Diving Into the Colors of Holi

I cannot wait for spring. When it comes, I can dive into those bright colors again.

Red, yellow, green—fistfuls of intense colors fly in all directions before my eyes and colored powder fills the air all around as if we are engulfed in a smoke screen. The brown skin of the people transforms into bright colors in a flash. Men, women, grown-ups, and children, all wholeheartedly enjoy the explosion of color. I feel overwhelmed, my heart races, and as I hold my camera at the ready, I feel a surge of power filling my entire body.

Holi, a Hindu spring festival held on the day of the full moon in the 12th month in the Indian Calendar (February to March in the solar calendar), is a festival of colors. Celebrants splash each other’s faces and bodies with multi-colored powder and water. The colors represent life itself and the festival is filled with the joy of living.

I have been fascinated by the colors of the sacred festival of Holi for nine years now. I fell in love with the festival for the first time when I saw it on television as a high school student. In those days, I had no confidence in the way I was living my life and was having a hard time liking myself. I could not find anything to pour my heart into, and at times I could not bear the passing of aimless days. I was getting tired of myself pretending to be a ‘good boy’, worrying about what the adults around me thought of me and hiding my true self. For someone who had been living a colorless life, the bright colors of Holi had a potent effect.

In the course of time I found photography. I looked into the small finder and searched for a subject that I found appealing. The second I pressed the shutter, the pleasure and confidence from having been able to slice off a piece of the world made me happy. While shooting, I could forget the me that I did not like. I have been shooting ever since to live authentically and to like myself. Photography is already a part of me.

I want to take the photographs of Holi that only I can take–this is the wish I had in mind for the three times I dove into those colors. Although I am yet to find my own Holi, I don’t feel like turning tail and running. Far from it, with each dive, I am more and more mesmerized by this festival full of vivid colors and life energy, and find myself inseparable from it. I want to immerse myself deeper and deeper in Holi colors. Then, someday, I will be able to shoot my own Holi.

I cannot wait for spring.

Takehiko Yagi