I have waited my whole life to go to the Festival of Colors. This is no exaggeration at all (provided “my whole life” only applies to my college career). Despite the amounts of colored chalk I inhaled and the stains on my shirt and teeth, it absolutely lived up to my expectations.
My friends and I suited up in our whites and headed up to Salem determined to come back colorful.
We parked as close as we could [which still left us with a ten minute walk] and excitedly followed the masses toward the Krishna Temple. As we got closer we passed people leaving the festival who generously threw their leftover chalk at us. The first handful was a very big deal and the excitement of it never diminished.
Each handful of chalk was a novelty and it quickly turned into a competition to see who could get the most color from the most people. Naturally this lead us to run and fight and shove each other, sometimes in front of the near-standstill traffic.
We also quickly learned what chalk tastes like [gross] and what it feels like when it’s thrown into your open eyes [painful].
We finally reached the temple and realized that we hadn’t brought admission money. So we trekked back to the truck to fish quarters out of a bag, and returned once more with blistered feet and another layer of strangers’ chalk.
Needless to say we were pretty well covered by the time we got there.
In all honesty, the actual event wasn’t anything thrilling. A good half hour of perusing the temple grounds and barreling through clouds of colored dust was sufficient. We stayed long enough to get adequately covered in chalk, take thousands of pictures, and witness a throwing—someone with a microphone counts down from ten and everyone excitedly cheers and releases handfuls of chalk.
It looks magnificent for a second before the colors turn into a massive brown cloud and you can’t see/breathe for a solid minute.
But it’s really all fine. You’d never think you’d be so happy to be encompassed in a spontaneous hurricane.
We were giddy and completely okay with strangers throwing chalk in our faces.
Somewhere, somehow this is some sort of a religious ritual. I thought about learning about it before going, but deemed it unnecessary as the majority of attendees aren’t actually Krishna worshippers themselves. I joined the throngs of college students in shouting “Hare Krishna!” which may actually turn out to be swear words in some other language.
We left colorful, happy, and certainly more cultured. [Kidding about the cultured part…obviously…]
We were delirious and slightly hyper which meant that we shouted things at pedestrians from our car as we sped away to Wal-Mart where we skipped around getting Cadbury eggs and some strange looks.
Not only did I get my beloved color festival pictures, but we saw a sunset and a llama.
All in all I’d say the day was a success.
[Title from Rainbow Veins by Owl City]