Every year, people across the Indian diaspora gather to celebrate Holi, the Hindu “Festival of Colours.” Earmarking the end of winter, Holi commemorates love and the triumph of good over evil.
Chiang Mai hosted Holi at the Pavilion Night Bazaar this past weekend. The smells of Indian food, from dosas to pani puri to dum biryani, coaxed curious passersby into the plaza. Other attendees came prepared, donning white clothes that would soon become Jackson Pollock canvases in a matter of hours.
The event kicked off with a Krishna Maha Mantra from the Chiang Mai Hare Krishna Group and a blessing for the rest of the night. Youths from the Northern Thai Tribal Culture and Education Foundation then stunned the audience with their dance and rap performances. After an impromptu appearance from a baby (whose dance moves received the loudest applause of all), BollyX with Shukki ushered the crowd into a high-energy, low-stakes Bollywood dance class.
Then finally, the moment everyone had been waiting for arrived. Family, friends, and farangs alike doused each other in dyed powder. Children sprinted around the plaza, tagging each other with colour and tripping over their own excitement. Adults became kids again, making full eye contact with their targets before launching rainbow kill-shots. For one glorious hour, the crowd left behind the worries of yesterday and delighted in the joy of the now.
As the night came to a close, strangers who had shared this intimate moment of electricity now left as strangers again. Still, for those who laughed and danced under the full amber moon, this would be a festival to remember.
Chai n Thai at Nimman
20 Nimmana Haeminda Rd Lane 9, Tambon Su Thep, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200
Accha Authentic Indian Cuisine
15 Soi 5 Suthep, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200
Amaravati Wellness Centre
100 Moo 7, Mae Rim-Samoeng (1096) Road, Rim Tai, Mae Rim District, Chiang Mai 50180
Related Resources: Chiang Mai’s vibrant Indian community
About the Author: Rowena Chang is a Fulbright Scholar interning at CityLife. She loves books, pop culture, and rambling about her latest Wikipedia rabbit hole to unsuspecting bystanders.