It’s time for the main event! Tomorrow is the largest Festival of Colors celebration in the Western Hemisphere (at the Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah). So it’s time to put on an old white t-shirt, pull out the color powders, and herald in spring with an exhilarating color extravaganza.
I used an excellent recipe I found on Dukes & Duchesses. Definitely check it out! The recipe was easy to follow, and the colors turned out so vibrant and vivid. You’ll definitely want to wear disposable gloves when mixing the colors because your hands will stain otherwise. Obviously put on a fresh pair of gloves for each color. I also recommend using disposable foil casserole dishes with deep sides to prevent spills. I let the colors dry for about 3-4 days before blending them. I then put the powders back in the dishes to dry out for another 3-4 days, stirring them daily, just to make sure they were completely dry before placing them in plastic bags.
There are a few stories explaining the history and significance of Holi, one of which involves the Hindu deity Krishna. As a baby, Krishna was poisoned by the she-demon Putana, which made his skin turn dark blue. Growing up, Krishna worried whether the fair-skinned Radha or the other girls would like him because of his skin. His mother told him to color Radha’s face any color he wanted to change her complexion. Krishna did, thereby starting the tradition of playfully throwing colored powders at others.
I recommend reinforcing a couple rules before you start.
- No throwing colors at or above anyone’s head unless someone specifically asks.
- No going back indoors until as much of the powder has been brushed/cleaned off and an adult has given you permission.
I placed a couple pans of soapy water and a roll of paper towels to the side for anyone who needed a quick clean-up. We only had one minor incident involving someone getting a mouthful of powder. Kids or those with breathing problems may need a bandana or mask and sunglasses. Make sure you brush off as much of the powder as possible before showering. The tricky part is making sure not to leave a trail of powder through the house. And for those wondering, the powder didn’t stain our white shower. Wahoo!
Gopi Hide and Seek
Gopi is the Sanskrit word for a female cow herder or milkmaid. In branches of Hinduism, a group of gopis was friends with Krishna. Hindu texts also say that in his youth, Krishna, was a playful trickster. This isn’t a traditional game by any means. It’s just something I came up with as a fun way to explain some of these concepts. It works best with a group of five or more people. One person is chosen as the gopi. The rest of the group is either cattle or the trickster. The cattle group secretly picks who will be the trickster. The gopi closes their eyes and counts to thirty while everyone else hides. The gopi then tries to find all of the “cattle” and return them to a predetermined area that’s the pen. The trickster can tag other players to release them from the pen. The gopi must return all the other players, including the trickter, to the pen in order to win.
Tin Can Drums
Singing and dancing go hand-in-hand with the Festival of Colors. Streets are often filled with the sound of drums during Holi. This craft uses simple supplies you probably already have on-hand. An adult should stretch the balloon over the can because getting it tight enough can be a bit tricky. Also, we don’t want the kids cutting themselves on the sharp edges of the can. My nephew, in particular, was a big fan of this craft.
Bell Pipe Cleaner Bracelets
The bright, jingley sound of bells is perfect for this playful festival. Attach them to a bracelet and you’ll be surrounded by a symphony of clanging. Out of all the crafts, this is the easiest and quickest. Simply braid together three pipe cleaners, threading bells through a single pipe cleaner along the way. Bend the bracelet around your wrist or ankle and twist the two end around each other.
Om Watercolor Splash
Om (ॐ) is a sacred sound and one of the most important spiritual symbols in Indian religions. The meaning of om can be very difficult to describe. Basically, it’s a sound that encompasses the truth, the whole world, the essence of life, etc. You’ll need watercolor paint, white cardstock, colorful cardstock, scissors, and a glue stick for this craft. Load up a paint brush with watercolor paint and splatter it on the white cardstock to create an explosion of color. This craft gives kids another chance to get messy and covered in colors. I recommend doing it outside on the grass with either smocks or old clothes. After their Pollock-worthy masterpieces have dried, glue on an om symbol cut out of colorful cardstock.
Dal is the Hindi word for peas, legumes, or beans. A mandala is a symbol used in different Indian religions to represent the universe. Traditionally, a mandala was a square with four gates surrounding a circle with a center point. Nowadays the word covers a wide array of designs and patterns. All you need for this craft is cardboard cut in the shape of your choice, glue, and an assortments of colorful beans, lentils, and split peas. Spread an assortment of legumes out on a table and let your imagination take over.
Street food, finger food, and sweet treats are popular during Holi. For lunch or dinner, try making potato and zucchini curry with some rice and warm naan. After your color fight, refuel with a creamy, refreshing mango lassi. There are tons of traditional, exotic recipes you can find on the internet. Or simply stock up on your favorite snacks and set up a buffet spread your guests can nibble on throughout the party.
Indian music is very nuanced and complicated, so I’m not even going to pretend to be an expert. I recommend using Pandora for background music during your color fight and other activities. Check out stations like Classical Indian or Ravi Shankar Radio. One site I found recommend the Rang Barse station. I also played some music from the Lagaan soundtrack which my nephew and niece enjoyed.