How I Got High On Holi – The Festival Of Vibrant Colors

How I got high on Holi-the festival of vibrant colors - By Voyager

Holi – The Festival Of Vibrant Colors

Holi is an Indian festival synonymous with colors and the spirit of Joie De vivre, a festival that transcends social barriers and everyone, rich and poor, young and old come together to celebrate the sheer joy of living.

This festival is one of the most important of the numerous festivals of India and is predominantly celebrated in the northern and western parts of the country.

Holi - How I got high on Holi-the festival of vibrant colors - By Voyager

If you thought that this post is all about Holi, then you are mistaken, it is more about how I got high on Holi, some years back. Of course the setting is the Holi festival and here are the gory details!

I woke up one fine morning in the western city of Ahmedabad to the loud and rhythmic beats of drums outside my house. I peeped out of my bedroom window through a gap in the curtains and saw a motley crowd outside, dancing and singing to the drum beats. I could barely recognize them as my friends as they were all covered in different colors, their faces smeared in Gulal, a colored powder which is used to smear each other during the Holi festival.

How I got high on Holi-the festival of vibrant colors - By Voyager

I quickly pulled the curtains closed tightly as the beats of the drum reached a crescendo and the crowd outside was clearly shouting for me to go out and join them. I looked around me, my family members just shrugged their shoulders, their gesture saying louder than words, “They are your friends, go out and face them!”

I looked around, and not seeing support from any quarter, I made my way outside.

Loud cheers and shrieks enveloped me and so did a deluge of colored water and soon I became one of them, totally unrecognizable, masked under layers of Gulal, clothes a myriad of colors.

How I got high on Holi-the festival of vibrant colors - By Voyager

I joined in the revelry as we danced and sang our way through the neighborhood, the size of the group swelling as we visited house after house. We were welcomed  and treated to sweets and savories in many of these houses.

Gujiya (sweet) - How I got high on Holi-the festival of vibrant colors - By Voyager

And here is where the plot thickens.

Our exuberant group was now at a house whose inhabitants I did not know, a young boy brought out a platter filled to the brim with delicious looking Laddus, an Indian sweet.

Laddus (sweet) - How I got high on Holi-the festival of vibrant colors - By Voyager


He passed around the sweets, I had one, it tasted heavenly and I had one more. Soon the platter was empty but for one lone Laddu. My hand of its own volition quickly moved forward and the the last of the laddus disappeared into the caverns of my mouth. I should have been forewarned by some of the glances of the people around me, but I failed to notice them, given the kind of mood we were all in.

And so onward we went from house to house, dancing, singing, clutching balloons filled with colored water and throwing them at each other.

Holi with Gubbaras (Balloons) - How I got high on holi - the festival of vibrant colors - Voyager blog

I felt a strange liberation, a joy, an ecstasy I could not fathom. By nature, I am not the type who would dance or sing , throwing all inhibitions to the wind, on the streets of Ahmedabad, but that is exactly what I was doing with gay abandon.

For some unfathomable reason the spirit of Stevie Wonder seemed to have taken over me as I kept singing, “I just called to say I love you” at each and every house we went to and to each and every person we met on the way!

It was late in the afternoon and slowly our group, now subdued and tired, started dispersing. I too made my way home.

I rang the front door bell and my mom opened the door, “Is the revelry over?”, she asked.

I giggled and sang, “I just called to say I love you”

She looked quizzically at me, but I did not notice, I went right in, still singing, “I just called to say I love you”.

It must have been around midnight, we had finished our dinner and had retired to bed. I was in my room, still under the unyielding grasp of the spirit of Stevie Wonder. I seemed to have lost all sense of time. Suddenly I was wide awake and I got out of my bed, or rather I attempted to, because as I kept both my feet on the floor to get out of the bed, I felt no ground beneath me, I looked down and the floor was way, way down, I stretched my legs trying to reach it, but to no avail, it was as if by some strange magic, my bed was suspended on the ceiling and I could not reach the floor. Somehow I managed to stretch my legs gingerly and I climbed down from the ceiling onto the floor.

It was then that I realized what had woken me up at midnight, a strange burning sensation enveloped my head, waves and waves of heat were traversing through my brain. I walked or rather floated to the kitchen, opened the refrigerator, took out a bottle of cold water and simply poured it over my head!

