holding dad

Stanford throws the biggest Holi festival celebration in the Bay Area, and we were lucky enough to join in the fun this weekend. In India, Holi marks the beginning of spring and it’s celebrated by covering friends and strangers with bursts of powdered colors. It’s also a day when enemies turn friends, which I can only imagine is symbolized by everyone donning the same rainbow of vibrant colors — equalized by the power of joy and celebration.

Holi Colors

It was our first Holi experience, and while I wanted to introduce my oldest daughter to the excitement of this holiday, I was also uncertain about she might react to being covered head-to-toe in pigment, the loud music, and the bursting crowds.

decorating dad

To prepare for the event, we looked at some amazing photos ahead of time, got dressed in our painting clothes, covered our skin in sun block to create a barrier for the color, and poured a little oil in our hair to protect it from the drying colors. N surprised me by embracing the colors right from the start.

shoulders in crowd

And then she and her dad headed off into the crowd. I took the opportunity to snap some photos while our little one slept through the whole thing.


A festival-goer covered in color. Look at that smile! Everyone there wore the same expression. It was SO inspiring.

holi color

Another big smile. And I love how the color looks in hair.

shoulders clapping

N sang and clapped along with the Bangra music.


A sea of happy color. While time will determine the lasting effects of our outing, my daughter came home talking about “throwing color” and expressing her love for mango lassis. And I hope that the experience infused her with a perspective on the potential of crowd-generated festivals — something we could never generate behind the doors of our home.

More information on the significance and history of Holi.

Have you celebrated Holi? What joyful festivals have you been a part of?

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  1. That is sooo cool—I would love it!! Sounds like such a creative and freeing experience! I remember seeing something about this festival on the movie Outsourced (good movie 2006) and from a blog (can’t remember the name right now). I’m so glad your daughter could enjoy this festival and that your little baby slept so you could enjoy!! I would be a little afraid of my daughter getting paint all over because she might freak out, but if she saw everyone else she probably would be fine! Thanks for sharing your experience with pictures and words!

    • Thanks for sharing the links; I’ll have to look for that film. Like you, I wasn’t sure how my daughter would react, but she did seem to get swept up in the collective fun. They even had an area set up just for kids. Sadly, I didn’t get any photos because I stuck to a paint-free corner to keep the baby away from the dust.

  2. Awww such colorful photos!! You all had loads of fun:)) We are from India, now residing in FL and i miss celebrating it. But we did have our share of fun in a small scale at home..
    Pics and the art we did for holi here

    • Hi Roopa, Your daughter loves the colors, doesn’t she!! Thank you for sharing your blog and the photos of your Holi celebration. When we were at the festival I thought a lot about how one could celebrate Holi away from the crowds, and you helped me see some great possibilities through your wonderful photos.

  3. Fabulous!! What a great thing to experience. Friends of ours were lucky enough to take part in a festival in India when they visited. They have some amazing photos. We did a (very small scale!) version of this once when we did a topic on India with our kids at school. Too much fun!

    • Hi Anna, How cool that you led a Holi unit with your kids at school. After this experience, I can only imagine the Holi scene in India! Your friends must be forever changed by it.

  4. Wow, this looks like fun! I wish DC had something like this!

    • There might be something like this in DC?! But admittedly, this was a unique event due to the large Indian population in our community. Very fun indeed!

  5. Wonderful photos, and it looks like a joyous celebration.


  6. It seems like where we live in India, Holi is mostly a game for children to play before being bathed and put to bed. We hardly saw any adults wearing colors, and nothing at all like the celebrations I’ve seen held in the US.

    • This is so interesting! I saw photos of multiple people out in the streets in some parts of India and imagined that we were only experiencing a fraction of what folks in India do for Holi, but perhaps the scale of the holiday varies by region. Thanks for the comment!

  7. how cool! I don’t know of anything like this around us, but I wish I did! I might just have to throw my own celebration next spring!!

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