Holi Festival in the Hill Country

Big K and I rolling through the twists and curves of the Texas Hill Country. The sky was grey, cloud shapes and depth marked by the dark bulges of precipitation. A soft pitter-patter that made me put on my wipers on the lowest setting. Turned off the road to the Radha Madhav Dham Hindu.

Walking up to the main area, a rumble in our bellies, we went straight for the food lines. We got our tickets and and went straight towards food. We circled the aromatic comestibles like hungry wolves circling a flock of sheep. Drooling, long tongues hanging out, eyes wide. We got kebab, Dhosas, Pakoras, and Chai or Mango Lassi to drink.

Walking around, there was multi-colored powder on the tiled floor near parking lot. We thought we missed part the Holi festival. A vendor said we didn’t miss anything, and to wait for the people praying inside of the temple to file out. We hung back and a family appeared to our right and smeared some powder our faces and atop our heads.

We make our way to the outdoor stage area and the procession began. A band started playing. Tambourines shaking, drums rolling, brass horns of various sizes buzzing and honking. A crowd formed to the left. A few people handed out or threw what must have been hundreds of bags of multicolor powder. Once everyone had several bags, everyone waited for the cue. The cue came, and everyone seemed to burst into powder. Clouds of red, orange, yellow, blue, green and purple exploding, the powder suspended in air. Colorful lack of visibility. I imagined that the air on Jupiter must look like that. The powder got everywhere. In my ears, eyes, hair, and in my mouth because I was laughing. It was bitter and tasted horrid. The band played feverishly, holding a high tempo for long periods of time. At intervals the whole crowd would shout something that sounded like “Holi hands!!!” We danced and threw powder and shouted for what seemed like hours. I took a few photos with an Olympus film camera I bought for $5 at Goodwill. Some Indian gentlemen started a congo line. I felt elated and was reminded of being back in India, a country I came to love. There were circles of people dancing Bollywood-style. Then the bags of powder started running out.

Exhausted, both of us a mess. Creatures baked under a multicolored crust. I lined my car with old clothes I had in my trunk so we wouldn’t color the upholstery. And we drove off, exhausted into the drizzling day.

I had never attended Holi. I know the University of Austin holds one. But I especially liked this one, out in the beautiful Hill Country, and at a very beautiful temple. There were many people of all ages and it was very welcoming, the food was bomb, and it was a great time. I highly recommend it if you are around Austin in the late winter.

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