My most memorable Holi experience was when I was interning in Switzerland 3 years ago.
Holi is one of the most popular festivals in India. But few people know that Holi is very popular in Europe as well. There are many organizations that conduct the festival in different locations all over the year. I had the chance to attend one such event in the lively city of Lausanne, Switzerland during my internship there.
Interestingly, I was told about this event by an Australian friend during one of our dinner outings. She told me that there is a festival being organized in Lausanne the next weekend, and we could all go there. When I asked more about the festival, she said it has something to do with colours. She then showed me a picture of the event. She was surprised when I told her this is an Indian festival!
To my Indian friends reading this, you know the kind of Holi we play here. This was completely different. The colours used were natural colours, and there was no use of water at all. That makes sense since water is so expensive in Switzerland.
As soon as we entered the area, we were greeted by loud music and a vibrant crowd. We collected our packets of colours and joined the dancing crowd. I was hoping that they would play the song “Holi ke din dil khil jaate hain..” without which any Holi in India would be incomplete, but they didn’t. Not that I was complaining, as the music was still awesome!
After around 3 hours of dancing and playing with colours, we decided to leave as we were all tired and hungry. While leaving the area, we had to join a long queue. We wondered what the queue was for, but then we saw the security guards standing with huge machines that looked like big vacuum cleaners. The only difference being, they were blowing air instead of sucking air. The guards used these machines on everyone who was leaving, to blow away the colours from our clothes and hair. This was done to ensure that there would be no colours outside the event area, and Switzerland, a country known for its cleanliness and beauty, could remain clean.
I was struck by the strong gush of air when I approached the machine. It was so strong that I almost felt that I was flying. I closed my eyes and enjoyed this last part of the event.
This Holi in Europe was a very unique experience. So similar, and yet so different.
Was it fun? Oh yes!
Would I do this again if I get the chance? Definitely!