It has always been a part of my bucket list to explore new places and find more adventures. But when you're on a tight budget and you are restrained by time and hectic schedule, I think going to a locally produced international festival is the next best thing. You get to experience a glimpse of the culture and of course, the food.
Last March 16, my friend invited me to the second Holi Festival in Manila that was held on the Bay Area of SM Mall of Asia. When I first saw the invite, I immediately got excited. I will be getting to attend a tradition that I thought I could only experience vicariously through the movies or from a jet-setter socialite's post from the internet. Plus, it will be a perfect opportunity to try out my new toy - GoPro Hero 3+ black Edition. Holi Festival, also known as the Festival of Colors or Festival of love, originated in India wherein they welcome springtime through the throwing of colorful Gulal Powder in the air, the attendees, the tourists, or basically to everyone. The colorful powder also symbolizes freedom, friendship, unity and the colors of everyday life.
As expected in any festival, everyone was energetic and jubilant. Wherever you look, people are stained with the colorful Gulal Powder of various colors. As soon as you enter the venue, a welcoming party will immediately put the powder on your face, your shirt and anywhere they are allowed to lay their colorful hands on.
What I enjoyed most were the countdowns. As soon as it reached zero, everyone threw their powders in the air, making a miniature cloud of rainbow and cotton candy. And to our surprise, the guy in front of us wiped our faces with more powder. And it soon dawned on me that a total stranger just touched my face. Well, I'm glad he did. Friendship and unity - that's what Holi Festival is about isn't it? We capped the night with some authentic Indian Food - Samosas and Pita Bread, that we ate by the fountain while still grooving to the belly-dancing and Bollywood tunes.
MF Tips: Going to Festivals
(Here are some tips on how you can maximize your foreign festival experience.)
- Don't be such a brat. There's a big chance that you'll encounter a lot of sweaty skin-on-skin action or people who might smell differently, and when you do, act as natural as you can, hide any kind of facial reaction and simply, just gracefully, walk away.
- Do your research. There's a chance that you might come across some gestures, rituals or traditions that are innate to the celebrating country. So to spare yourself of the humiliation and possible physical injuries caused by blurting out an insensitive or naive remark, come prepared. Know what to expect and respect. Plus you'll get to enjoy the festivities more if you know or at least have an idea what you are celebrating about.
- Pack light. Even if there will be colored powder involved, it's still best to keep stuff to a minimum. This way, you can keep an eye on your valuables and still get to belly-dance the night away without worrying about your turtle-hump backpack getting in the way of your dancing or having sore shoulders afterwards.
- Take your tummy on a journey. Try out the food that they usually sell at a lower price in festivals like this. Who knows when you'll get to experience their authentic cuisine without actually going to their country? Just be sure you know where the comfort room is before you plunge your taste buds into foreign delicacies.
- Don't be a snob. Basically, festivals bring out the friendliness in almost everyone. Total strangers come up to you for free hugs or just to fist bump. Meeting new people won't be difficult and maybe you can win new friends in the process.
Photos from the event: