I ventured closer to capture the kids and adults clustered around a bucket of blue. I planned to raise my camera over the odd monument of limbs and capture everyone as they look down, enraptured by the coloured powder.
An excitement sped through the air and with my attention zeroed in on obtaining my photo I missed the hidden signal to begin.
The term “all hell broke loose” is the most appropriate phrase for an individual suddenly finding herself in the midst of a colourful dust storm with a camera worth around a $1,000.
I whipped around and dashed out of there like my tail was on fire, cuddling my camera as a football player protects the ball. I’m sure I would have mowed down anyone who stood in my way if they’d chanced that unlucky confrontation.
Images of cameras positively buried in dust after emerging from Holi festivities arose in my frantic mind.
Safely in the clear I wasn’t about to let my surprise get in the way of a good photo. I spun around and pointed my lens at the colourful fog, zooming in on laughing, coughing participants joyfully covering each other in powder.
Leave it to Canadians to adapt foreign customs into their own lives.
These photos do not in fact display a part of the Hindu festival Holi. But it’s obvious to see it was inspired by it.
Called the Burst of Colour Run in the small Canadian community of Rosemary the event is known as the Colour Run, Graffiti Run and other vibrant names in the United States of America, Australia and across the world.
The event has spread to Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Germany, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.
In this event runners are doused with a colourful dust every kilometre so when they finish they are covered in the stuff. The addition to running makes the event really fun.
According to the official Colour Run website the event is designed to create positive and fun energy. It was created to get people active and bring happiness to the community. So, in short, the event promotes colour, unity, fun, charity and exercise.
Over half of the people who try it are running five kilometres for the first time. The event is not a race—people are not give numbers and their speed is not timed—and anyone can participate. From age 2 to 80 if you think you can handle it.
And people love it.
The official site said the Colour Run started in January 2012 and grew from 50 events with 600,000 participants to 100 events with over a million participants in 2013.
Rosemary went from 200 runners in 2012 to 450 runners in 2013 and they had to cut it off there.
I went into this blog post expecting to find information on the runs in the USA because I heard the Canadian events were inspired by those, but I was shocked to find these runs across the globe.
It’s a wonderful idea and it gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling to see so many countries sharing colours instead of bad news. I’m certainly proud to see that we as a global community are sharing and adapting these great cultural customs.
It makes me wonder though, how many people actually know that the custom originated from India and Nepal and started as a Hindu festival?
How many know that the colours are part of a festival to celebrate spring, good harvests and fertile land?
How many runners realize that in India the festival is a time for social norms to back down and the rich, poor, men, women and children go out just to have fun?
Do the Colour Run participants know that the colours are thrown during a festival of pranks and jokes?
Do they know that the Hindu festival was also designed to get people up and moving during a period of laziness?
Or perhaps they don’t yet know that the colours they are being plastered with have different meanings.
- Blue-calm and sedateness
- Yellow-pious feelings
Even the act of colouring another has special meaning. From displaying love to sharing blessings and luck—to be covered in coloured powder is a good thing.
I hope people learn this and begin to realize just how interconnected the world is becoming. As much as we fear losing our sense of uniqueness we ought to appreciate seeing once-isolated-customs knitting the world together.
And the event will change. It will adapt to each country it finds a home in. But the bottom line is that everyone is just out to have fun.
And that’s all that should matter.