A strange and eerie silence exploded in my ears, suddenly, I felt as if the world had gone silent, I walked towards the front door and opened it, a blast of cold air hit me. In the distance I could see some trucks moving on the road, but strangely they were moving silently, I looked up at the trees, they were fluttering in the breeze, but again silently!

I closed the door and walked back in feeling strangely uncomfortable. I thought I would wake the others in the house and tell them that something was wrong with me. I walked to my parents room, knocked and opened the door.

I stared incredulously at an empty bed, I checked the other rooms with the same result.

Where had everyone gone!

I sank back into the sanctuary of my bed. Again, I felt weightless and was floating in the air. I saw my body lying in bed, while I was floating above it. One moment I was flying up, up and high and the next moment I was hurtling down a bottomless blackhole. It was a strange sensation, one part of my mind was thinking,” I am dying”, the other part of my mind was calmly saying to itself, “this is how death is, I will remember this experience, so that I can narrate it to others”!

After what seemed like an eternity, my disembodied mind, saw my body once again float down to the floor and make its way back to my parents’ room, clutching the wall, all the time, like Neil Armstrong moon-walking.

Lo & behold! I saw them now, they had been there all the time, it was my mind which was playing tricks on me.

I called out loudly to them, afraid that they were far away and my voice would not carry to them.

They got up, alarmed and concerned. They realized something was amiss by looking at me.

Soon the entire household was up, I lay on a bed, clasping my dad’s hand, afraid that if I left it, I would float away, with the other hand I gripped the bed with a vice like grip.

I really thought, I was dying.

Someone had called the family doctor, who soon arrived. He examined me, with a look of professional concern.

Apparently he was not able to conclude what was wrong with me and had a worried look on his face.

“From when is he like this”,? he asked.

“I guess, since he came back after the Holi revelries, he has been acting strangely”, replied my mother.

For some reason, these words erased the worry lines from the Doctor’s forehead, he smiled and said:

“Did he eat or drink anything from outside”?

“He ate three Bhang Laddus”, this statement came from one of my friends who stayed nearby and who was instrumental in getting the Doctor to our house.

These words seemed to have a magical effect on the Doctor, the concern and worry of a few moments back were gone, instead, he laughed and leaned back in his chair.

Bhang! he repeated the word and laughed. But soon he regained his professional composure and told my Mom, give him some lime juice or tamarind juice. This will flush out the Bhang. But mind you, he will have a hangover which may last a couple of days also.

He then addressed everyone and said: “Please be careful if and when you are partaking Bhang, do not partake of it from strangers, if it is too strong, there are chances it can have an adverse affect!. Thankfully, in this case it is not that strong”.

He picked up his bag, looked at me, smiled and humming under his breath, “I just called to say I love you”, he left the house.

I was back to normal in a day, but I can never forget that Holi day when a teetotaler like me was totally stoned and thought he had died!

Click here to read how Janet of Journalist On The Run enjoyed Holi, the festival of colors with kids from HOPE foundation in Kolkata.

Have you played Holi, the festival of colors or have been part of this festival? Uou should check out Holi in Mathura and Vrindavan. Did you like this article? If yes, then you might want to check out our posts on other vibrant festivals of India:

Festivals of India Series – Navratri and Dussehra
Flying high with the Kite Festival

Would love to know your thoughts. 

How I got high on Holi, the festival of vibrant colors





56 thoughts on “How I Got High On Holi – The Festival Of Vibrant Colors

  1. DrifterHannah Reply

    Yay, so beautiful! I will go to a Holi celebration at the Indian embassy in Ethiopia on Saturday. Not quite the same as the original, but it will be so much fun!!

  2. Cynthia Reply

    Hahahaha!! What a trip! I love the way you just described it, this was very entertaining I have to say 😀 What a story! I hope your hangover wasn’t too bad?

    • Voyager Post authorReply

      Thank you Cynthia. Glad you liked it. Well, whenever I remember that day I have a good laugh over it! 🙂

  3. Jey Jetter Reply

    What a funny post and special experience it must have been! Love the pictures, impressive that you were able to take them! 😀

  4. mark Reply

    Sounds like an awesome event and high times were had lol. love all the colors its like a tie-dye overload.

