Clouds of colour: A day in the life of a Raleigh volunteer during Holi Festival in Nepal

21st March 2019

Holi, also known as Festival of Colours, takes place on the full moon day in Nepal. During this colorful festival, the Nepalese will throw dry powder and colored water to express their blessings and good wishes. Expedition volunteer Alice Palmer shares her experience of Holi whilst staying in the rural village of Tersey, where she was working on WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) projects.

Post and pictures by Alice Palmer

I’ve seen many pictures of colour runs back home in the UK, with a rainbow erupting in the air, but to experience Holi, the Fesitval of Colours in the Hindu and Buddhist religions, in the rural village of Tersey in the foothills of Nepal, was unlike anything I’ve seen.  One aim of my Raleigh Expedition was to immerse myself in the local culture, traditions and rhythms of life.  Celebrating Holi alongside the community here while working on our WASH project gave me the perfect opportunity to do just this, and it proved to be a very memorable day, with its fair share of colourful faces.

Preparations begin

After our usual group breakfast of oats and a cup of tea, we were fueled and ready for the first activity of the day, a game of capture the flag – Holi style.  We had a taste of what was to come was when one of our Volunteer Managers, Sarah, turned up to breakfast with a bright red face, freshly covered in paint “the children at my homestay”, she said with a smile.

Cody and Alice preparing for a day of festivities

Here comes the colour

What ensued was a thrilling exchange of colour. The local children joined in, shrieking in delight and helping us along the way.

Festivities begin with splashes of coloured paint and water

Lunch turns messy

After our usual lunch of our Didi’s (Nepali for Sister) delicious Dahl Bhat, we dried off in the sun before a second round of festivities began.  This time lots of the local children took part, ready for some fun in their ‘Happy Holi’ t-shirts.  Many of us Raleigh volunteers enjoyed a fair amount of time under a rainbow cloud, which remained on our faces once the excitement had simmered down.

Ailey, Erin and Molly enjoying Holi

Local party

After cleaning off our paint we attended a party at a community member’s house.  The children entertained the community with some drums and symbols and we played some games with them.  Then began the dancing, which involved the Raleigh volunteers being pulled up by the locals, who were admittedly much more coordinated than us.  We headed to bed, full from flavoursome traditional treats, and foreheads adorned with the Tika, made from rice and water.

Alice after her first Holi experience in Tersey

I will never forget my experience of Holi in Tersey.  I feel honoured to have forged a deeper tie with the community in a fun, festive atmosphere.  My Raleigh Expedition has opened many cultural doors for me, giving me a unique experience and the chance to form new friendships with people from a different background to me.

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