Phagwa: The Festival of Colors
Pure joy was in the air, you could feel it all around you as soon as we approached the Hindu Temple. Uncle Charlie quite literally met us with open arms, diving in for hugs all around as he introduced himself and welcomed us into his community. His clothes were stained purple, his face dusted in a white powder, his hair showing off streaks of pink.
It was the festival of colors; The festival of love; Phagwa; or what the West more commonly knows it as, Holi. It’s the Hindu festival of spring where people of all ages come out to play in an afternoon of throwing colors and water at each other. The children particularly enjoyed their day of freedom, where they could spray adults with water, chasing them and dumping colorful powder all over their hair and bodies without getting in trouble.
People young and old frolic on the streets, outside temples and buildings, eager to leave the festival with as many colors adorning them as possible. The atmosphere is light and playful, there’s not a frown to be seen. In fact, the dirtier you get the happier you become until laughter is bubbling out of you.
As foreigners, we were met with delight from everyone participating. Eager to show us the beauty of the festival, we were given second and third helpings of delicious Indian food, best ate with your fingers. People came up behind us and streaked our faces with hues of purples, blues, golds and pinks. Children chased us round and round, bursting with laughter as they sprayed us with colored water.
We danced, we ate, and we sang. We watched performances by children in the community. We got fistfuls of blue powder in our mouths that stained our teeth. All in the name of spring, of new beginnings and of celebrating the triumph of good over evil.
The more colorful the crowd, the more blessed they are. It was the warmest welcoming I’ve received in Barbados so far and a day so filled with love, joy and beauty that I’ll never forget it.