This article was originally published in The Smithsonian Journeys Quarterly in spring 2016. It looked amazing in its original print edition – incredible photos. But it’s nice to find it online just now.
If you land in India anytime in late February or March, it’s wise to check the dates of the annual Holi festival, and bring a spare set of clothes. That’s because for a few days in spring, people crowd the streets and splash brilliantly colored dyes on anyone walking by. It’s hard to avoid the fun—and paint—unless you stay inside or look menacing enough to discourage the custom.
“Watch out, madam!” said my taxi driver in Amritsar as we drove through a melee of young people pelting each other with powder.
“The colors never come out of your clothes,” he said. “And you might be having purple hair for many days. It is a complete liability.”
I did a…
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