Holi Spring…Holi Colors

Before I went to bed last night when I let Cody inside for the last time I noticed it was snowing hard outside!  I was sad.  I’d been in Portland yesterday and saw daffodils blooming, cherry blossoms out and robins on every fence post.  Spring doesn’t come to Timber Valley for at least another month.  I can’t wait.  Don’t get me wrong.  It’s a beautiful spring up here when it arrives with new growth on the pines and Douglas Firs, mountain bluebirds, baby cows and goats and deer galore.  But it’s the long wait that gives all of us in the area cabin fever. 

So after a restless sleep, I woke up to the tail end of a story on NPR that made me smile.  It was a story by Sandip Roy that talked about the Indian Festival of  Colors, The Celebration of Holi.  Holi is a Hindu spring festival that is celebrated the day after the first full moon in March.  It’s celebrated wherever Hindus get together, in India, Nepal and even Stanford University in the United States.  Celebrations begin the night before with a huge bonfire lit in memory of a famous historical escape from fire by a famous and unshakable devotee of Vishnu. On the day of Holi,  groups of young people run the streets wearing their oldest clothes and soak each other with colored water using water balloons, water pistols and buckets.  The colors are eye-popping, magenta, yellow and green,  and deep red.  Many wildly shower others with colored powder and even the stray dogs are pink.  The streets are filled with laughter, color and fun and after the event even the most environmental colors take some time and effort to scrub off.  Clothes must be washed, showers taken and colors rinsed off the streets.  It sounds like a festival that I’d like to start celebrating every year.  The mess is worth the fun.  Also the festivals in India and Nepal are followed by feasting with curry, saffron and mango.  A festival of colors, everything an artist could ever want.

This weekend I’ll be taking that idea of a festival of colors and bringing it to my crayon print workshop at The Dalles Art Center.  This is one of my messiest and most colorful lessons that I teach and also one of the most fun.  We start with a big copper plate, heat it with an iron (the heat will spread over the entire plate), mark a spot, draw an excellent work of art with metallic crayons or oil pastel, then slap a piece of beautiful print paper down on top of the drawing, press down with a flat spoon, pull up the paper and like magic you have a one -of- a- kind print!  We will all become covered in bright color just like our own mini celebration of Holi, The Dalles way.  We will be wearing masks for safety because that crayon smell can last for days inside the nose.  But it’s going to be fun.  I’ll take pictures and share them on the next post. 

“Gulal-red, green, yellow and countless.

A day’s canvas-a riot of colors.

Lively crowd running hither and thither,

Rainbow of colors, dashing from every nook and corner.

Disregarding their woe and despair fervent folks,

rejoicing at the marvel of colors.

A day filled with luster and gaiety,

A day to smear our dreams-

With a splash of vibrant frenzy colors.

Holi Hai! A spring of unbounded fun and frolic!!”

                                                               –From a Holi poem

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