This week saw the celebration of  Holi – the Festival of Colours in Northern India. Varanasi has a reputation of being a raucous place for Holi celebrations and I couldn’t resist staying on in the holy city just to see for myself.

The eve of Holi sees bonfires set alight to signify the burning of demoness Holinka. Early the next morning the gallis and ghats are alive with locals (and fearless travelers) smearing and spraying each other with colourful festival paints. My last Holi was celebrated in Udaipur (Rajasthan) where dry coloured paints are used- in Varanasi the business is serious with pistols, water bottles and bags filled with wet dyes being shot, hurled and sprayed at anyone who passes.

Gone are the days of using natural mineral based colours and the paints used today are beautiful in colour but sadly chemical in nature, with the darker colours have purported lead content. Body harm aside, one has to wonder about the consequence of these paints running into the water system and ultimately the Ganga!

Festival paintball’ was almost too much this girl considering how even as a little girl my adrenalin would soar to dangerous levels playing tag! After 3 hours of fun on the rooftops I retreated to my guesthouse looking like a cross between a Rainbow Star Child and Lord Shiva himself. Three showers later I am still pink around the face and blue down my back, but oh what fun was had!