Holi Week in South Goa


This week marks the beginning of the celebrations leading to the festival of Holi, on Thursday.  Like many traditional festivals, the dates of Holi are dictated by the full moon.  It is the festival of spring, of colours, a time when symbolically good overcomes evil, and consequentially a time of great celebration.  Some places in India celebrate Holi more exuberantly than others, especially near sites with resonant links to Krishna and Shiva.

In Patnem, it is all reasonably low key, but still visible.  The drumming starts first, and in the days leading up to Holi becomes more and more present.  Today, we had a procession of young men and children across the beach, drumming and with the man in the rear letting off firecrackers at regular intervals.   They will parade around all the hamlets in the locale.  There is also a celebration going on at the Shiva Temple behind Salida, which is only used for a few festivals a year.

We have also had today the first of many visits from ladies and not-ladies selling dabs of coloured paint.  Thursday will be the day when people daub themselves in powdered colours, throw it around and generally have a “wild and crazy time”!  Again, much more subdued here than in other places, but definitely a night you wouldn’t want to wear your best white shirt out.

By Wednesday night, matters will be at a high level.  Bonfires at crossroads.  Fireworks.  Drumming at the temples throughout the evenings and nights.  Dancing and chanting in the temples.    On Thursday, apart from the paint throwing exuberance, it will be a time for visiting family and friends.  Houses thrown open in welcome to all.  Food made available to all.  Feasting and celebration for the spring that is to come and the winter that has passed.   We leave Patnem on Thursday so we’ll miss that part mostly but I have been here for Holi many times.  One year when staying with Hindu hosts, they took us to their family homes and we too enjoyed the food and bounty as welcomed friends.  It felt very special.  These days, our guest house hosts are Christians and don’t, of course, celebrate the festival, so we miss that.

A very hot day and the sea is now warmed to nearly bath water temperature.  No frisson on entry at all.

We are beginning to prepare for departure.  Last laundry load going to Amelia tomorrow.  Last visit to Palolem tonight.  Last visit to Cozy Nook tomorrow….. sorry to leave but ready to move on to the next phase of our winter trip.

Tonight we went to Palolem to check on the progress of something we were having made at the jewellers.  Then we did a bit more shopping and had dinner at the Rasa Bistro.  We ate here last week for the first time and quite liked it.  Rather busier tonight, perhaps predictably being Sunday.  I had spicy prawn pad thai.  Bob had spicy black beef with chips and salad.  The food was really good.  We washed it down with their excellent cocktails.  I had 2 white ladies.  Bob had a gimlet and a beer.  The prices of the cocktails are really good at £2.50 each for branded liquor i.e. Beefeater gin. They were playing Irish music throughout as it is St Patrick’s Day.  The Indians present looked bemused which was amusing.  We sang along as best we could.

Tuk’d back to Patnem and had a nightcap at Eve’s.  A good day.