Holi Sadness

I found this post in “Drafts” as I’m going through the blog and saving files, making hard copies, and looking back over these years.  When you live along railway tracks, in stations, in fields, you may be in India but you may not be part of what the world thinks of as Indian culture or heritage.  You live as an outsider.  Our children were all outsiders.

I learned something today that made me really sad.  Saturday was Holi, the “Festival of Colors” and one of the most popular and non-religious holidays in India.  Our first Holi here we did not celebrate as the girls had just arrived the month before and I didn’t realize it was upon us.  In the chaos of those first days and months, it was just another day when few staff came and we managed to get through the day.  Few people travel; public transportation is halted; walking on the streets can result in being sprayed with colored powder or water.  It’s a time when people have permission to go wild.  Holi is also popular among the Indian population in the US.  In the adoption community, families with children from India often try to find Holi events, to help their children keep in touch with their culture and heritage.

We decided to give the girls a written assignment, as we are working on their thinking and writing abilities.  The assignment was to describe Holi before they came to Shishur Sevay.  Namely write about Holi as you remember it with your families.  I thought I’d be evoking happy memories of time with their families. As I finished describing this “wonderful” assignment, a mood of sadness came over them all.  Only two of eight girls had celebrated Holi.  One more had heard of it, but hadn’t ever celebrated it.  We changed to assignments depending on whether they’d known Holi before.  They could write about their first Holi here, or their first Saraswati here, or Kali Puja, as one girl wanted to.  I told them I was so sad for them, not having had Holi, but I was also so happy we had all these holidays here, that they could know them because of Shishur Sevay.

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