I put on my already color stained hole ridden shirt which I had worn for the Holi celebration in Hyderabad. I had saved this item that might ordinarily gone straight to the trash can for this particular day. I placed my camera inside my dry bag backpack securing the watertight seal. I put on my worn Tevas, and ventured out in to the streets of Nasik for my third Holi celebration of the year. I had known that the people of Maharastra celebrate with the throwing of colored water dyes and powder the fifth day after Holi on a holiday known as Rang Panchami, however I had not known the Nasik was the epicenter and among the most famous (most famous if you ask the citizens of Nasik) place to celebrate Rang Panchami. So it was some what fortuitous that I ended up in Nasik as one of the few foreigners (1 of 4) in town to witness the spectacular spectacle of colors. The show put on by Nasik dwarfed any celebration of Holi I had yet witnessed. Throughout the city large showered dance floors were erected in the streets where colored water rained down on exuberantly dancing (all male) Indians, as bursts of colored powder rained down on the crowd. Ordinarily in The West the sight of hundreds of men dancing in wet clothes might mean you have mistakenly wandered into a rave in the Castro district of San Francisco, but in India where public display of cross gender affection is frowned upon the outlet becomes same sex affection. Sights such as men holding hands or two guys on a motorcycle one with his arms draped around the waist of another are quite common sights in India and do not necessarily reflect on the sexual orientation of the participants. Likewise men dancing with men is quite common, and on a day like Rang Panchami, women wisely stay behind locked doors avoiding the masses of male youths on the streets (many of whom are intoxicated).
In addition to the shower dance floors there was a pool near the river in Nasik that was filled with dyed water and decorated with flower pedals. Hundreds of men gathered around the pool as a puja was performed by an officiating Brahmin. On completion of the ceremony everyone charged into the small pool. It was amazing no one drowned in the frenzy. Even more amazing were the men jumping from nearly 15 feet (~3 m) into this small pool that was about only about 15 ft by 15 ft (3 m x 3 m) itself that was nearly full of bathers. I watched expecting someone to get maimed or drowned at any moment yet some out everyone seemed to emerge from the red waters smiling and filled with religious ecstasy.
In late afternoon everyone gathered at the ghats on the banks of the holy Godavari River to attempt to scrub off the days celebration. Ordinarily I refuse to bath in Indian rivers but after being doused with water and dye all day that couldn’t possibly be any cleaner than the river I figured it was worth a shot for the first stage in my clean up attempt. I joined locals, who were greatly amused by the dye covered foreigner, in the river attempting to scrub the dye out of my skin and hair. Hopefully the holy river did a better job of washing away my sins than it did removing the color from my hair. Despite my scrubbing and 3 subsequent 45 minute long scrubs using shampoo and laundry soap, my hair would remain pink for nearly a month, a small price to pay for the experience of Rang Panchami in Nasik.