precious income on such offerings.

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