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Holy Holi

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Ryan celebrating Holi with a group of young Mumbaikers

Long-term travel means you’re bound to find yourself visiting places in what me be less than the ideal time. It may mean fighting mobs of people during peak tourist season or facing a sweltering summer heat. In other places, you might get darn lucky.

That was just the case for us on our first stop in India on our stay in the city of Mumbai (formerly Bombay). First, a little background on the city.

Mumbai is India’s largest city with around 60 million inhabitants: 20 million people and 40 million stray dogs, cows and rats. With over two hundred languages spoken here, you feel as if you are in the center of the world. The city is actually situated on an island overlooking the Arabian Sea and connected to the mainland by a series of bridges. It’s home to beautiful, crumbling architecture from the days of British Raj, and the frenetic cadence that makes the heart of India’s cities beat.

It was also on our taxi ride from the airport that we discovered just how lucky we were to have arrived on this day. It was March 1 and for the people of India, it was the day of one of the liveliest Hindu festivals. It was the day of Holi, the Festival of Colors.

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Decked in colors after a day of celebration


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Boy draws Happy Holi on the street

Magic was in the air. As we drove through the slums in route to the city we saw a scene like no other. Everyone was covered in a spectacular array of bright colors. Men with pink hair, women with yellow splashes on their faces and children drowning in blues, reds, greens and purples. On every corner, small stalls sold the vibrant colored gulal powder for a few rupees to be thrown at anyone in range. It was a riot of color as people splashed and sprayed one another in this celebration of the arrival of spring.

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Gulal powder stand in Mumbai

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Colors of the Holi Festival

There was not a sidewalk, a road or even a cow left untouched. Absolutely everyone was covered in color. By the time we arrived, most of the color throwing had finished up, but glimpses of the Mumbaikers decked out in all their colorful glory amidst jovial shouts of “Happy Holi” and exhubrant dancing in the streets, was quite special.

Looking back, I can’t think of a more proper introduction to our Indian adventure.

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Comments (3)

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  1. roundwego says:

    We sure did enjoy Mumbai. Certainly was quite a shocker and takes some adjusting, but turned out to be the best place to begin our Indian journey. Nothing like walking through the bazaars at rush hour just outside of Victoria Terminus!

  2. Erin says:

    What a great place to be for Holi! We love Mumbai (after we got over the shock!) – such a vibrant city with wonderful food.

  3. Shannon OD says:

    Did you let them “play holi” on you?! That’s one of my favorite memories of India :-) Definitely a fantastic introduction to the country and a fun way to enjoy Mumbai :-)
    .-= Shannon OD´s last blog ..A Little Wander…Tikal Wildlife and Ruins =-.