It's amazing how quickly those pretty lumo colours turn to a sludgy orange. Like battle- torn Amazonian savages did we look, when on the way back from Holi One, South Africa's equivalent to India's Hindu Holi spring festival of colour, we decided to stop for Chinese - surely startling the lone cashier at the Buitenkant take-away.
Rewind back to pre-powder time when still pristine and purely white we arrived at the Grand Parade in Cape Town to a scene of hippy mayhem and all-round happy vibes. Those pearly whites did not last long as it seemed that any newcomer was quickly welcomed and initiated into the colourful fray via enthusiastic hugs or a packet of powder to the face.
Every hour the countdown began: "Three, two, one, HAPPY HOLI!" A choking cloud of vision-impairing multicoloured dust invaded every surface and orifice including our freshly purchased drinks. Perhaps not the wisest move to mosey into the dance area before imminent countdown with open plastic cups of vodka and lime. Never mind, we drank our now thick-and-starchy beverages down, green teeth and all.
Oh, how that multi-hued cornflour instantly brought out the kid inside us all. Yellow, orange, pink, green and blue - so many pretty colours to choose from; impossible not to get caught up in the sheer liberating and uniting act of wilful and unabandoned messiness. Not even the security guards escaped the all-encompassing cloud of colour and feel-good vibe it instilled wherever it settled. I saw many a colour-splattered official grooving along to the beats.
And what of the beats? There is no denial the fest is about the COLOUR, but the music added a welcome backtrack to the artistic mayhem. Arriving in time for Ma' Original's bouncy sound, another level of party-starting emotive creativeness was instilled by the tunes. International headliner DJ Super Flu's set pretty much flew by unnoticed by me, nothing really making it's auditory presence too known, but perhaps my brain was too addled by the saturated visuals and my ears too muffled by pink powder at that time.
Prince of Balkan beats Toby2Shoes was an inspired addition to the line-up and slotted into the ethos and vibe of the event seamlessly. While electro swing pop power trio Goodluck owned the Holi altar, commanding attention and movement with their radio hits.
Alas, following artists Mix n Blend and Niskerone were missed as party feet were a wearing and everything was turning that sludgy orange.
As I washed the powder from myself later that night (a process indeed) I mused on the meaning behind fests like this. As fun and happy as they are, their spiritual roots have been somewhat severed from the original seed, where prayer and devotion was the main emphasis. Are other cultures now shamefully appropriating this festival by turning it into a moneymaking racket and an excuse for a drunken, messy revelry? Or can this be a form of spiritual connection for today's consumer generation? There is no denying that there were many loving connections formed that day. As my fortune cookie foretold that night: "Your mind can make your body rich," so I guess it's all about what you decide to take from events like this. At the risk of sounding too preachy and kumbaya, choose to connect to your inner child, choose to hug a stranger, choose to sneeze rainbows. Too true fortune cookie, too true.
Joburg's instalment takes place on 6 April at Emmarentia Dam.
General Admission: R190 from Webtickets: www.webtickets.co.za General Admission including powder (five colours): R290 from Webtickets: www.webtickets.co.za Powder and paraphernalia will also be sold separately at the event. This event for 18s and over.
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