Last Thursday was Holi ("Ori"), the festival of colors. Holi is a big holiday in general, but especially for working/laboring class Indians. Family members in the city make a mandatory trip back to their villages to be with their relatives. And they remain there for 15 days to a month. Meanwhile all labor work comes to a halt in the cities and a lot of housewives are left feeling helpless.
Holi is known for the colored powder fights. People get together in any space and chase each other with green red blue yellow colored powder and smear each others' face, hair, and body with it. In India the latest evolution is using super soakers filled with colored water to blast people from afar. It's a good time.
This Holi, Nimo was at home observing a day of silence and meditation. I laid low at the house as well and sat with him here and there. The one trip I took outside was to visit our new flat. On the way back I was walking past the ashram and across the street bunch of friends/MS volunteers were playing holi in front of the volunteer house. I was watching from a safe distance, quietly snapping photos without anyone noticing. Just as I was about to continue walking on toward home I look down to check my phone and when I look up I see bunch of the friends running across the street toward me in sneak attack fashion. I had been spotted, and there was nowhere to run. It was fun getting powdered and playing with the friends.
Later I went home to clean up and Nimo was still meditating. When I got out of the bath I heard a knock on the door and it was the Holi gang with a big "Happy Holi!" They had come to see Anji who was stuck at home sick. Meanwhile Nimo gets up from meditation and wordlessly gesticulates for me to invite the crew in for lunch. Fortuitously they were all extremely hungry and we had leftovers from the day before when we hosted Wednesday meditation (for the first time!). So we sat everyone in our house and cooked up an impromptu lunch. With an emphasis on impromptu, since Nimo and I were not particularly prepared to feed a hungry pack of 12 people that afternoon. But everyone was very flexible and played a role, it was a wonderful opportunity to serve each other. The love in the air really made the day holy. I would go into more detail, but Mariette posted a lovely description of the day which captured the spirit beautifully:
After a morning of fun and carefree holi playing in Ahmedabad last Thursday, we wanted to share the spirit with Anjali who had been stuck at home sick. We came, all 12-15 of us, covered with the rainbow of vibrant colored powder we had been throwing onto each other all morning. After some generous snacks from Anjali, it was time for lunch. Instead of heading out to find a place to eat together, a lunch magically, serendipitously and effortlessly appeared across the hall, in the apartment of Nimesh and Neil: Neil heated the leftovers from the previous day's Wednesday meditation. Nimeshbhai made some more rice. I ran off to buy gathiya down the street. Others gathered the necessary plates, silverware and bowls. Neil offered granola bars while people waited. Within minutes and with the addition of peanuts and bananas, we found our plates suddenly piled high with an amazing collection of food prepared and gathered with love. The lunch was complete with the addition of a beautiful bouquet of orange flowers in the center of our circle, to complement the greens and blues on our faces and clothes. It was a beautiful act of collective service.