We had heard about Holi well before leaving Africa for the South Asian Subcontinent. "It's that crazy holiday in India where everyone throws colored powder and water at each other and people just go nuts", fellow travelers told us. So we immediately looked it up and started doing our research on where to be for this racous celebration. While the parties are supposedly at their most colorful (pun intended) in various cities in India, our timing was going to put us in Nepal. Luckily, since it's a Hindu holiday, the party goes down in India's mountainous neighbor as well. As we would soon find out, this celebration is probably the least religious Hindu holiday, and is more about everyone coming together and having a fun time in celebration of the start of Spring.
We took the seven-hour bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara on the actual holiday, so we got a taste of the mess we were in for as we winded our way through mountain villages. We saw tons of children pelting each other with colored powder and water-- some even using giant Super Soakers-- and the roads had tons of "Holi" stains on them as well. Even our bus wasn't safe from the color attacks: its windows got pelted a few times on our journey!
As soon as we got to Pokhara, we changed into clothes we didn't care about and set off for downtown. We found a fun outdoor concert going on, and a nice mix of backpackers and locals dancing to punk-influenced covers of American songs being pretty successfully pulled off by long-haired local bands. Everyone was absolutely covered in bright, beautiful colors. The powdered dye is sold on the streets in 10- or 20-cent bags, and it's completely appropriate and expected to go up to strangers and say "Happy Holi!" while smearing their faces, necks, and backs with the powder. Some people mix the powder with water and turn the whole affair into more of a water fight.
We had a blast dancing, Holi-ing strangers, taking photos, and observing what have to be the most patient cops on Earth, who were trying to keep the whole scene under control. While it may not have been the most authentic Holi experience, it was good-natured and messy fun!