March, 23


The photo tour to the Holi festival in India.

Harry Fisch


The Holi, India’s famous festival of colors was the perfect excuse for this photo tour

We visited Barsana, where women hit men with sticks 

The Holi, India’s famous festival of colors was the perfect excuse for this photo tour. Although there are hundreds of festivals a year held in India, it is difficult to find one with such international fame.

Everybody, regardless of race, class or gender goes out into the streets armed with colored powders and water buckets, indulging in a fun battle that lasts until night. Participants in the festival drink bhang, dried and powdered marijuana leaves mixed with warm milk, pistachios and almonds. You can well imagine the resulting turmoil and happiness, something interesting to witness.

This planned photo tour to India included a local and early Holi,  Lathmar Holi, something completely different from what is seen in typical tours. There were very few tourists in the area, but we met a few photographers who had come to the place after having taken the trouble to discover it.

We visited Barsana, where women hit men with sticks in spectacular and very controlled ceremonies, something absolutely unusual in India, our presence in the temples among the reveling faithful being an exception.

The streets are full of men painted from head to toe. It isn’t as indiscriminate as a carnival: you mostly “play” at the Holi nut only if you want to. Of course there are always exceptions, and people usually participate in a more or less accepting manner.

Contrary to the myth believed in by most of us living outside India, that the most interesting things happen in the streets, local people believe that a private party where people play Holi reasonably in a controlled social environment, such as in social centers, private homes or hotels, is best.  

All of us who had taken cameras along had protected them against moisture and dust in one way or other. There were bags of all shapes and sizes, from the simplest to the most sophisticated. The truth is that no equipment belonging to any of the members of our party suffered any damage.

Taking pictures in the crowds often wasn’t easy, sometimes because of the participants’ pressure and at other times because of the presence of other photographers.