  5. Hester Reply

    That’s a great story! And very good for warning other travellers about eating or drinking things from strangers that could possibly have been spiked 🙂 We would love to go the Holi festival so will watch out for these sweet treats in future! But sounds like a lot of fun.,,

    • Voyager Post authorReply

      Thanks Hester. 🙂 Yes, always good not to accept eatables from strangers. But this festival is fun for sure.

  6. Rob Taylor Reply

    Oh gosh. Every Holi story is so different. I’ve always looked forward to experiencing it and seeing such a fun festival up close, but now I’m not so sure. 🙂

  7. RunawayBrit Reply

    Your writing about Holi is so lively and fun, I love it! I have experienced two Holi festivals in India – last year in Mumbai was amazing. I played with friends and colleagues and it was so much fun. This year I went to Jaipur and was groped within 5 minutes, so I went back to the hotel and stayed on the rooftop terrace. From there I could see all the groups of families playing on their rooftop – much more enjoyable!

    I love Indian festivals, and I love the colour of Holi – but I think I’ll stay off the street (and away from bhang) in future.

    • Voyager Post authorReply

      Oh that’s nice to know. I do understand that sometimes if the crowd is not decent enough, you can have a bad experience and it is better to avoid such situations.

  8. Corinne Reply

    This is a festival that really makes me want to go and play and see the colors for myself, but honestly I would be too worried about my camera!

    • Voyager Post authorReply

      lol, I know! There is every chance of cameras and other digital objects getting wet or getting colored. It is quite a thing!

  9. nonsoloamore Reply

    I truly loved that part you singing Stevie Wonder. 😉 This festival seems absolutely lovely. I’ve been to many festivals – most of them in Germany – and there is not even similarities. I’d love to visit Holi.

    • Voyager Post authorReply

      Haha.. I have no clue why I kept singing those lines. 🙂 Well, holi – the festival of colors is lot of fun and am sure you will like it.

  10. Taylor Reply

    What a story! Haha as long as you enjoyed it (which it sounds like you did), then I guess it’s not a bad thing!

  11. Christina Reply

    Looks like my children would completely enjoy this festival of vibrant colors! And of course, all the food.

  12. Jerny Reply

    There’s one in Manila too, but wasn’t able to go there because I need to go to another event. This looks fun!

    • Voyager Post authorReply

      Yes, I read that many Asian countries have this festival of colors, water etc.

  13. Marge Reply

    I thoroughly enjoyed the story. I have also attended the holi festival this year here in my country, the Philippines. Some Indians who are already living here have organized it and everyone was welcome to join them, so my friends and I did. And boy, we sure had a blast! I felt like a kid again, laughing, dancing in complete abandon, and throwing colored powders up in the air, and smearing ’em to the faces of my friends. It was totally enjoyable. But I didn’t eat Bhang Laddus though, I don’t think anyone served that food there. As I was reading your story, I had a feeling that you were stoned and I was right. So that’s how it feels like? To the point of having an out-of-body experience? Dang I’d be scared if I experience that!

  14. Ashley Reply

    HOW FUN! I just learned of this festival while watching a documentary of a photographer and here I am stumbling on this funny post. I hope to go sometime soon so this is a good warning to not overindulge. Thank you for sharing!

  15. neha Reply

    Feeling completely nostalgic. Holi was my favorite festival when I was small. Everyone seemed to be on a different energy level. Alas, most of the festivals are loosing meaning in the major feels so dull in Bangalore on the day of Holi

  16. Gina Reply

    Did you know there are many Indian immigrants in Korea and they host the Holi Hai every year in Busan? It’s not as vibrant as the ones in India, but it’s amazing nonetheless. There’s something beautiful about the festival that makes everyone give up their inhibitions and become their beautiful colorful selves.

  17. Jen Joslin Reply

    Haha oh no!!! Glad the bhang you had wasn’t too strong since you had 3 of the laddus! Also glad that you made it home before they hit you too hard!! What a story, and one you probably won’t ever forget.

  18. Mimi & Mitch Reply

    Really want to attend this festival. Heard some negative stories of Women during being a bit harassed by men at this festival, but it is getting controlled more and more. Can’t wait to organize a trip over for it!

  19. Erica Reply

    Holi seems to be a very interesting, joyful festival. This is religious right? In Manila our “color festival” is termed Color Mnaila and it involves running and obstacle course.. It is not in the calendar of festivals but the colors and the balloons used in your Holi are the same. I wish to experience Holi!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *